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Transparency drives competition and transparent leaders stay in front of the pack.

There are all kinds of ways enterprise buyers collaborate with suppliers in the sourcing and procurement process.

One of these popular touch points is the familiar electronic performance survey sent by buyers to their suppliers on an annual, quarterly, or even monthly schedule.  The main contacts at each supplier fill out these surveys frequently across multiple buyers. 

The level of automation and man hours needed to adequately fulfill the deluge of survey requests is, perhaps, up for debate.

However, one constant prevails: Suppliers who can handle the incoming volume and participate consistently in performance surveys will have the sustained advantage of winning business over suppliers who do not participate consistently.

Enter into the mind of the supplier manager and commodity manager.

While they may have 25-50 peers in their company covering different geographies, spend categories, and/or tiers of suppliers, they all share one universal need: data. 

They require adequate metrics about their suppliers to make impactful decisions for the sourcing and procurement process.  Performance surveys are one of many tools that are paramount to managing sourcing strategy and minimizing risk for the buyers.

In the world we live in today; charm, hand shakes, and initial trust only get you so far as a supplier when reaching out for the bigger contracts.

You also need to look good on paper.

Here's why: Sourcing and procurement departments can experience turnover, just like many other departments in companies. 

New people are filled into the buyer's sourcing & procurement process and they don't yet know you as well.  Secondly, most suppliers are managed at the technology-level: Supplier and commodity managers log into a 'cockpit' dashboard and track their suppliers this way.  It's automated, easier, integrated with other procurement systems, and most importantly - auditable and reportable.  History is tracked, forming the trends buyers need to see about their individual suppliers. 

If there are too few stats or performance scores about you, how will you cement yourself in the minds of these supplier management technology power users? 

Collaboration is currency. 

Participate regularly and early in performance surveys when they come your way.  It keeps you transparent, your buyers happy, and builds an advantage over other suppliers who pass the buck on participating. 

Unless suppliers have something to hide, surveys are a good tool for showcasing good performance and meeting SLAs.


miafw-mica-child-labor-360x254.jpgSlavery is often associated with the mass colonization of new lands by Europe that occurred during the 16th through 19th centuries. The transatlantic slave trade trafficked an estimated 17 million people from Africa while overall slave trade during this period seized up to 30 million people.


The shame of slavery still plagues us today, trapping up to 30 million people.


Recent headlines range from large-scale slavery networks within the Thai fishing industry to small operations at egg farms in Ohio.  The media is paying attention and as are some governments. The U.K. Modern Slavery Act goes into effect in October, requiring greater transparency from companies on their anti-slavery practices. The U.S. State Department released its 2015 Trafficking in Persons report, which spotlights responsibilities of private companies to take action with monitoring their supply chains.


Nearly every country is touched by this epidemic. For companies seeking to ensure slave labor is not used in their supply chains, the task can feel daunting.  Modern supply chains rely on networks of suppliers, dimming visibility into the labor used to gather raw materials and produce parts for components that end up in finished goods.


Earlier this year, Ariba and the non-profit Made in a Free World announced a partnership to empower companies with data and tools to keep slave labor out of their supply chains. Made in a Free World founder Justin Dillon shares his insights on the challenges of eradicating slavery and the opportunities for companies to steer away from slave labor.


Q. Has slavery grown, or has it remained at a constant pace over the past century?


It seems to have grown. Partly, this is because society has gained a heighten awareness to the issue. What we called “extremely bad working conditions” 20 years ago is recognized as slavery today. Work we previously viewed as “dirty jobs” are now seen as health and safety violations. The way people do business and use labor has evolved and people are starting to recognize it for what it is.


Q. What factors are prompting companies to tackle the problem of slave labor?


Companies are starting to realize that the risks are greater than the rewards. Profits from slave labor stay at the local level, but most of the risks rise up and impact brands. For companies, supply chain responsibility goes beyond tier 1 suppliers. It’s just as critical to know who your suppliers’ suppliers are as it is to know your own suppliers. Tier 1 supplier monitoring systems are not enough. Companies need to understand what’s behind the purchase and the potential risks. Social media and consumers’ accessibility to information has raised the risk for brands. In 2012, a Saks Fifth Avenue customer found a disturbing letter in her shopping bag. It was a plea for help from a man forced to work in a Chinese prison factory where the bag was made. 


Q. Which companies inspire you with their approach to removing slavery from their supply chains?


During the launch of my film, Call+Response, we decided to send an e-mail to Steve Jobs asking if slave labor was used to mine the tantalum in iPhones. Six hours later, we received a response from Jobs stating “I have no idea. I’ll look into it.”  Now, Apple is leading the way with examining its supply chain and holding suppliers accountable for maintaining its standards.


A lot of companies are doing audits, but these are lagging indicators. Most factories clean-up in advance of audits. Companies need to build the leading indicators, not rely on lagging. Apple and Intel are leaders with addressing the issue of conflict minerals. Both companies are a model for using their purchasing power to clean up their supply chains. With time, attention and data, companies can buy better.


Q. What steps can companies take to start addressing this issue in their supply chains?


Our FDRM database is a place where companies can start the journey to cleaning up their supply chains using non-competitive information.  We take all the intelligence and research from all leading indicators and synthesized it to deliver actionable data. Companies can see goods and commodities tied to risk analysis that delivers a deeper sense of their products. Our partnership with Ariba and its business network delivers even greater insights. Companies can evaluate their spending and supply chain against the FRDM database and get a view of areas where forced labor may exist. They can also get alerts on potential future risks and identify alternative sources of supply. Ultimately, we want transparency in supply chains to become a normal system.


Q. In your view, which countries are taking a leadership role to eradicate slavery?


I’m impressed with Brazil’s focus on this issue. Initially, it was one of the biggest markets our slavery footprint website.  Now, Brazil is taking a whole society approach, with notable action from its legislature.


Connect with Justin on Twitter @justindillon. To join the pilot program offered by Ariba and Made in a Free World, visit

This blog originally appeared at SAP Business Trends.

An integral part of any organization's diversity program is to ensure that they promote diversity outside of the company in addition to their internal efforts. One way organizations accomplish this goal is through supplier diversity programs that support minority owned businesses with which they do business. Supplier diversity can include all underrepresented groups who can provide goods or services to the organization. They are commonly referred to as minority and women owned business enterprises (M/WBE's). However, it can include all types of organizations that are owned or operated by underrepresented members of the population.


There are five key steps every company should follow to set up and run an extensive and effective supplier diversity program:

  1. Defining the Scope of Supplier Diversity
  2. Link Supplier Diversity with Organizational Goals – Make the Business Case
  3. Connecting with Underrepresented Suppliers
  4. Running the Supplier Diversity Program
  5. Supplier Development Program for Underrepresented Suppliers


Additionally, organizations should set measurable goals for their supplier diversity program.

  • What percent of total purchases does the organization want to make from underrepresented suppliers in one year, five years, and ten years?
  • How many new minority/women/disabled suppliers does the organization want to do business each year?
  • Are there certain competitors that you want to surpass in your commitment to supplier diversity?
  • How do they measure their performance on supplier diversity?


These are all questions that an organization should consider as it begins its development of a supplier diversity initiative. Linking supplier diversity with the organization's goals is the next step in creating a successful program. The objectives and motivations that drive the supplier diversity initiative must support those of the organization as a whole. The business case for supplier diversity must be clear to everyone in the organization. This is an important step in getting support from all members of senior management, from operations to finance, marketing, and human resources. The organization must develop and communicate a clear and concise mission statement and vision for supplier diversity to employees, vendors, customers, and shareholders. Everyone connected with the organizations must understand the role and level of importance of supplier diversity so they can be active participants in the program. One key tool that will help demonstrate the organization's commitment to supplier diversity is to make it part of the performance review process. Hold all relevant employees accountable for achieving specific goals with supplier diversity and reward those that exceed those goals.

Hi all,


Many of you recently participated in the customer-only SIPM 13s1 Feature Survey.  We will be posting the compiled results of that survey shortly in the Customer Success group.  This group is private to Ariba customers only.  The 13s1 feature survey results will only be available via this group, so register as soon as possible we'll get you approved so you can view the results.  Thanks!

Skill Set—Job Descriptions:

The following list of skill sets are examples of what is needed or what can be considered in defining future roles.


Note: These are all taken from an Ariba client who built a SE Program while implementing Ariba Solutions. These are specific to a Supplier Enablement Program Manager or Lead Role.


Sourcing Methodology background

  • Provides insight into building a supplier on-boarding process as well as when to engage teams throughout the organization.


Bachelors degree or equivalent work experience in Information Services with EDI or cXML specific knowledge

  • Ability to understand Supplier EDI/cXML implementations
  • Suppliers who also have certain invoice failures for example, may reach out to <<Customer>> directly with questions
  • Note that suppliers utilizing these technologies can be directed to the Ariba Help Desk


Excellent interpersonal, communication, and analytical skills

  • Candidate must be able to work with multiple departments and all levels of management
  • Must be able to communicate effectively
  • Ability to analyze issues with business documents (PO and invoice)
  • Ability to analyze and determine solutions to problems that arise with business processes


Workload management skills and the ability to get engaged in complex assignments and meet tight deadlines

  • Efficient with Microsoft Office suite (including Project and Visio)
    • Reporting tools and applications will differ and having a good working knowledge of the entire MS Office suite will allow a variety of reporting options.
    • Strong project management skills
    • Supplier enablement encompasses many projects at the same time. When your organization engages with larger, more strategic suppliers, these need to be treated and organized as a project.


When Working with Your Suppliers
When Working with Your End Users
Buyer Involvement
  • Get imitate buy-in to the benefits and avoid resistance
  • Don’t hide supplier fees
  • Explain Supplier advantages
  • Live demo to show ease of use
  • Engage marketing
  • Hand-hold suppliers
  • Discount terms can be offered to entice suppliers to join
  • Keep end users up to date on enabled commodities and preferred suppliers
  • Manage Catalogs to ensure items are available
  • Contracts to indicate preferred suppliers
  • Monthly email notification with new/ changed commodities or suppliers
  • Enforce 100% compliance via single requestion platform with new vendor process
  • End to end Supplier Enablement incorporated to new contracts (or amendments)
  • Alignment of decentralized and centralized buying activities
  • Collaborative Drive with Sourcing Efforts = Partnership with Strategic Sourcing
  • Sourcing must have the final eenablement in mind
  • New/Amended Contract Clauses
  • Consider local requirements in global contracts


Remember - Ariba is Here to Help


Leverage Ariba’s proven methodology and services team to expedite supplier enablement or use our self-service tools to manage the process in-house.


Outsource Supplier Enablement

  • Experienced teams dedicated to on boarding, tracking and educating suppliers and ensuring supplier
  • Satisfaction
  • Accelerate the establishment of ready-to-transact supplier relationships (for portal and integrated suppliers)
  • Enable large numbers of suppliers by leveraging Ariba’s organizational structures, including 24-hour support and global coverage
  • Scale your supplier enablement with additional capacity from Ariba
  • Easily onboard all your suppliers and achieve quicker value with those suppliers already using the


Ariba Network Self-Service Ariba Supplier Enablement Automation

  • Load full vendor master file and segment into waves
  • Easily assign suppliers to enablement activities and quickly create supplier accounts
  • Monitor supplier progress throughout the process, and know when a supplier is ready to transact
  • Add customized content to supplier enablement welcome letters
  • Systematically capture and address supplier questions
  • Download supplier enablement status reports for management updates


Ariba Supplier Enablement provides options for moving suppliers to an electronic process.

Leverage our proven methodology and services team to handle enablement for you or use our self-service, supplier automation tools to manage the process on your own. Based upon Ariba’s best practices expertise, these tools empower you to quickly target and enroll new suppliers to meet your objectives. Companies that partner with Ariba Supplier Enablement Services benefit from the following value-added capabilities that ensure effective and efficient trading partner collaboration.


Ariba Supplier Enablement Results

World-class organizations have enabled thousands of their global suppliers on to the Ariba Network for better business commerce.

  • A global equipment manufacturer has activated more than 4,400 suppliers globally to process 90% of its global indirect spend through the Ariba Network.
  • A leading computer systems manufacturer on boarded 850 EMEA suppliers within three months. About 50% of targeted suppliers were already participating in the Ariba Network, accelerating the supplier enablement process.
  • A Fortune 100 energy company enabled more than 1,400 suppliers across eight SAP systems with Ariba for electronic processing of PO and non-PO invoices.
  • A global entertainment company enabled more than 2,200 suppliers for PO and invoice automation, detailed remittance delivery, and dynamic discounting—reducing AP headcount by 30 percent.


Previous: Supplier Enablement - Roles and Responsibilities


Beverly Dunn is a Client Engagement Executive with Ariba. All customers are invited to join the private Customer Success group on Ariba Exchange, where you can access the Customer Success Spotlights, Lunch 'n Learn Webinar calendar and replays, and the Ariba Knowledge Nuggets.



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