In February 2020, Keelvar’s Sourcing Optimizer Connector became available for online purchase on the SAP App Center, heralding an exciting opportunity for sourcing teams that rely on the SAP Ariba Sourcing solution to leverage our best-of-breed sourcing tool to deliver powerful sourcing-optimization capabilities for large or complex sourcing events. Since then, a number of customers have gone live with this integration.
As a result of the integration between the two systems, customers of SAP Ariba who are looking to add the benefits of AI-powered automation to their complex sourcing projects can turn to Keelvar to run, analyze and award events in Sourcing Optimizer, then send awarded supplier data back to SAP Ariba Contracts. To date, Keelvar’s platform is the only one on the market that directly integrates with SAP Ariba.
To demonstrate how SAP Ariba customers can complement their sourcing processes using Keelvar’s optimization and automation solutions, a webinar hosted by SAP Ariba and Keelvar featuring a presentation from Keelvar’s Founder and CEO, Alan Holland, took place in June 2020.
Here are some of the top takeaways from it:
Large, Complex Events Get Optimization Help
Keelvar’s foundation product, Sourcing Optimizer, is suitable for all spend categories and scalable from spot bids to large-sized events, but is most often used by our customers to optimize their largest and most complex projects: conducting RFI, multistage RFQs, e-auctions and analyzing trade-offs that would otherwise require the time and focus of an expert sourcing professional.
“When you're looking at cost and non-cost objectives -- how much it costs you to have fewer suppliers, more suppliers or switch from incumbents -- all of that scenario analysis requires an advanced solver to churn through the combinations and unlock efficiencies,” explained Mr. Holland. “But one difficulty for many enterprises is finding people who are well versed and comfortable with advanced sourcing.”
Bots Can Become Your Advanced Sourcing Co-Worker
To meet the need of organizations looking to improve the quality and efficiency of their sourcing events, Keelvar built Intelligent Sourcing Bots that behave as expert co-workers in specific categories. “For example, an ocean freight sourcing bot is an expert in using advanced sourcing in the ocean freight category, and likewise for air freight,” said Mr. Holland.
To let the bot know when it is required, Keelvar triggers a bot to get to work when internal customers are searching for something they can't find, or if a contracted rate isn’t available.
The addition of intelligent automation solutions to a sourcing teams’ toolkit also benefits talent retention, explained Mr. Holland: “Often, your team could be interrupted by ad hoc requests that require considerable time and attention, even though the spend volume might be very small… You're more likely to retain talented personnel if you have sourcing bots to do that work for you because automation helps your people steer clear of the mundane and dissatisfying work that can be associated with routine, small scale, but urgent bid events.”
SAP+Keelvar Handles Spectrum of Large, Strategic Events to Automation of Spot Bidding
Customers use Keelvar’s automation solution to improve the quality and efficiency of events and identify optimal award scenarios, but not every sourcing process can -- or should -- be automated.
For example, large, infrequent sourcing projects require relationship building and trust, and those projects benefit from sourcing optimization where users of Sourcing Optimizer can run events manually and have conversations with suppliers before, during, and afterwards.
But for buying events where there's much higher frequency, much lower spend per event and it's more tactical than strategic, efficiency is key. This is where Keelvar’s intelligent automation bots -- which can handle up to 90% of an event's tactical workload -- come in.
SAP Ariba & Keelvar Represent a Powerful Partnership
As a specialist sourcing software provider, Keelvar provides great depth of sourcing technology, while SAP Ariba provides unrivaled breadth in its procurement software products. This makes for a “powerful combination”, Mr Holland explained, one where SAP Ariba customers can benefit from an integration that allows them to push data seamlessly to Keelvar to run a sourcing event, and then push the results back to SAP.
The Keelvar Sourcing Optimizer Connector works by pulling item master data and suppliers from SAP Ariba Sourcing into Keelvar. Buyers can trigger the desired sourcing event in SAP Ariba and then send it to Keelvar where they conduct the event creation, bid collection, bid optimization, and award scenario analysis.
The SAP Ariba/Keelvar integration flow is template driven, and has been set up so that in certain categories that are a target for optimization -- such as transportation or packaging -- Ariba customers can use templates to push API sourcing events initiated in SAP Ariba to Keelvar’s Sourcing Optimizer. Once the event is run, analyzed and awarded in Keelvar, the award data is sent to SAP Ariba Contracting for downstream processing.
“It’s a very powerful partnership that will help Ariba customers,” concluded Mr. Holland.