What’s in a name? SAP S/4HANA Transportation Management
SAP S/4HANA Transportation Management (or S/4HANA TM) was first released over five years ago in September 2017 as part of the S/4HANA 1709 release. Yet there still seems to be some confusion out there about what exactly S/4HANA Transportation Management is and how it can be deployed. You may hear some refer to the solution as “embedded TM”, which leads many people to believe that they can’t implement S/4HANA TM until the rest of their organization has deployed S/4HANA ERP (either greenfield or migrated from ECC). To be very clear, there is no product named ‘embedded TM’. S/4HANA TM can be deployed embedded in and S/4HANA ERP environment or it can be deployed standalone. S/4HANA TM can integrate with S/4 ERP, ECC or legacy ERP or combinations of the three, even when it is deployed embedded in an S/4HANA ERP environment.
When S/4HANA TM is deployed embedded in an S/4HANA ERP environment a key benefit is that TM can share the master data thus eliminating the need for synchronizing and maintaining this information. Likewise, when S/4HANA TM is embedded there is no need to define the integration between the ERP and TM for transactional data such as orders, status updates and feeds to accounting because the solutions are in the same database.
Another benefit of the relationship between S/4HANA Transportation Management and S/4HANA ERP is that the basic transportation functionality available as part of the S/4HANA ERP leverages the Transportation Management infrastructure. So, companies that have basic transportation requirements when they first implement S/4HANA ERP can start to get familiar with the basic transportation processes. As their business grows more complex and they require more advanced transportation functionality from a full Transportation Management System, or TMS, they don’t need to implement a completely new solution that has a different look and feel and a completely independent architecture. In S/4HANA they just license the advanced functionality and turn it on in their existing S/4HANA environment. They are already familiar with the concepts of the solution as well as the look and feel thereby accelerating adoption.
In more recent releases another unique benefit has been added that will be of particular interest to companies that use both SAP S/4HANA Transportation Management (TM) and SAP S/4HANA Extended Warehouse Management (EWM). The new functionality is called Advanced Shipping and Receiving, or ASR. ASR is a new way to integrate EWM and TM. Currently ASR is only available to customers that have deployed TM and EWM and S/4HANA ERP in a single instance but there are plans on the roadmap to accommodate standalone deployments. The benefit of ASR is that there is no data replication between TM and EWM – both solutions work off the same freight order record. Thus, there is no data redundancy and data are harmonized across the organization. There is also some common user experience between the warehouse and transportation as well.
For some organizations, S/4HANA Transportation Management is the leading solution in their S/4HANA transformation. By deploying S/4HANA TM first, they can start with a smaller scope and learn about the new platform as the rest of the organization prepares for the transformation. For others the driver for adopting S/4HANA TM first is to address their transportation requirements and achieve cost savings and/or production savings that can help fund later S/4HANA projects. In either case, if your organization is considering a deployment of S/4HANA Transportation Management you have multiple options to choose from that will fit your business and your S/4HANA journey.