Uber Case Study

Amid a phase of incredible growth and globalization, the supplier management solution helped to reduce friction, mitigate risk, and trim costs

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Uber was experiencing the kind of success and growth that most companies only see in their dreams. Offices were being opened in major cities around the entire globe, and new suppliers were being brought on at an incredible rate—sometimes upwards of 700 per month. The popular transportation company was looking for a supplier management solution that could evolve alongside the business. As more and more suppliers came on board, it was clear that the manual processes they relied on during onboarding and vendor management lacked the workflows and transparency that could scale. Their previous method of onboarding—outsourcing the operations to a third party—left a lot to be desired: risk evaluation, company screening, and both identity and financial verification were all missing from this solution. The company wanted a proper audit trail and oversight to ensure that the process was being done correctly and that due diligence was being paid. Further, the manual processes Uber’s teams across various regions relied on were becoming inefficient. They ran into both language barriers and human error frequently. This hurt the speed with which the company could onboard new suppliers and introduced new risks. On-time payment only happened around 40% of the time, for example, harming contract negotiations and hampering Uber’s ability to build strong relationships with suppliers. Uber sought a nimble platform that could be universally adopted across the many countries it operated in, with an easy-to-use UX and the ability to grow along with the company. As Uber expanded to multiple verticals, such as delivery, freight, and grocery, scale was top of mind.“We needed a proper vetting process and risk management program for suppliers,” said Mark Arrigotti, head of finance operations at Uber. “A tool that had powerful technology, could automate as much as possible, and that fit our company culture.”

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After evaluating over a dozen third-party risk management (TPRM) vendors, Uber selected Certa. The ease of use (thanks to millennial-friendly UX, perfect for the Uber workforce), multilingual capabilities for a globally minded company, and complete automation were exactly what the company was looking for. Certa would build a single system for suppliers to self-service in over 15 languages and be able to handle region-specific rules for tax, banking and other necessary vendor information.“ We had a team of about five people located in different parts of the world who were manually onboarding providers,” said Arrigotti. “There was no technology in place to fully integrate them and give us insight into if things were really working. There were no signals in the system to warn of potential issues—things could fall through the cracks and nobody would know until it became a bigger problem. We wanted to avoid that possibility.” Within just six weeks after the contract was signed, Uber rolled out the Certa platform. “We haven’t looked back since,” said Arrigotti. “With Certa, we’ve been able to reduce our operating costs 50% year-over-year.” Manual data entry quickly became a thing of the past. The platform had native integration with Oracle, Coupa, and the other major enterprise systems Uber used. Integration is often a pain point when introducing new technology, especially at a large scale, but Certa integrated seamlessly and let Uber’s team focus on the innovation they’re known for, rather than spending their time wrangling data between systems. The Certa platform, leveraging Amazon Web Services (AWS) also provided automated risk management features that allowed for consistent risk mitigation. Uber could easily create custom business rules in the system that would identify potential supplier risks and make taking action on them easier. Those rules can have high levels of nuance for each legal entity or country of operation—with thousands and thousands of suppliers, “one size fits all” was not an option for Uber.

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Procurement should be a function that allows businesses to get what they need better, faster, and cheaper, with a positive experience,” said Arrigotti. The Uber team sought a service that would enable their business, and with Certa, that’s what they got. Highlights of Uber’s use of the platform include: Fully automated onboarding, allowing hundreds of suppliers to join each month with little to no friction, A 50% operating cost reduction due to a leaner centralized system and the removal of now-unnecessary manual intervention steps, Transactional volume increased 10x and expanded product footprint without needing to add additional resources, Increased on-time payment rates, from 40% to 95%, Consistent compliance controls for suppliers across 70+ countries, Robust risk management features at scale, allowing for the efficient involvement of many stakeholder groups from Uber risk teams, Users empowered with an easy-to-use, highly visible, and feature-rich platform. The ease the Certa solution brought to the day-to-day processes were a key factor in its success for Arrigotti. “Certa streamlined our ability to identify, vet, and onboard suppliers to get them in our system and be able to do business with them in a meaningful, relatively quick fashion."

Looking Ahead

Uber has grown tenfold since implementing Certa five years ago, operating in over 70 countries and in 15 languages. As the company continues to grow, Certa’s platform will scale alongside it and complement its business.

“Once onboarding was figured out, we quickly pivoted into the next step of maturity: creating a risk management capability within the Certa platform,” said Arrigotti. “We now have a formal program around supplier risk management that is now reportable and auditable.”

According to Arrigotti, Uber sees many opportunities to leverage the solution in the future to drive value for the company. Looerta provides us insights into who we’re buying from that we never had at a glance before. This visibility will allow us to continuously improve our vendor relationships, highlight areas of risk, and even tackle larger, business-level concerns like ESG and sustainability that we see on the horizon.”

Uber achieves 50% reduction in costs with Certa

Amid a phase of incredible growth and globalization, the supplier management solution helped to reduce friction, mitigate risk, and trim costs