The following are the notes and action items from the OPUG conducted in Chicago on September 13th.

The action items are listed first and the notes are divided by agenda section.

You will also find the presentation from the meeting attached to this blog post.

 

Action Items:

  1. Ask each account to share their top 5 core code modifications (for consideration for future releases)
  2. Ask each account who is interested to send us their Ariba test scripts and performance scenarios via SR on connect
  3. We are going to evaluate sharing our load test scripts
  4. Update your connect profiles with all pertinent environment info and integrations, etc.(just one pertinent environment will be sufficient)
  5. Ariba will begin tracking Service Pack (SP) metrics.  Please send us a Service Request (SR) or let your Customer Management representative know when you start a SP deployment
  6. Facilitate rationalization of contact info in our systems. Send a communication explaining the process for cleaning up contact lists in connect (both general and DSC lists).
  7. Facilitate internal collaboration amongst Customer Management and Consulting representatives with regard to their accounts (so that they can share best practices info from other accounts with their accounts)
  8. Ariba to set up a WebEx to review 9r2 enhancements in detail
  9. Ariba will highlight changes to public API’s as a part of SP documentation
  10. After each SP release, Ariba will run and record a WebEx to cover changes in detail
  11. Ariba will publish a playbook to explain how Procurement Content (APC) works with more complicated scenarios (like Contract Compliance)
  12. We begin discussions with Solutions Mangement with regard to Supplier/Buyer portals
  13. We will share Public Sector needs ideas with Solutions Management for consideration: “Mandatory for Consideration” (requirement for suppliers) and shared catalog/cooperative contracts
  14. Share the VAT tax guide with everyone (posted in this Community in the Content section)

 

On-Premise Update

Q:  How does Ariba ensure that the broader On-Premise community (including all of the "Ariba responsible" individuals within each account) are polled with regard to enhancements for Point Releases?

A:  Ideally this is something best suited for the Customer Management representative assigned to each account.  However, we understand that some are still getting up to speed with your accounts.  Therefore, we sent broad communications, posted the list to Exchange, and conducted breakout sessions at LIVE to make the community aware and get their input for 9r2.  Only 25% of the On-Premise accounts responded.

And once we narrowed down the list, the focus groups were intended to ensure that we clearly understood what was desired from each feature.  We have to rely on a single point person within each account as well as the Customer Management representative (not feasible to invite multiple individuals from within each account to give feedback - could provide too many differing opinions).

 

Q:  SAP will have significant implication on adapters, etc. Customers would like to have an on-going, clear understanding of what this means for the roadmap to be able to provide valuable input as to future release plans.
A: It will probably be a year or more before we really know.  We still want to provide innovation between now and then - we don’t want to risk putting things on hold.
The roadmap will be a continuous discussion.  We will most likely begin discussing the next release beyond 9r2 mid-2013.

 

Q:  Is Ariba tapping into Consulting resources (or our deployment partners) on projects?
A:  We struggle with this, but we do need to figure out how to collectively harness the internal knowledge.  W
e were out of touch with accounts that didn’t use Consulting (except for support).  CMO is more equipped to be able to communicate “across the board” info back now – still not quite where we really need to be, but getting there.  Additionally, the candidate enhancements for upcoming future releases (beyond 9r2) will include a number of features proposed by Consulting based on common customer requests.

Q:  Does Ariba really expect CMO to have this level of expertise?
A:  We are asking them to understand *many* things and it will take them a little time to fully understand their accounts (which they should by now).  But yes, they should know how to get answers and provide direction based on understanding the roadmap.  Comment from an attendee
– it may not be reasonable for each CMO rep to understand every little thing about their accounts (especially the larger, more complex deployments).  Instead the customer should be responsible for sharing the information that they would be willing to pass along to other accounts with their CMO rep.  Most attendees agreed and would be willing to share most information about their deployments.

9r2 Point Release Update

Q:  Does Ariba really believe that a Point Release will only be 50% more impactful than a SP to deploy?

A:  Yes, that is our goal and we will take whatever steps we can to make this happen.  We are willing to incorporate any customer test scripts into regression testing for 9r2 (have only received these from 2 customers to date). We can also incorporate testing for performance requirements from a key transaction perspective. Send test scripts even if they are only applicable to highly customized environment.
And please let us know if you don’t feel in the loop (if we should be communicating beyond the DSC’s).

Q:  It would be great if Ariba could accelerate and get automated test scripts out – would make SP deployment much easier.
A:  We are evaluating how to help customers automate their testing.  Stay tuned for updates.

Q:  Are we really seriously considering mobile capabilities?
A:  We need to figure out for which platform, etc. first.  Then for which use cases do we want to make a mobile app (approvables, tasks, notifications, etc.)?  And for which solutions?  We will not mobile enable the entire suite.  We are “fairly confident” that we will do this.  We will be certifying on Mobile Safari (entire suite).
J&J has built one that works on iPad.
Q:  What about the Network side?
A: We are looking at it – similar approach to above.

Service Pack Implementation and Adoption
Q: 
Many of the attendees have not heard about the new SP policy.
A:  Repeat in Tech Connect newsletter and create a general post on connect.

Q:  What is the definition of “support” (ex. – if we are on SP10 now, can we stay there for a year)?
A: We will give you a hot fix on your current SP, for high severity issues, if it’s a year old or less.

Q: Does Ariba offer services to help customers deploy a SP once per year? 
A: Yes, Application Management provides Level 2/3 support.  But we can also simply supplement your team with tech resources as needed (less than App Mgmt).

General comment:  Ariba will be up to date on the most recent support for all servers by SP24 (except – AIX7, new Windows OS and database).  Not planning Google Chrome support until next year for On-Premise.

Q:  Does Ariba take advantage of lessons learned from your hosted customers? 
A:  Yes, but they have no core code mods or non-safe customizations, and are on a consistent platform.

Securing Collaboration with Your Suppliers
Q: 
Many customers looking for (or building) a
single portal/entry point for all of their procurement needs (Ariba, Fieldglass, Maximo)
A: Procurement Content could be a potential solution for multiple scenarios (ex. – all users start in Ariba or users start from other systems)
Q:  But what about adding extrinsics to items in CIF catalogs (custom UNSPSC's, etc.)?  Or connecting with Contract Compliance?
A:  We have created a playbook that covers almost all scenarios (what should stay in On-Premise and what should go in cloud)

Network Adoption and Challenges
Q:
How do customers handle Supplier Enablement/Management?
Customer 1:  Has a convoluted, manual process that is outsourced which results in multiple "fat finger" errors.  Would like to understand other best practices.
Customer 2: 
AP system feeds automatically (nightly scheduled task) into Buyer as non-PO supplier (they can then flip a switch to make them PO suppliers).
Customer 3:  Much due diligence in advance (OCC banking policies); self service supplier registration (70-80 fields); in process of real time integration with D&B (to avoid manual input of data by splr); routes through approval process (manual using eform, someone calls to verify); then they can participate in Sourcing events.  But suppliers can respond to RFx through self registration and simpler approval process (the more diligent process only applies when a supplier wins an RFx). Use DUNS number in both up and downstream (common & partitioned supplier).  Looking at SIPM to replace their custom solution.
Public sector:  Have a supplier portal (single vendor registration database).
General consensus:  Master supplier data management is a challenge.  Ariba should consider enabling the Network to be the source of truth for all vendor data management.

Most attendees agreed that the Procurement organization manages supplier enablement for their companies.
Would like Ariba to help reinforce the message that the supplier owns their account info on the Network – they shouldn’t call the Buyer customer to get help.

Q: How do customers handle Invoice Management?
Customer 1:  All invoices are managed in Ariba (contracted out to ScanOne using Ariba's Invoice Conversion Services)
Customer 2:  R
econciling invoices in SAP (download documents from the Network and bypass Buyer all together).  Their AP dept isn’t eager to eliminate paper transactions.

 

Q: How do customers handle tax?
Customer 1:  All reconciliation done in Buyer.  Have to touch every invoice because they are required to pay tax even if the supplier doesn’t include it (as a state entity).
Customer 2:  Estimates the tax on requisitions

Customer 3:  Has Vertex & SAP but they don’t put it on PO
Customer 4:  Approval flow routes to a purchasing manager who includes estimated VAT up front on requisition

 

Open Forum
Q
:  What can we do differently/better for the next OPUG?
A: Potentially have sessions for module specific topics by module
Share the detailed topics in advance to allow for better preparation
Have customers present a topic for which they have a best practice
Share what modules all attendees own in advance  (we will determine what we are legally allowed to share publicly)
NOTE:  Ariba does solicit for topics in advance (during the registration process)