By connecting multiple Ariba Commerce Cloud solutions into a single, unified platform, the new Seller Collaboration Console simplifies and streamlines your ability to obtain leads, participate in sourcing events, manage contracts, and handle ordering and invoicing with your customers. It also delivers another great new feature: the ability to link your company profile(s) to a single Ariba Cloud Profile shared by all your Ariba Network IDs (ANIDs) and users, regardless of which solution you’re using.
As with any tool, however, the benefits you gain from this powerful new user interface depend on how skillfully you use it. To get your experience off to the right start, be sure to review the five must-know items outlined in this issue before logging in for the first time. Then take advantage of the following five best practices, which are specifically designed to help you use the Seller Collaboration Console in a way that optimizes your Ariba ROI.
Best Practice #1: Select the right account administrator. Your account administrator plays a key role in the value you realize through Ariba, so if you’re a new Ariba customer, be sure to choose someone who can do the job well. The right person will have the time and capabilities to add users with appropriate roles, set configuration options, manage customer relationships, subscribe to services, respond to user questions or problems, and maintain your Ariba account in a consistent manner. If you currently use Ariba, you already have an account administrator (to identify your administrator, log in to your account and click on Contact Administrator under Help in the upper right corner), so assess whether he or she meets the above qualifications. If not, the new Administration Navigator feature makes it easy for the current account administrator to assign the role to someone else in just a few quick steps:
- Log in as the current account administrator.
- In the Administration Navigator, select ACCOUNT SETTINGS > USERS.
- Select the user you want to transfer the account administrator role to.
- Click MAKE ADMINISTRATOR and follow the steps on the subsequent pages.
Best Practice #2: Manage your profile in a way that maximizes exposure for your business. Because both potential and existing customers rely on the information in your Ariba Cloud Profile when deciding whether to do business with you, it’s essential to keep it complete and accurate. In addition to filling out all requested fields, you should frequently review and update them to keep your profile current. While every section is important, pay special attention to the following four:
- Addresses—Buying organizations use your company name and main address to transact with you through Ariba Discovery™, Ariba Sourcing™, Ariba Contract Management™, and the Ariba® Network, so be sure this information is always up to date. You should also add any addresses served by your account, such as your company’s subsidiaries, since these are exposed to Ariba Sourcing buyers and can be used by your own team members when creating invoices online.
- Commodities, sales territories, and industries—As the key criteria used to match your company to potential buyers through Ariba Discovery, these three fields are vitally important in helping you obtain new leads, so be sure to make your choices carefully.
- Contacts—By assigning specific contacts to answer queries in particular topic areas (such as accounts payable, catalog management, or sales), you can ensure that buyers will be able to reach the correct person quickly and easily via phone, fax, or email. For your Ariba Network relationships, you have the option to designate both companywide contacts and customer-specific contacts.
- Marketing—Subscribing to Ariba Discovery Advantage increases your visibility to potential buyers by giving you preferential placement in search results along with the option to display enhanced sales and marketing information—including a detailed company description, D&B fraud risk scores, logos, URLs, attachments, and links to social media files—in your Ariba Cloud Profile. It is recommended that you assign a marketing team member to be the user responsible for completing and maintaining this section of your profile.
Best Practice #3: Create the account structure best suited to your business needs. (Note: If you already have multiple Ariba accounts/ANIDs, this section may not apply to you. Please see Best Practice #4 to learn how to link your existing accounts.) To meet your business needs and help you better serve customers, Ariba gives you the flexibility to create more than one account/ANID if you wish. For example, you may decide to have separate ANIDs for different countries, divisions, sales reps, or other categories. While optimal setups vary from company to company, as a general rule it’s better to have the fewest number of accounts possible, since this lessens the time required for maintenance while making it easier for account dashboards to display aggregated views. Below are some additional guidelines for specific areas:
- Lead discovery: Ideally, you should use a single account for Ariba Discovery and assign all commodity codes applicable for your company to it. If your business units have distinct sales organizations or your product lines vary significantly, however, you may want to use a different account for each area to channel email notifications to the right contact and keep dashboards cleaner. Though it’s generally best to use English in all text fields, you can create a separate account in instances where localized language is essential. If you do this, use the Sales Territory attribute to be sure the right profile is displayed to potential customers.
- Proposals and contract management: While it’s usually optimal to use one account for all Ariba Sourcing buyer relationships so you can take advantage of having a single Proposals and Contract Management dashboard, you may wish to create different accounts for each of your business units if they have distinct or large sales organizations or your product lines differ significantly. Every team member involved should be set up as a cloud account user with “Access Proposals and Contracts” permission (note that these users are automatically synched to Sourcing buyer relationships as proposed invitees for sourcing events). Be sure to collaborate with your sales organization to identify existing Ariba Sourcing users and inform them about the account.
- Orders and invoices: The recommended account structure here varies depending on your business processes:
- If your back-end or ERP system is or will be electronically integrated, you should create one account per integrated fulfillment system.
- If you use email or fax for inbound transactions (such as POs) and online entry for outbound ones (such as invoices) and lack a central fulfillment department, you can base the number of accounts you create on your sales territories.
- If you do set up multiple accounts, be sure to select “Manually review all relationship requests” under Account Settings/Customer Relationships/Set Your Preferred Way to Receive Relationship Requests.
- If you use a single account for multiple fulfillment centers and the related sold-from units, notifications will be sent through a centrally maintained (self-service) email address. Ensure that the right team members receive them by setting up a distribution list with rules and shared email boxes.
Best Practice #4: Link Ariba accounts to consolidate account management and service management tasks. If you have more than one Ariba account, you can gain various advantages by creating relationships between them. You do this by linking your accounts.
- Create parent-child links (i.e., one parent account linked to any number of child accounts) to enable parent account administrators to manage settings and components—including instant access to solution-specific dashboards and related child account services—for all accounts. While both parent and child accounts are visible in buyer searches, you have the option to make child accounts invisible by unchecking the “Allow buyer organizations to search this account” setting.
- If you have duplicate accounts created by mistake, it’s important to keep these accounts current, since transactions have already been processed through them (and therefore they cannot and should not be deleted). By enabling the new Profile Sharing feature, however, you can automatically synchronize your parent account profile with selected child accounts, reducing the need for separate updates. Note that synchronization does not occur in all fields and settings (e.g., electronic order/invoice routing), so you will need to maintain these on an individual basis.
- Take advantage of the User Account Navigator to link and quickly navigate among multiple user accounts, and use the Account Hierarchy feature to link multiple child accounts to a parent to realize the benefits described above.
Best Practice #5: Assign permissions according to employee function. Your account administrator should assign user roles with permissions to employees based on their function in your company, such as:
- Company profile manager
- Leads creator/manager
- Proposal and contract manager
- Order manager
- Invoice manager
Inform individual users and teams in your company about the cloud accounts to which they’re assigned, so they’ll be well prepared to respond to and collaborate with customers. If you participate in sourcing events, be sure to give appropriate users “Access Proposals and Contracts” permission so that sourcing customers can see and approve them to join events (note that by default, other users are not visible to or searchable by your customers). You should also regularly review, identify, and eliminate or reassign unapproved “rogue” users added to your account as a result of buyers asking them to participate in sourcing events. Finally, specify one or more Ariba Discovery users with assigned permissions such as “Respond to postings on Ariba Discovery” to ensure that interested buyers reach the right person(s). You can also add or approve additional contacts to receive Ariba Discovery notifications.
Find Out More
For more information, review the “Seller Account Settings and Profile Configuration” guide available at Help@Ariba. To access it, log into your account at http://seller.ariba.com/, click on Help in the upper right-hand corner, and then select Product Documentation. You can also watch the “Ariba Seller Collaboration Console: Five Best Practices” webcast, which provides additional details on the topics covered in this article. And you can find many other useful Seller Collaboration Console resources, including step-by-step instructional tutorials on specific features, at https://knowledge.ariba.com/ONDReleaseSellerPortal.