Ariba Live 2016 finished a week ago and I am trying to sum up all the impressions, insights, new developments and acquaintances. It was a couple of busy days packed with interesting speaches, discussions with likeminded procurement professionals and of course Tapas.
Ariba President Alex Atzberger introduced the slogan #MakeProcurementAwsome and it pretty much sums up what I feel about working with the future of procurement and specifically how it can be improved through digital solutions.
The first step towards awesome #procurement (#=digital) is adoption. In the first key note the question was raised: “Why should professional buying be more difficult than a typical webshop experience.” Of course it should not. Two main initiatives were addressed to ensure a simple buying experience:
- Guided buying. The goal is a simple buying experience with minimal intervention from procurement professionals and a common entry point for all non- procurement buyers. Specific business rules, preferred suppliers etc are built into the solution but in general out of the attention of the end user. The buyer simply orders what is required without any further fuzz.
- Improved user interface. Again a typical webshop is the benchmark. The product required should be easy to find, and a few clicks should be enough to complete an order. Below is a screenshot of the new “guided buying” experience, which to me proves that Ariba has come a long way.
My personal reflection is that this is an important step forward for Ariba. Even though there are many out dated IT systems out there, I think a buyer in the year of 2016 should be allowed to expect this degree of sophistication. Sure a solution such as guided buying will require some initial setup work and quality procurement master data, but the value for the end user and the business sure is substantial.
The second step towards awesome #procurement lies in the transformation process. It is no surprise that a well-planned transformation process is critical for a new IT system and new business processes. This was something that was repeated in more or less all the breakout sessions and customer stories. I want to mention two points I picked up from the various customer stories for a successful transformation.
- Training is essential, but not only technical training in the new IT tool. Just as important is functional training and understanding of the new processes to ensure that the users understand the background of what they are doing
- Several of the successful Ariba stories referred to previous unsuccessful procurement IT transformations. The common denominator was too much customization and organizations thinking they were special. The lesson learned was that the organization needs to adapt. Ariba is built on industry best practices which combined with a cloud platform reduces the transformation risk and increases the implementation speed.
The importance of a well-planned transformation process sets requirements to the OCM capabilities. In addition to procurement, OCM is one of the strengths we possess in Stretch. This makes me confident that we are well positioned and well suited to cooperate with Norwegian and Scandinavian companies which want to make their procurement operation awesome by utilizing the opportunities that lies in a tool such as Ariba.