Ariba Supplier Network Alternatives: SciQuest (Part 2)

See the first part of this post here.

When it comes to supplier connectivity, SciQuest's core strength around supplier enablement is certainly its ability to manage industry/supplier specific catalog content. They do not currently offer a solution that extends beyond a supplier portal for managing general supplier details (e.g., names, banking details, automated checks, etc.). For this type of general supplier profile information, SciQuest suggests this data is "typically owned by and resides in the customer's ERP system" and they would then provide a link [to it].

In term of the exchange of transactional information, SciQuest users can send/receive all relevant P2P documentation like purchase orders, advanced ship notifications and invoices in both cXML and EDI formats. They also support connectivity via fax and e-mail for POs. For invoice exchange and approval, suppliers can submit an invoice via the SciQuest portal by flipping a PO or by loading/creating a flat-file with multiple invoices for batch dispatch. SciQuest captures all of the relevant materials and transaction documentation exhaust in a single location that can be viewed/analyzed by both buyers and suppliers (in supplier cases, this happens through the supplier portal itself).

From a transactional purchasing and A/P self-service perspective, SciQuest enables buyers to check on the status of invoices that suppliers submit (provided the user has the right permissions/controls). For matching, they supports both two-way and three-way matching approaches with thresholds that companies can determine by "line and/or header and by percentage and/or dollar amount." Specifically, "These thresholds can be configured by the customer at the organization level or at the supplier level." SciQuest designed its approach with the granularity to help define matching criteria on an individual supplier basis. For discounting, SciQuest's solution supports basic payment term discounts (i.e., "the payment terms on the invoice that the supplier sends to SciQuest will be captured in the invoicing solution") but it's up to the "customer's discretion" to capture the discount.

SciQuest has experience integrating with a range of transactional and third party eProcurement solutions including SAP, Oracle and Ariba. In cases where Ariba deployments exist, SciQuest customers primarily leverage their capabilities to support catalog management and existing supplier connectivity within the SciQuest network. Spend Matters hypothesis is that dual uses of Ariba/SciQuest is not at all driven by an attempt to lower connectivity costs with Ariba, but rather the industry specific experience and supplier network/content SciQuest brings. However, SciQuest told Spend Matters that while "many customers have an end-to-end procurement solution that integrates SciQuest's supplier network/connectivity solution with third party ERPs (SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Ariba, etc.) ... Ariba customers who have initially sought us out to manage their catalogs are now evaluating SciQuest for our full source-to-settle, procure-to-pay, solution."

Stay tuned for further Spend Matters analysis of SciQuest's network capabilities as well as our findings from talking with current SciQuest customers.

Jason Busch

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