Aravo Tackles the Supplier Information Management Challenge (Part 1)

Perhaps it is fitting that as I get ready to leave for Ariba LIVE later today, that I’m writing about Aravo, a privately held solutions provider focused entirely on supplier information management. Even though Aravo offers more than basic supplier on-boarding capability, they're best known for helping companies get better returns from their eProcurement systems. As we all know -- and as Aberdeen's Vance Checketts investigated in a fairly recent brief -- far too few companies realize the ROI promises that their ERP or other providers made when pushing their wares because of the challenges of getting enough suppliers into and actively using the system.

Even Ariba eProcurement customers, which typically enable a larger percentage of suppliers than their ERP brethren -- at least according to Aberdeen -- can benefit from supplier information management solutions. In fact, Aravo has been involved in a significant number of Ariba implementations that I'm personally aware of (and Oracle is a huge Aravo fan from what I hear as well, even within their internal procurement function). So what is Aravo's exact role in enabling eProcurement, you ask? Despite sophisticated eProcurement systems that are adept at managing complex internal workflows, permissions and approvals, many organizations still struggle to manage external supplier information both initially and on an ongoing basis, even with the advent and rise of supplier networks like the Ariba ASN.

According to Tim Albinson, Aravo's Founder and CEO whom I spoke with earlier this year, his company still sees a very significant number of organizations with eProcurement capabilities who manage supplier information manually. For instance, a company might require a supplier to update information via a Word document or via fax which is then manually reentered or cut and pasted into an online form – without any designated workflow to manage or control the process. This form might then be routed to an approver who manually faxes another form to a supplier who then faxes it back, starting the process all over again. Then finally, the information is re-entered again and imported back into the eProcurement application by an offshore resource in India.

Aravo's approach to supplier information management changes this type of paradigm entirely by providing a structured collaborative environment for all parties. This not only reduces the time and effort to bring suppliers onboard initially, but also to update and maintain information overtime. Additionally, this helps keep supplier content and fresh and lets procurement teams tackle the supplier information management challenge by exception -- a huge advantage when dealing with thousands of suppliers across the globe. What types of results are possible? From a supplier on-boarding perspective, two of the largest state government eProcurement deployments in North America were struggling to get the thousands of suppliers that they had originally planned to onboard into the system in less than a year. Five months into the deployment, their consultants were able to average only five to six suppliers per month in a largely offline and manual on-boarding process. With Aravo, these same consultants were able to manage eighty to ninety new suppliers per month, which allowed the organizations to reach their initial goals.

Stay tuned for another post on Aravo later this week or next when I'll talk about supplier information management beyond the context of initial on-boarding. In the meantime, if you're hankering for more, I'm guessing it will only be another hour or so before a self-promoting blogger links to his story on the same provider in the comment section.

Jason Busch

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