Has the ERP-world finally come down to this . . . An Ariba For Dummies?!

Posted on November 16, 2010


“How’s your business’s commerce health? Need some improving? Businesses must tap flexible solutions that enable them to access the resources they need as they need them to collaborate more efficiently and effectively with their trading partners. This little book helps you assess your business commerce health and then introduces a new approach to making things better.”

I wish that I could say that the above is a tongue-in-cheek lampooning of an organization whose brand has been somewhat maligned by an unenviable track record in terms of successful implementations.  After all, wouldn’t the calamitous exploits of a company who as it’s CFO put it during a 2009 interview, gone through a cultural DNA transformation only to emerge on the other side as a different dog with the same fleas, warrant a quick-fix guide for itself and its clients?

Sad to say, this is not a lampoon nor is it the product of the sarcastic musings of a creative mind, but is instead the self-inflicted over-simplification of the problems that have plagued the industry for many, many years.

Now I must tell you right up front, that I have just now downloaded the Ariba for Dummies book as I will call it, and promise to write a follow-up piece as to the merits of its contents in relation to the reality of the market, including the trail of failed Ariba initiatives.

What I can tell you is that as a self-professed Coles Notes if you will – in the About This Book section the authors readily admit that a “comprehensive book on commerce could easily fill hundreds of pages,” this text promises to provide the reader with the finer points of how to go about:

  • Saving 2 to 12 percent when you’re buying goods and services
  • Drive sales and increase revenue 5 to 32 percent
  • Realize 15 to 75 percent process savings when your managing cash

Given the most recent OECM failure I cannot help but wonder if this is in reality a do as I say and not as I do dissertation that is based more on the capitalization of a well-known brand (The Dummies Series of books), which is representative of a new and admittedly creative twist on the old brochure or white paper concept.  In fact, when you access the download page to obtain this gem there is a loose reference to a white paper.

All this being said, the real problem with Ariba releasing a condensed “How To” booklet is that before you can reduce success down into a few succinct and effective pages (51 pages in this instance), you have to have delivered the actual results to warrant such a compression.  The absence of such a track record would be similar to me writing my first book “Your Show Will Go Live in 5 Seconds,” about hosting your own Internet radio show without ever having actually gone on the air.  When it comes to Ariba, said results are indeed far and few between.

Given the paucity of tangible and substantive positive outcomes, an Ariba For Dummies book is more of a marketing ploy than an actual instruction guideline.  It is also a little sad in that it minimizes the real work that goes into implementing a successful program, while in the process (and probably quite unintentionally) deflecting the blame for past failures towards the end-user.

As for the “Dummies” series of books, I sure hope that they have been paid handsomely for cheapening their winning brand.  You are after all known by the company you keep.


Posted in: Commentary