Ariba Supplier Network Alternatives: Ketera/Rearden (Part 3)

This post is part of a Spend Matters series looking at Ariba Supplier Network alternatives. We will cover each Ariba supplier network alternative beginning with each provider's basic background in the area and then their solution approach and Ariba/third party systems integration. Finally, we will provide our own summary and analysis of the provider's overall capabilities. Please click the following links for the initial posts in the series: Part 1 and Part 2.

Ketera realizes that a one-size-fits-all approach is not always sufficient for the supplier on-boarding process. In their own words, companies should engineer in flexibility when on-boarding suppliers into P2P systems when it comes to gathering custom data including user-defined fields, custom forms, etc. -- data which will ultimately link with the standard information (e.g., contact details, banking information, TIN number) for inclusion in any many-to-many supplier network environment. In Ketera's case, soliciting this information often begins with an e-mail outreach to suppliers in the name of the buying organization. From a process standpoint, the "Ketera Network organization sends the e-mail, and has the ability to track receipt, open rates, click-throughs, etc." Such an approach, which follows on the model that Aravo originally pioneered to get suppliers on the Ariba supplier network in an earlier instantiation of its business model, has two goals, according to Ketera. The first is to let the supplier know that it is the buyer who needs the information. And second, to provide a "quick click way" to get to a form to provide the information.

Ketera has learned that these e-mail outreaches typically generate predictable response rates. The "first e-mail will get a 10-20% open rate." From that, some percentage will fill out the form. Following on, "for suppliers who open but do not click, the Ketera Network can automatically send a follow-up e-mail. For suppliers who do not open, a different follow-up will be sent." Ketera manages this program on behalf of network users. In customer-directed cases, Ketera may add phone outreach to suppliers as part of an organized follow-up.

Here, Ketera cautions that procurement organizations limit phone follow-ups to a subset of suppliers. Specifically, users should "identify a subset of 'key' suppliers for whom they absolutely need accurate and complete information." The phone call then serves the purpose of driving suppliers directly to the site to fill out profile and related information requests or lets them provide information directly to the Ketera outreach team.

From a connectivity perspective, Ketera's Network document exchange capability allows buyers who generate orders in other systems to pass transactional information electronically to a network of suppliers system to system. Ketera also notes that the integration also works in the other direction to take information from a supplier's system to pass back into the buyer system. Supported document types include: price changes to outline agreements, POs, PO Acknowledgements, ASNs, and invoices. Ketera notes that "For suppliers capable of system to system exchange, we use cXML as the method to transmit the document types, then re-format any type to flow back into the buyer system."

When it comes to matching, Ketera's Network supports both 2-way and 3-way matching for invoice validation, reconciliation, and approval. Specific methodology recommendations are made on a customer-by-customer basis. For invoice validation, Ketera offers:

  • Standard Validations: Use preconfigured, standard validations that get triggered at the time of 2-way or 3-way matching. These checks include check for unknown buyer, unknown supplier, invalid PO number and duplicate invoice
  • Custom Validations: Add custom validations to be invoked them at the time of 2-way or 3-way matching. Some of these custom validations include check for allowing/disallowing invoice against closed purchase orders, missing purchase order line number, UOM mismatch and invalid part number
  • Automatic Rejection: Use the option to automatically reject invoices that fail validation and automatically notify suppliers about validation failures

For invoice reconciliation and approval, Ketera offers the following options:

  • Invoice Matching: Choose to match invoices either as 2-way matching (Invoice and PO) or 3-way matching (Invoice, PO and Goods Receipt) and apply defaults for the type of matching at the supplier level. Alternatively match invoices manually or initiate a force match process
  • Tolerance Limits: Specify tolerance limits on unit price, order quantity, receipt quantity at the line item level at the time of matching
  • E-mail Notifications: Send automated e-mail notifications to buyers and suppliers when the automated or manual matching fails due to standard or custom validations or due to price or quantity mismatch
  • Automatic Invoice Approval: Choose to set up automatic approvals for specific suppliers
  • Optional Workflows: Route invoices through additional approval after the invoices have gone through auto or manual matching. These workflows can be configured for each supplier

Stay tuned as we continue our analysis of Ketera's supplier network capabilities in a series of two concluding posts in the coming weeks.

- Jason Busch

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