Guided Buying Tactical Sourcing Innovations Update
One of our most popular capabilities in SAP Procurement is our tactical sourcing (or self-service request for quote) process in guided buying. Over the past few years, we’ve made some great improvements and I wanted to take a moment to bring these all together in a blog post for easy reference.
To quickly recap, the tactical sourcing process is a way for a casual user to request quotes from suppliers in guided buying, where policies defined by your business determine the level of procurement involvement in the process. For a long time, this was a single line item form tied to a single commodity code. Suppliers could be qualified or preferred within SAP Ariba Supplier Management to display on the form to ensure the requester is selecting suppliers Procurement have deemed suitable for the nature of the request.
To get into the technical details, these requests have historically been routed through the SAP Business Network before creating an event in SAP Ariba Sourcing using a cXML flow and configured end points. This approach had some limitations and held us back from adopting more sourcing capability in the guided buying process.
In 2020 we set about laying the groundwork to re-baseline the tactical sourcing process to drive future innovation.
GB-7383: Support for Multiple-Line RFQs
The first key innovation to evolve tactical sourcing was multi-line RFQ, available from November 2020 (2011 release). A new method of creating RFQ tiles was established, and the policy capability was greatly enhanced.
A header form could be used to aid users in creating their request and drive policy configuration based on internal fields and rules.
Mandatory and optional items assigned to different commodities could be added to a request, including images and descriptions.
A new supplier selection screen was added to make selection easier, ranking suppliers based on their preferred and qualified status suitability based on the commodity codes included in the request.
GB-12919: Improved Bid Display with Support for Alternate Bids and Supplier-Added Items
In August 2021 (2108) the first phase of API based integration and new capability for multi-line RFQ usage was released. PARAM_ENABLE_ENHANCED_RFQ_INTEGRATION parameter was made available.
If you set this parameter to true, guided buying communicates with SAP Ariba Sourcing through API rather than cXML. If you use new-style RFQs exclusively, guided buying no longer uses the cXML channel or the guided buying endpoint.
We could start to adopt sourcing capability that had existed for some time, alternate bids and supplier added items. In a high touch RFQ scenario, if multiple suppliers were awarded in sourcing, the requisition could be created to reflect the supplier assignment for the corresponding line items.
The new bid display made reviewing/awarding a sourcing event with multiple line items in guided buying much more user friendly and accessible. The bids could also be exported to excel for easy comparison without compromising the user-friendly user experience.
Policies were also updated to allow messages and direction to requesters during the accept quote phase.
GB-15541: Ability to Change RFQs After Publishing to Suppliers
In November 2021 (2111) the continuation of the api based flow evolution introduced the ability to edit an RFQ post submission.
PARAM_ENABLE_EDIT_RFQ was implemented with the following enhancements:
- Users can save draft RFQs in Composing status and resume editing later, which is useful for requests that require substantial research or user input.
- After submitting RFQs, users can click a new Duplicate button, which copies the original RFQ information into a new RFQ and sets the new RFQ to Composing state.
- The Policy management page was improved to allow administrators to easily select multiple policy names for export or deletion and changes were made to enhance the policy file.
- Self-service flows can also be changed after the submission if within the scope of the policy. If the changes trigger a new policy tier (such as low touch) then system provides option to either discard the new changes or continue. When continued the system automatically cancels the previous request and creates a new with all the data in draft mode.
This also made setup and troubleshooting so much easier for administrators, helping them avoid creation of multiple requests while testing.
Extending Tactical Sourcing
We’ve continued to evolve this capability with several features, including incorporation of risk and diversity status to help your business users make informed purchasing and supplier selection choices.
Here’s a roundup of the features and commonly requested capability you can utilise to expand your tactical sourcing solution:
- GB-9376: Support for Team RFQs
- About Alternative Bidding
- Hide the estimated price from suppliers in a guided buying RFQ event
- Fields to Use in Policy Configuration
- SM-25931: Supplier Classification Based on Diversity
- GB-9570: Support for Supplier Diversity Information in Non-Catalog Purchases
- GB-9516: Support for Third Supplier Qualification Dimension
- GB-9926: Supplier Risk in Guided Buying
- Adding Expiration Date and Reusability Fields
Into 2024 we are looking to expand the tactical sourcing process, specifically looking at the award to requisition process, further enhancements to bid analysis and guided sourcing touchpoints and full project flows.
Important here also, is the migration for our existing customers to adopt the API based flow. Due to limitations of the cXML based flow and incompatibility with the newly released features, we are working with our SAP teams and partners on how we help customers adopt these new features. We hope to deprecate the cXML based flow in 2024.
You will find below a video below that we have released to show how to easy it is to create a multi-line RFQ form tile using existing or new forms.
We’ll be producing more content on this capability soon, but here are some past videos which outline how multi-line form based tactical sourcing can be adopted:
I know how important for customers to have their say in our product direction and their experience with our products day to day. I work closely with our Product Managers to review and respond to influence requests in our guided buying campaign.
Influence requests for requirements specific to tactical sourcing can be tagged with “RFQ”. This helps us filter the relevant requests when planning new capability for the solution. You can also use this filter to find existing requests to add your votes for capability important to you.
Thanks for reading this (very long) blog and I hope that the content here will consolidate the key documents to start you on your journey to multi-line RFQ and the API based capability.