Whats the deal with Ariba? – Part 1

The Suppliers


If you’re in the wonderful world of proposals (RFP’s, RFI’s, RFQ’s, etc), you’ve probably heard rumblings about a new procurement platform called SAP Ariba. We are here to break down Ariba for those of you on the supplier side (responding to proposals on Ariba), with the buyer’s perspective to come in a later post.

Transition of proposals

To understand where we’re going, it always helps to understand where we’ve been. Procurement is constantly evolving and growing. We’ve seen a significant transition over the last 10 years from proposals seen as an annoying formality to now viewed as a strategic business process. There was a shift from just throwing some words down on paper with a fee, to buyers wanting us to tell a story of who, what, where, when, & why. In recent years, buyers have moved beyond storytelling to wanting hard facts (scope, methodology, deliverables, team, and fee) in a clean and concise manner. Owners no longer want fluff and long drawn out proposal submissions, they want to know without a reasonable doubt that you’re the best for the job. The best way to convey this is by addressing and answering the questions being asked in the Request for Proposal documents. This is where Ariba comes in.

What is Ariba?

SAP Ariba is an online platform for global procurement, promoting procurement with a purpose. Their reach spans North America, Central & South America, Europe, and Asia. Ariba “began with a mission to help companies control spending and cut costs by making it easier for buyers and suppliers to work together. In 2012 Ariba was acquired by SAP, the world’s largest business software company and in 2016 they launched their new brand identity.”  They have been helping change the face of procurement by allowing buyers to release RFP’s, award and sign contracts, and release payment all on one connected platform.

When responding to proposals on Ariba, there’s little to no room for fluffy add-ons or extra information the vendor might think is relevant. Ariba has taken out any grey area and created a portal where bidders fill in the blanks. Bidders have to ensure they are hitting the mark and strategically answering questions with little to no room for deviation.

As with most online platforms, there are both free and paid services through Ariba. As a supplier, responding to most online opportunities is free, and it’s relatively easy to create an Ariba account. Ariba goes a step further by gathering information about what products or services you offer & matches you with potential opportunities in the areas you’re interested in. Additionally, a buyer can be invited to respond to an opportunity posted by an owner/buyer.

Who’s using it?

What does this interactive global procurement platform mean for the Alberta marketplace? As of spring of 2019, the City of Edmonton mandated using Ariba for all procurement needs and this fall, the City of Edmonton will be using the Ariba network to issue purchase orders, receive invoices, and communicate payment information.

There are also rumblings the City of Calgary will be following suit soon. Outside of Alberta, the following is a small sample of the growing list of companies/organizations using Ariba across North America.

  • City of Toronto
  • Government of Nova Scotia
  • South Coast BC Transportation Authority (TransLink)
  • Ontario Power Generation
  • The Ohio State University
  • New York Power Authority
  • T- Mobile

Available Resources

If you have yet to venture into the Ariba procurement world there are plenty of resources out there to help in your journey. From the Ariba support network itself where you can live chat with someone, search FAQ’s and watch countless online tutorials, to the various procurement and online tutorials on YouTube you can pretty much find it all and then some. However, that will take you a significant amount of time. If you don’t have the luxury of time to scroll through tutorials, or are still finding yourself turned upside down when responding to an opportunity on Ariba, you can contact your local proposal experts (that’s us!). We have successfully helped clients navigate, prepare, and respond to opportunities through Ariba. While technology undoubtedly has streamlined and made procurement more efficient and cost-effective, sometimes a personal touch is all that’s needed to bridge the gap. Please feel free to reach out for more information.

Make sure to watch for Part 2 – The Buyers – to be posted soon.