SAP has made a very good decision on building a product for managing transportation. SAP Transportation Management (TM) 7.0 is proving to be a very flexible and powerful tool. Many business scenarios are supported by the system, and not only for a transportation service provider. Also for a shipper the product can be a very good solution for subcontracting transportation needs. Although the product is starting to grow mature, there are still some functions that are not supported by this solution. Here there are listed a few.
The ferry scenario
The transportation network in TM is build up out of lanes combined with a means of transport. When a lane is created it is determined that a certain means of transport can travel between two locations. In the ferry scenario this is missing certain functionalities. To give an example. A ferry travels from Hoek van Holland to Harwich. A truck has to transport goods from the Netherlands to the UK. For this the truck uses the ferry to get to the UK. The ferry is a scheduled resource and in planning this should be accounted for. TM is lacking functionality at the moment to make this scenario work properly.
Contract management in TM
When making agreements with TSP’s this is stated in contracts. Unfortunately a contract is not determined as a business object in TM. So it is not possible to have an overview of the contracts and have conditions linked to them. Prices can be managed in Freight Agreements, but there is no clear overview. When a contract has a quantity base it can only manually be checked on how much has been ordered on that contract. Therefore it would be nice to have contracts as a separate business object.
Transportation network queries in NWBC
Netweaver Business Client (NWBC) is a very nice portal from a user point of view. The way queries can be made and personalized is very useful. In one screen you can get all the Shipment Requests that are relevant. This is very useful for managing the workload. Unfortunately these queries are not available concerning the transportation network. It would be very useful when there was a query for transportation lanes. In one screen you could get all the transportation lanes that are to be maintained, or are maintained, or are missing. This would make master data management much easier.
Integrating Business Partners
SAP TM uses Business Partners functionality for maintaining the business relations. This is a very powerful tool and has great functionalities for maintaining this part of master data. This part of the software is also available in the ERP system. Also in ERP Business Partners can be maintained. Although there are slight differences, overall the functionality is almost the same. Unfortunately it is not possible to make a direct integration between ERP and TM concerning these Business Partners. The CIF interface only supports integration of customers and vendors. Why not make a direct link from the Business Partners in ERP to the Business Partners in TM? This should make the integration of the two systems easier.