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This blog talks about how we can control the Approval process of Ariba from SAP ECC.


Blog covers areas such as:

  • Approval Process in Ariba.

  • Components of Approval process.

  • Steps required to create customize look up files.

  • Advantages

  • Limitations

  • Lessons Learnt



What is Approval Process?

The Approval Process is a process to determine approvers based on set of approval rules or conditions maintained in the system. Example for such approvable documents in Ariba Procurement Solution are:

  • Requisition

  • Receipt

  • Supplier Data

  • Invoice

SAP Ariba Procurement solutions include a set of default approval processes. But you can also customize the default approval processes for your site.

SAP Ariba Procurement solutions use configurable approval rules to specify the approvals that are required for specific requests and documents.

Configurable approval rules provide browser-based management in all aspects of approval process creation and deployment. For each type of approvable document (also referred to as an approvable), you can build a flow diagram of approval rules, defining the conditions and actions for each rule. You can then test the approval process by previewing approval flows generated for selected test approvable as well.


Below diagram, shows the Approval process in Ariba .


  What are the components of an Approval Process in Ariba?

1.Conditions - Conditions determine the circumstances in which the Ariba solution applies an action to an approval rule.

2.A node - Specifies an approver (user, group, or approver list) that is informed of the progress of the approvable.

3.Approver lookup files - As the name says, it is a look up file that match the approvers based on certain conditions. Approval look up table is a .CSV file with a file format .

An approver lookup table rule is executed once for every unique value in the matching field and therefore can add more than one approver to the approval flow. SAP Ariba Procurement solutions include several approver lookup tables that we can use. Approver lookup tables add approvers automatically based on the specific field values on the approvable documents.

One can also create custom approver lookup tables either manually or through customized programs .


Sample Approval flow Process:

Here we explain, how can we customize the approver lookup tables from an ERP system (Example SAPECC OR S4HANA) so that the approvers that are maintained in ERP system, act as an approver for an approvable document in Ariba.


This example demonstrates Purchase Requisition Approvals. Most of the organization, approvals are based on the accounting elements (i.e., Cost Center, WBS, Internal Order). Master data extraction program is used to load the active cost elements to Ariba. Custom programs are used to generate an approval file for the related Cost objects & determines the relevant approver user ID based on various rules specified in the program. This custom program generates the .CSV file in AL11 directory and loads the file to Ariba using direct connectivity.

File format for the lookup files related to an approval node is determined by the conditions and fields in the Approval node.

Below is the detailed explanation of the steps required for creating and automating look up files in Ariba .

  • Master Data extraction program.

  • Customization program to create LOOKUP files.

  • Uploading File to Ariba using direct connectivity.

  • File Format in Ariba.

  • Lessons learnt.


Step 1 – The first step is to load the “Active” Cost objects to Ariba procurement solution (Master data Extraction Program).

Extract “Active” cost objects (CC/WBS/IO) against which the approval files are to be generated based on Ariba standard master data extract program “ARBCIG_MASTER_DATA_EXPORT”.

Using Master data extraction program, load the Cost Objects to Ariba Procurement Solution.

Step 2. Use a custom program to generate the .CSV file in AL11 directory. File format for the approval node is determined by the conditions/fields in the Approval node .

The .CSV files needs to be generated against each  Cost object (CO/WBS/IO) based on the approval flow design in Ariba in AL11 folders and are to be sent to Ariba approval node.

For any LOOKUP file columns “Required” and   “Tooltip” is essential. Instead of hardcoding those fields can be kept in the custom table  and can be extracted to .CSV file .

Limits is applicable to Approvers and optional to Watcher nodes. Those also can be kept in .CSV file from the custom table as below .

Example on how tool tip can be maintained in Custom table .

Please ensure the naming convention is strictly adhered to as this ensures that the files are correctly picked up & integrated to the corresponding approval node when files are sent from ECC to Ariba CIG.

In most cases file name will be used as an event to trigger to load data to Ariba Buying .

Step 3. UPLOAD all the extracted data to the Buyer using Direct Connectivity .

Use the function module ARBCIG_DIRECT_CONNECT  in the custom program to upload the file to Ariba .

The function module ARBCIG_DIRECT_CONNECT zips all the files extracted and posts to the Buyer URL .The Buyer will invoke a batch input event and upload all the data.

Step 4. The .CSV files needs to be generated in ECC is determined by Ariba Approval node. Based on the columns that you would like to place in Ariba, the custom program generates the .CSV file.

Example :

Below are the columns that will be used in the condition that will be trigger the Cost center Watcher approval node .

Columns in Ariba for the below example are:




So the Lookup File will be in the below format .Custom program in ABAP can be used to generate the .CSV file in the below format .

Lessons Learnt:

  • Ensure you get a confirmation of the mandatory fields in Ariba which may not be mandatory in ECC hence always check if the extracted file from ECC got successfully updated in Ariba with the same number of records.

  • If the extracted data load is huge, it may cause your SAP screen to freeze so better run as a batch job.

  • When you run the batch job check user’s authorization as the user would need to have some specific authorization which involves accessing a local directory, creating a folder and placing the file in it.

  • Ensure the approval rules are working correctly for creation as well as changes.

  • Ensure the users who have left the org are removed from the SAP system and data in SAP is up to date.

  • Check the Approval look up files before loading the data to Ariba System.


1.As this process can be automated it nullifies the manual work on look up files.

2.Reduce Human errors

3.Minimise the data corrections in Ariba

4.Saves time and effort

5.Master data can be in a maintained in unified way in ERP system and any change in master data can bring changes to Ariba look up files which indeed change the approval process.



  • Look up files can’t be same for each node .

  • You can't edit the data in an approver lookup table in the user interface.

  • The new, configurable approval processes and approval rules are not available in printed form.