SAP Ariba - Solutions for Purchasing and Procurement

Digitize purchasing and procurement processes, from supplier selection to contract - with SAP Ariba. We provide an overview of the features, functions and benefits of the cloud-based B2B marketplace.

What is SAP Ariba?

SAP Ariba is a cloud-based platform for purchasing and procurement. It supports buyers in all their classic tasks and ensures the digital transformation of the purchasing process.

In addition to various strategic tools, the solution has a function as a B2B marketplace where companies and their suppliers can collaborate and transact virtually.

The interfaces are reminiscent of the ease of use that users of B2C marketplaces are familiar with from private online shopping. However, buyers have access to far more business management features in the background. Ultimately, all steps in the procurement process can be mapped digitally.

The history of Ariba

Ariba was founded in California in 1996. Even at that time, the goal was to offer users a transparent purchasing and procurement platform to optimize processes and improve supplier management.

In 1999, Ariba went public and grew significantly through acquisitions. In 2012, SAP acquired the company. This was followed by integration into the ERP area. Today, the cloud platform helps SAP customers digitally transform their entire procurement process.

From SAP SRM to Ariba

Many companies previously used SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SAP SRM) in conjunction with SAP ERP (ECC) to manage their supplier relationships and improve business relationships.

However, in the course of the new ERP product generation SAP S/4HANA, SAP announced that maintenance for SAP SRM will be discontinued at the end of 2025.

The Walldorf-based group is placing the Ariba platform as its successor. It has even created its own tool, "Transform SRM," which companies can use to move from SAP SRM to the Ariba cloud.

How does SAP Ariba work?

From an end-user perspective, the SAP Ariba Network offers similar interfaces to modern online marketplaces (e.g., Amazon). Suppliers can offer their products on the platform using classic store functions. Corresponding catalog features (item master data and price maintenance) are part of the Ariba standard.

For procurement, SAP Ariba provides role management, which can be used to map individual compliance guidelines and authorizations. This ensures that purchasing processes comply with all internal regulations. Procurement users also have access to numerous tools and reports that simplify supplier selection and management.

Various customizing options can also be used to adapt Ariba's own marketplace to individual needs in order to improve the user experience. For example, certain suppliers or categories can be shown or hidden. This means that users only see the content they need for their current purchasing process. Of course, SAP Ariba also works seamlessly with SAP S/4HANA.

What functions does SAP Ariba offer?

From the perspective of the procuring company, the functions of SAP Ariba can be categorized as follows:

  • Supplier Management: managing supplier data, supplier lifecycles, performance and risks.
  • Strategic Sourcing: supplier selection ("Ariba Discovery"), tendering, contract management, spend analysis
  • Supply chain: linking partners along the supply chain
  • Procurement: electronic purchasing (e-procurement)
  • Financial supply chain: strategically manage liabilities in the supply chain, optimize cash flow
  • Integration: merging data and processes from different applications (SAP S/4HANA and third-party systems) on a central platform

Who is SAP Ariba suitable for?

SAP Ariba is aimed at medium-sized businesses and large companies and corporations that want to digitize their procurement and purchasing processes.

The platform is equally suitable for the procurement of direct and indirect materials. The system can also be used for purchasing services. Although Ariba can be operated stand-alone, the individual solutions only develop their maximum potential in conjunction with SAP S/4HANA.

Who are the typical users of SAP Ariba?

The typical users of SAP Ariba can be divided into two groups: Buyers and Suppliers.

For purchasing, the platform allows them to strategically control and operationally manage the entire purchasing process - from sourcing to ordering to supplier invoice clearing.

Suppliers can use the Ariba network to help their customers drive the digitization of their procurement. Furthermore, the platform allows them to acquire new customers, increase sales and improve cash flow.

What is SAP Ariba Start Sourcing?

SAP ARIBA Start Sourcing is a kind of entry-level solution. The free, intuitive and web-based tool enables companies to create, execute and manage sourcing actions directly from their PC.

Users also gain access to the marketplace of millions of suppliers. Key features include:

  • Create and manage RFPs
  • Obtain competitive bids
  • Manage supplier profiles
  • Digitize supplier communications

What is Ariba Snap?

SAP Ariba in its standard version is a complex tool with numerous customization options. The implementation effort is correspondingly high. This is exacerbated by licensing and subscription costs, which are more in line with the budgets of large corporations.

SAP has recognized this problem and created a solution for medium-sized businesses with Ariba SNAP. SNAP aims at a shorter implementation time in order to reduce project costs.

This is achieved through pre-configurations. Likewise, the SME solution comes with an adapted licensing model. Functionally, Ariba SNAP focuses on operational purchasing.

What is Ariba Spot Buy?

Ariba Spot Buy is an additional marketplace solution for Ariba with numerous international suppliers that supports companies with spontaneous purchases. The process can be roughly outlined as follows:

  • Search item: If an item is not listed in the catalog, the user starts a search in SAP Ariba Spot Buy
  • Reconciliation and approval based on preconfigured business rules
  • Purchase: check-out, secure payment and shipping
  • Subscription fee: packages with different volumes of orders and invoices

How do I use the Ariba network?

This question needs to be answered from two perspectives: the buying organization and the selling organization.

The procuring organization gains access to the Ariba network as part of the implementation of its SAP Ariba solution.

Naturally, once implemented, the company will want to encourage as many suppliers as possible to join the network. It will therefore issue appropriate invitations. So the supplier will be asked to become a member of the Ariba Network.

From the supplier's point of view, however, there may be other motivations for signing up to the Ariba Network - for example, a customer's invitation to tender or simply the desire to generate new customers and build business relationships via the platform.

How can a company become a member of the SAP Ariba Network?

To become a member of the SAP Ariba Network, suppliers simply need to register on the Ariba platform. They can choose between two options: the standard account and the enterprise account.

The standard account is free of charge and offers the most important basic operational functions. The enterprise account, on the other hand, has an extended range of functions that can be used not only to map existing business digitally, but also to expand and strengthen it.

How do suppliers and catalogs get into the Ariba cloud?

Companies that want to see their suppliers and their catalogs mapped in the Ariba cloud have to solve this in an organizational way.

From a technical point of view, suppliers only need basic IT know-how to provide the desired content. For example, they have the option of uploading their entire product range using "SAP Ariba Catalog" via a convenient interface.

Ariba also provides several modern content management tools with which catalog content can be defined, validated and enriched with additional information. Suppliers are also supported by an automatic, policy-based quality check.

Is there a separate contract between SAP Ariba and the supplier?

No. Contractual relationships exist only between the buyer and the seller. However, suppliers must accept the terms and conditions of the Ariba network.

What are the technical requirements for using Ariba Network?

Thanks to the cloud approach, the technical entry barriers of the Ariba Network are minimal. Suppliers only need an Internet-enabled device with a common web browser to use the system.

How secure is Ariba Network in terms of privacy and confidentiality?

The Ariba Network uses common security mechanisms to adequately protect the sometimes confidential data within the network. For example, uploaded documents and sensitive information are encrypted before storage and transmission. The same applies to the communication channels. The servers are generally located in Europe and are designed with redundancy.

How long is data stored by SAP Ariba?

The duration of data storage depends on the legal requirements. This ensures that the currently valid retention periods are adhered to. SAP itself does not have access to the data.

Does SAP Ariba support mobile devices?

Yes, the SAP Ariba app for iOS and Android is available for mobile use. Among other things, it enables users to search catalogs, create and approve purchase requisitions, send reminders, and retrieve procurement-related reports.

Is there a charge for SAP Ariba?

The Ariba platform is free for suppliers for up to four transactions per year. After that, a pricing model takes effect that consists of two components:

Transaction fee: fee for each transaction, calculated as a percentage of the transaction volume.