Ariba: Looking Beyond Paper Based Invoicing

Alex Atzberger, President In 1996, at Menlo Park, CA, a team of seven business comrades conferred on why there’s a huge wastage of time and money during corporate purchasing. Brainstorming over sandwiches, they soon realized the root cause—misplaced and mismanaged paper contracts; outdated paper-based procurement procedures, along with the risks and lost savings associated with it. It was also found that enterprises fail to fathom the ways in which their money is being spent and concluded that an effective solution implementation, which would not only have a walk-up interface but would also integrate with enterprise financial systems, is of grave importance. In order to alter the way businesses function, the team recognized that the solution lay in the opportunity presented by the Internet to link computer systems efficiently and exchange information. With a collective need to connect and collaborate with people by providing the right solution, Ariba was born out of a crayon doodle over a paper tablecloth.

Merging with enterprise financial systems and connecting buyers with their suppliers, the Sunnyvale-based company brings together strategic partners, employees, and investors. Started as a procurement software provider—as Ariba’s scope of work expanded—the company includes business-to-business (B2B) commerce activities in its operations. However, reaching beyond its four walls, Ariba soon became a cloud company in order to work more easily with their trading partners.

Eliminating Paper and Ink from the Creation

“Companies today are focused on accelerating their procurement performance to drive cost savings, improve integrity, deliver accelerated outcomes and meet their broad range of objectives,” extols Alex Atzberger, President, Ariba. A key element of this practice is a well-planned contract management process.

Ariba offers a robust set of configurable workflows that lets customers handle their contract types and clients can manage and search their contracts electronically in one place. “Our contract management solutions cover the full-spectrum of a contract’s lifecycle, from the creation and authoring of templates and contracts by buyers, and suppliers, to the tracking of contract compliance for procurement activity,” Atzberger says.

Reaching Beyond the Four Walls

Ariba contract management solution is a market leading SaaS solution for stakeholders addressing enterprise-wide agreement including procurement, sales contracts, intellectual property licenses, and employee agreements. Using the platform, users can standardize and accelerate the process, from initial request, contract authoring and creation to negotiation, approval, and storage. The company also offers the advantage to negotiate with buyers and sellers. Additionally, Ariba’s contract management not only keeps legal language updated with standard clauses and templates, but also helps in approval process that is clear and set up for audit success.

The multi-tenant SaaS integrated platform handles the contract lifecycle for all agreements, offering flexible compliance capabilities including real-time enforcement at time of requisition and improved monitoring on past spend transactions. The company’s contract management solutions also include Ariba Contract Manager Basic, Ariba Contract Manager Professional and Ariba StartContracts.
Ariba Contract Manager Basic is an effective application that enables the organizations to manage contracts of any type. It is useful for storing contacts in an electronic contract repository. For instance, in the case of contract execution, Ariba has partnered with DocuSign—an electronic signature technology and digital transaction management services provider for electronic contract execution capabilities. This cost-effective, fast, secure and user-friendly way to sign contracts, involves attaching an encoded signature to an electronic document. It includes crosschecking the identity of the signer and signifying an approval to terms. “As a result, DocuSign customers experience an average of 80 percent reduction in turnaround time, $20 average savings per document and accelerated document signing from one to two weeks to less than a day,” adds Atzberger.

In order to meet the exact requirements of the customers, Ariba Contract Manager Professional provides the robust functionality of Ariba Contract Manager Basic, including Contract Authoring. The entire contract creation process is streamlined by contract templates, along with a clause library. Additionally, Ariba StartContracts delivers an electronic contracts repository with notifications and alerts at a better rate for smaller organizations.

Enabling the Networked Enterprise

Being focused on controlling the creation of contracts and servers as a repository for contract information, Ariba formed a new era of B2B collaboration. In mid 2012, SAP—the largest market of enterprise-applications software, entered into an agreement that its subsidiary, SAP America would acquire Ariba. Combining Ariba’s successful buyer-seller collaboration, the company delivers innovative connected solutions that enable unparalleled collaboration and business performance within and between enterprises. “Our cloud applications and business networks, combined with SAP’s global scale and reach, empower companies of all sizes to take complete advantage of the cloud,” he added.

According to a research in Spend Matters PRO 2012, “Ariba and SAP individually have solid, but not best-of-breed capability in contract management.” The partnership provides varying levels of authoring/drafting capability, while Ariba is more focused on delivering flexible authoring environment that enables technical and organizational integration and collaboration.

Over the years, the company has worked with several clients across the globe in various industries like automotive, banking, business services, healthcare, media, retail, amongst others. The company has helped the customers maximize their cost savings and time, through improved strategic sourcing and contract management technology.

We offer a robust set of configurable workflows that lets customers handle their contract types and clients can manage and search their contracts electronically in one place

In an interesting case study, The Ohio State University (OSU) Medical Center—one of the largest and the most diverse academic medical centers in the country—required a quicker, more streamlined, and less stagnant bid posting process. Buyers wasted immense time providing tech support and there were significant number of papers due to multiple copies and shipping costs.
The client had no central repository for contracts between the OSU Medical Center and the university. The customer also needed to track contract expiration dates and install notification features for the same.In order to solve this challenge, the customer implemented the Ariba Contract Management Solution which helped the client create a contract repository with notification of expiration and made plans to build contract documents directly in the tool. As a result, the client experienced increased collaboration and visibility between the medical center and university at large. The customer now has over 1000 contracts currently in shared central repository and has the ability to track when a contract needs to be approved.

"Our cloud applications and business networks, combined with SAP's global scale and reach, empower companies of all sizes to take complete advantage of the cloud"

Ariba sharpens its competitive advantage by saving customer’s time and money with the innovative array of Ariba solutions. For instance, an emerging forerunner in the business equipment and suppliers—Next Day Plus has increased electronic orders and user compliance significantly through direst e-mail campaigns and online marketing. The client uses Ariba’s solution to obtain more qualified leads and boost its competitive edge in the market. The company provides customers with the opportunity to better manage their buying process, decreasing spend and accelerating speed and efficiency. As a result, the client experienced diverse e-procurement capabilities that enable customers to process orders with high accuracy and compliance.

Ariba’s solutions also resulted in more qualified leads and conversions with modern online marketing tools.

A Refined End-user Experience

Constantly striving to excel, Ariba’s product and services roadmap is ever evolving. This includes improved business cloud services, refined user experience features and the use of increasingly intelligent networks. The company is also keen on providing targeted features including improvising demand aggregation for procurement applications, outsourcing contract management applications and upgrading catalog-searching capabilities.

The company is also working on novel features with 371 early access customers, and is encouraging other companies to participate. Moving forward, Ariba aims to focus on having more flexibility when adopting new features. “We also plan to open up network APIs in an effort to improve the on boarding experience. The APIs will enable partners to ‘plug their capabilities into the network and offer them to the community in a self-service manner’,” Atzberger asserts.

To add on to Ariba’s portfolio of services and solutions, the company will also be introducing a “google-like” search experience for the buyers, in the next few months.


Sunnyvale, CA

Alex Atzberger, President

A business commerce network helping companies extend their business commerce processes.