Ariba Supplier Network Alternatives: Oracle (Part 3)

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2 of this post..

How does the Oracle Supplier Network stack up in the field compared to Ariba and others? Spend Matters spoke to one active OSN user, focused on PO transmission to less than ten vendors. Overall, this company suggested that "they're happy with the OSN experience" although the introduction of new "vendors is a project" that requires substantial involvement from IT, suppliers and business stakeholders. It is important to note that this company is not using Oracle's supplier network partner, Transcepta, to streamline the supplier enablement process. For each supplier, this company has found that it can take up to 30 days from project start to full enablement/deployment. The various elements include mapping POs and other document types (as required) to supplier data requirements. The entire process is "not simple like trading partner registration" and amounts to an almost EDI-like one-to-one integration effort in certain cases.

The company notes that they only "have 6-7 volume vendors in their system because the on-boarding isn't easy." They suggest you first need to understand "whether or not the supplier can support the OSN technology and then you have to set up an entire process which involves data mapping, testing, etc." Despite the initial integration and on-boarding challenges associated with each supplier, this company has observed a number of benefits from the OSN, including the ability to dispatch POs and other documents in real-time. This organization dispatches 100-200 POs per day on a real-time basis.

The organization has also found that it is able to integrate the OSN and its other Oracle systems with a third-party invoicing tool that then transfers information back into Oracle. The transactional information exchange process is relatively straightforward. A user creates a requisition, a PO is created (before, or the user buys off of the PO) and it is then transmitted via the OSN to the suppliers which are connected in real-time to the customer's environment through the OSN.

For matching, when the company gets the invoice back, they "have an agreement with the supplier to include the PO number" which enables validation and the ability to match the invoice to PO line items (e.g., unit price, amount, quantity, etc). If everything matches up, then the workflow automatically proceeds to payables. If not, it is marked as an exception "and dealt with manually." Overall, this company has found the OSN a "major improvement over legacy options."

Spend Matters' analysis of the OSN suggests that the incremental value it can bring to Oracle and Peoplesoft procurement users is material. And you can't beat the price: it's free. But even free comes at a cost -- the expense and hassle of long deployment and enablement cycles for suppliers. Spend Matters recommends that Oracle customers consider the OSN for high-volume suppliers, but that they leverage partner Transcepta for broader supplier connectivity. Our research also suggests that OSN users may wish to consider Transcepta when it comes to enabling larger suppliers that will leverage just the OSN for transactional information exchange as well.

At this point in time, Spend Matters cannot recommend the OSN as a replacement for the Ariba ASN for Ariba customers. However, Ariba customers considering migrating to Oracle EBS/iProcurement or Peoplesoft SRM may find the combination of the OSN and Transcepta may help to smooth the transition away from the many benefits the Ariba ASN provides.

Jason Busch

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