The new Seller Collaboration Console is generating quite a buzz in the seller community—along with plenty of questions about the various features and functions being introduced. Supply Lines recently talked with Austin Whitehead, Ariba senior product marketing manager for seller solutions, to get his response to some of the most common queries.
Supply Lines: What is the Ariba Seller Collaboration Console, and how does it benefit sellers?
Austin Whitehead: The Ariba Seller Collaboration Console is Ariba’s next generation of the Ariba Commerce Cloud specifically for our seller customers. It gives sellers a single, unified platform that enables them to quickly navigate to all Ariba seller solutions, efficiently manage buyer relationships across those solutions, and easily maintain their Ariba Cloud Profile. It also simplifies and streamlines their ability to obtain leads, participate in sourcing events, manage contracts, and handle ordering and invoicing with all their customers through Ariba. This is another step forward in our announced mission to consumerize business commerce and make commerce better for business.
SL: Why is Ariba delivering this set of functionality?
AW: In order to better serve both our seller and buyer customers. Our selling customers requested:
- The ability to manage company profiles across multiple connections and sourcing opportunities
- The ability to manage multiple accounts and events with a single, unified solution in the cloud
- A seamless user experience with linked accounts and multiple roles
- Increased visibility to real decision makers in their market
And our buyer customers asked for:
- Single seller profiles with accurate and timely profile data and certificate information
- Better visibility into seller performance
- Easier onboarding and usability by their seller partners
- Access to a global community of sellers with rich profile information
SL: Will all users, even existing ones, have to accept the new TOU?
SL: Why must every user accept the new TOU, whereas previously the account administrator was able to accept for the entire organization?
SL: Does accepting the new TOU bind sellers to the terms for all available seller solutions?
AW: Accepting the new TOU will allow sellers to move seamlessly between the Ariba solutions they access to drive their market-to-cash business processes. The new, consolidated TOU makes it possible for the seller to use four distinct Ariba services (the Ariba Network, Ariba Discovery, Ariba Sourcing, and Ariba Contract Management) by registering only once, obtaining one set of login credentials, and accepting just one TOU. However, the service-specific terms only apply to sellers if their company actually uses that particular service.
General Navigation and Administration
SL: Okay, let’s change the topic to functionality. I know there have been some specific questions about how new functionality will change how a seller utilizes Ariba solutions. To start with, in the past sellers have been able to open multiple windows and work as different users. Why can’t they do that now?
AW: Because of the cookie management and single-sign-on capability, sellers must now log off as the previous user or users before they can log on as a new user. Additionally, they can link their usernames so they can switch between users while within the applications. If the seller needs to open a different user concurrently, they can do so by opening a different browser—not a second browser window of the same browser.
SL: Is each “registration” equivalent to creating an account? So if sellers still want multiple accounts, they need to complete multiple registrations, and then they can link them as parent to child later?
AW: Yes, sellers are free to create multiple company accounts. While the number of accounts they create will depend on their distribution and integration strategy, the best practice is to create and manage as few accounts as possible. Each account can be used for multiple sales territories and sold-from units.
SL: Where can sellers find their user information and password to update?
AW: They can manage their individual account information from the My Account link, which can be accessed by clicking on their name in the upper right-hand corner of the window. There’s more information about account management in Managing Your User Account under the Using tab in Help@Ariba/Product Documentation.
SL: How do sellers manage their catalog content?
AW: That hasn't changed. It’s still done on the Ariba Network (Orders & Invoices in the task bar) by clicking on the Catalogs tab.
Ariba Commerce Cloud Account Management
SL: So in terms of managing a seller account profile, what if the seller already has an Ariba Network or Ariba Commerce Cloud account?
AW: The ability for sellers to effectively manage their accounts across all Ariba seller solutions and buying organizations is a key feature of the Ariba Commerce Cloud. Sellers are encouraged to proactively look across their organizations to understand their current account footprint. Ariba has established the following in-product features to help sellers better manage their accounts:
- Preexisting user accounts as part of an established Ariba Commerce Cloud account—When sellers participating in a sourcing event are automatically directed to the Ariba Commerce Cloud Welcome page, we’ll help them by matching their email address to a preexisting Ariba Commerce Cloud account. If we find a match, we’ll make it easy to use that account. If sellers forget their username or password, they can utilize the Forgot Password or Forgot Username functionality to reset their password or have their username sent to their e-mail.
- Proactive account search—Sellers can go to http://discovery.ariba.com and click on I’m Buying, then use the Preview Suppliers tab to do a quick search for their own company listing. If they find it, they’re already part of the Ariba Commerce Cloud. Seller users are encouraged to contact the account administrator to get added to their existing account. The account administrator is most likely someone within their sales/marketing or accounts receivable teams.
SL: I understand that after this release [12s1], sellers now manage their logins and account information in the cloud. What are the main things they need to understand so they can participate in buyer sourcing events?
AW: As sellers access existing or new sourcing events the first time after general availability, they’ll be guided through the process of creating their Ariba Commerce Cloud account. This process is purposely designed to be quick and easy for the seller to complete, with in-product guidance provided at every step.
Upon accessing their Ariba Commerce Cloud Account, with a single click, sellers can navigate to the Proposals solution, where they’ll be presented with all the buyer sourcing relationships they have associated with that cloud account. These appear in a multi-tabbed format, with each tab representing a unique buying organization relationship. Each buyer tab contains the Seller Collaboration Console sourcing dashboard, which includes all the sourcing and contract management events and related tasks that seller user is actively participating in or has participated in in the past.
Additionally, seller users with profile updating permission can complete or refine the information contained in their Ariba Cloud Profile. Complete and accurate profile information is important to both buying and selling organizations to help drive better collaboration across lead and sourcing opportunities. Seller users can work with their account administrator to update their permissions as needed. If sellers don’t know who their account administrator is, they can log in and use the Contact Administrator feature available from the Help menu.
For additional questions or support, help is always just one click away. The improved Help@Ariba pages now present information by audience (user or administrator) with better-organized content. Additionally, expanded pre-login documentation is now available to support the seller registration and login processes.
SL: From a sourcing activity perspective, will all the other seller users in that organization be able to see that event and participate?
AW: No, only seller users who have been invited by the buyer to participate in the event can access it.
SL: If a seller didn't put in their existing Ariba Commerce Cloud username when they opened their sourcing event, is there a way to go back and assign that sourcing event to their cloud username?
AW: No, you cannot go back and reassign this sourcing event to your existing username. You have to use the Linking Account functionality and toggle between accounts. This is extremely important, and I can’t emphasize it enough. The first time you log into a sourcing event after the 12s1 release, you must utilize your Ariba Commerce Cloud username so that your sourcing event is tied to your Ariba Cloud Profile.
SL: When a seller user is participating in multiple sourcing events, do they have to go through the registration process again for each event?
AW: No, the user only needs to link to the same Ariba Commerce Cloud account for any subsequent buyer relationship. The automatically initiated upgrade flow allows the use of an existing account by simply providing the username and password from an existing account user. It’s essential that the seller user link every buyer relationship to the same account in order to obtain the full value of their Seller Collaboration Console containing tabs for each relationship and their shared profile across all their relationships.
SL: Why should a seller link their accounts and/or profiles?
AW: Sellers can use the Account Hierarchy to link accounts to ease maintenance for the administrator and users with Child Account Access permission. In addition, for accounts that were created by mistake (duplicate accounts), sellers can use the Link Profile option in Account Hierarchy to further ease profile maintenance. Administrators and users with Child Account Access permission can use the Sign On to Child Account feature to access the child account in the role of an administrator and perform child account profile maintenance.
SL: Can a seller unlink a previously linked account?
AW: Yes, the administrator or users with Account Hierarchy Administration permission from the parent or child account can unlink previously linked accounts.
SL: Suppose a seller has multiple duplicate accounts that were created by mistake. With the new linkage feature, can they consolidate accounts?
AW: The Account Linkage feature allows sellers to link multiple accounts, creating a parent-child account hierarchy. Linking multiple accounts can help make duplicate accounts easier to manage, but does not consolidate them. There’s more information about account linkage in Seller Account Settings and Profile Configuration/Creating Account Hierarchies under the Administration tab in Help@Ariba/Product Documentation.
SL: If a seller links an account as a child, what information is shared between the parent and child?
AW: Administrators are able to determine by account what information is managed at the parent versus child account level. The parent can sign on to all its child accounts and thereby access the complete profile. In addition, for accounts that were created by mistake (duplicate accounts), sellers can use the Link Profile option in Account Hierarchy to automatically synchronize most of the account profile details from the parent to the child account.
The Account Hierarchy feature allows sellers to flexibly manage multiple/duplicate accounts. Information about account linkage can be found by going to Help@Ariba, then clicking Product Documentation, the Administration tab, Seller Account Settings and Profile Configuration, and Creating Account Hierarchies.
SL: As a seller, if I’m the administrator of a child account, and we link to a parent, does the parent administrator automatically become the administrator for the child accounts, and do I lose my administration privileges?
AW: No, the child administrator stays the same, but the parent account administrator and users with Child Account Access or Account Hierarchy Administration permission can log in with administration rights to the child account.
SL: How do sellers link to multiple customer sourcing events across multiple customers?
AW: Users accessing non-upgraded accounts need to have a user in an existing Ariba Commerce Cloud account and select Use Existing Account during the upgrade, which will link a single Ariba Commerce Cloud account to multiple events. If you fail to do this during the initial upgrade process, you can still link the accounts via a parent/child relationship, but you’ll have to toggle between the usernames, and the customer will not appear in the consolidated Seller Collaboration Console.
SL: How will Ariba detect parent/child relationships to recognize which contact user can respond on behalf of an organization and how the organizations are linked?
AW: The seller controls their parent/child relationships and determines which accounts, if any, to link. To support this, Ariba runs matching based on core profile fields to recommend accounts for potential account linkage. Once a parent/child relationship has been established, the parent account controls most of the shared profile fields. The buyer-specific Supplier Profile Questionnaire, or SPQ, fields are controlled at the child level based on the organization that was invited to participate in the project or event. Sellers can find more information on parent/child linkage in Help@Ariba.
SL: So where can sellers go for additional details about the Seller Collaboration Console?
AW: Beyond Help@Ariba, they can go to the seller portal page at https://knowledge.ariba.com/ONDReleaseSellerPortal, which contains:
- Release documentation
- Copies of the new Ariba terms as well as a summary of the changes
- The complete list of frequently asked questions
SL: Thank you very much.