Ariba Inc has announced the latest version of its enterprise spend management suite of applications which brings all-round functionality improvements as well as introducing a new element – category management.
Ariba Category Management is a sourcing application that supports direct interaction between sourcing professionals and the broad sourcing network by connecting them to sourcing processes, suppliers and each other in order to improve sourcing visibility, resource and process management, and knowledge sharing.
A key element is the ability to capture, structure and manage enterprise-wide information centrally and make it available via the desktop to all stakeholders in the sourcing process who are typically widely dispersed and can include finance, engineering, purchasing and manufacturing professionals, as well as suppliers and third parties.
Ariba has made improvements to all core modules in the suite, but key aspects of Ariba Enterprise Sourcing include the ability to create and manage multi-level groups of bill of materials and upload them via integration with Excel.
Buyers will be able to evaluate suppliers on a total cost basis which is designed to make it easier for buyers to assess and compare different supplier scenarios; category team members will be able to rank and analyze suppliers and send and receive updates to all stakeholders; and improved integration with Excel will enable buyers to automatically create an RFX from Excel and to assemble responses and manage price lists in Excel before uploading to the sourcing application. The new version of the suite should be available at the end of the year, and Category Management is scheduled for general availability in March 2003.
In conjunction with IBM Corp, the Sunnyvale, California-based spend management company also announced a series of five packaged enterprise spend management solutions. By providing targeted, packaged solutions consisting of Ariba software and IBM hardware, middleware and database technology the companies are hoping to entice buyers to invest in the area of spend management by dangling the promise of a rapid ROI.
The Spend Management Advantage solutions include: Spend Management Strategic Advantage to help organizations design a spend management strategy and delivery plan; Spend Management Buying Advantage, to aid the identification of compliance to contract issues and direct spending to preferred suppliers; Spend Management Sourcing Advantage, for help with the evaluation of near term sourcing opportunities and sourcing best practice; Spend Management Performance Advantage to identify and address change management issues and opportunities for continuous improvements; and Spend Management Infrastructure Advantage, which aims to deliver a reliable infrastructure.
Although the spend management strategy is relatively new to Ariba – it was announced in May 2002 – there are signs that it is starting to pay off as the year-end loss for the company narrowed by 75% despite a 49% fall in revenue, while the IBM partnership should improve its viability.