Move! The best way forward from SAP ECC LE-TRA TO SAP S/4HANA

SAP‘s ERP with its logistics features is one of the biggest players in the solution market for transportation and warehouse management. It‘s hidden in plain sight, but even with legacy enhancements and third-party add-ons LE-TRA (Logistics Execution in SAP ECC for Transportation)was and is still the system of record for shipments, freight costing, carrier contracting and sometimes just used to create appropriate groupings of multiple deliveries and print a bill of lading.

Its close integration with SAP MM for carrier payment, COPA to allocate costs to the material on the procurement side and more, are obvious reasons, why thousands of companies are using LE-TRA and its transactions to address basic shipping and receiving needs from small companies to some of the biggest manufacturing companies across all industries, across all modes of transportation. In addition, SAP APO customers using TP/VS as the natural planning extension for LE-TRA, SAP TD (Transportation and Distribution) for oil & gas customers or because GATP and BOP (Back Order Processing) are using TP/VS planning details for backlog prioritization for orders based on efficient transportation.

SAP TM is designed to address and cover all the above and now, being embedded in S/4HANA as the new core solution for Transportation, it is certainly not just a game-changer in terms of capabilities, but also (that has to be strategically addressed) before or while, surely not after, a transformation from SAP ERP to S/4HANA companies have to deal with the significant update of the solution design and determine the best way to move their current LE-TRA or LE-WM designs to the new platform. There are two and a half ways to deal with this opportunity (not challenge).

In all cases, first, get an update on the solution‘s capabilities. Even if you consider your logistics operations as straight forward and your company only uses currently uses LE-TRA for freight costing and paperwork for shipping or you operate in an outsourced logistics model, SAP TM offers with the predefined scope named „Basic Shipping“ exactly what you are looking for.

The solution design of SAP TM has been architected and implemented in a very process and object-oriented way and you don‘t have to deal with system complexity for non-complex scenarios. But – even when implemented, you can always alter, grow and „complicate“ in a good way more advanced processes (while keeping the original scenarios as is – simple). The most simple model will require the use of two objects in TM: a so called freight order (your shipment) that will group, sequence, and operate your orders or deliveries (inbound or outbound or both !) and a settlement document, that will help you to allocate and manifest final shipment costs and get your carriers paid. No redundant master data, no internal interfaces, no batch jobs - TM is there and does the job. If your aim is, to - let‘s say jump - from SAP ERP to S/4 by not changing the current scope (please don‘t miss the opportunity to consider savings by learning about multiple ways to save costs and carbon footprint through with more advanced capabilities) – you can do that too. TM will provide your end-users with state of the art screens, better and more interactive selection options, profiles for certainly interactive and manual operations or just let it run in the background day in day out.

TM is not a process add-on any more like in the past. Where SD and MM in SAP ERP failed us to give the option with LE-TRA to handle transportation as a life cycle independent tool for logistical tasks (e.g. ocean booking before orders are even created, have a real B/L, driving e.g. picking in the warehouse based on your planned shipments, mixing inbound stock transfer orders with sales orders in one shipment (sorry freight order now) or see across locations a consistent capacity view of a truck (multi-pick and -drop) and so on, SAP TM simple does exactly that. In addition, often locally 3rd party solutions might be used or considered. As mentioned above, we suggest to instead treat those local requirements for a simple transport solution in the same straight forward way. Gather the catalog of your requirements for those satellites, that often would remain outside of our enterprise core by continuing with legacy or third party products, instead of simply reusing your SAP TM/Basic shipping or advanced shipping capabilities in your to be landscape. We can help by keeping those solutions straight forward with an adequate realization leveraging SAP TM‘s capabilities - and again - by keeping the solution straight forward too, by gaining a way more integrated and synchronized landscape in your company. Many customers are using small transportation products e.g. for inbound or local warehouse shipping or to let their logistics partners operate that piece (process steps) as substitutes. Just consider using this as an opportunity to become more efficient and gain visibility across your supply chain. Pre-defined process packages like our BEEMACS Ignite for Logistics will not lock you into a „vanilla“ process template but will give you a kick-start for innovation.

Now – if you plan your move from SAP ERP or SAP APO for that matter to SAP S/4HANA to be ready 2025 (!), there are two(.five) ways to address the process areas of significant change and opportunities. Identify the areas of concern and deconstruct your IT defined solution landscape, by translating your process/functional requirements to S/4HANA. This is true for ATP/GATP, PPDS, TP/VS, LE-WM for the most part, and LE-TRA for sure. How to move forward with those areas is mainly defined by the process, IT strategy, and change management required:

  1. You may first address those areas of concern, meaning implement in a very focused, ROI driven approach the specific process areas and dry out the „old“ transaction in ERP by ramping up – in our case here SAP TM. Get rid of custom enhancements and previously used third party solutions in one step. SAP TM, as is SAP EWM, is perfectly designed to operate in a side-car approach with one or multiple SAP ERPs, S/4HANA, and legacy ERP systems at the same time – so you stand up your first S/4HANA landscape to operate e.g. TM on that platform as the first component of your future S/4HANA, being connected (for now) to your current SAP ECC system for master data re-use and transactional integration for orders, deliveries, and finance. You certainly need to consider BW or reporting dependencies, external partners, some master data (e.g. business partners) you already have in your current setup too. But the goal of this approach is clear. Carve out the complexity of your current SAP ERP, get rid of modifications, clean up your ERP-Core to allow a more straight forward migration of your core SAP ERP, without being overwhelmed in the transformation of your digital core, because you deconstructed those components in ERP already, that require focus and a clear perspective, that should not be treated as a minor topic in bigger end to end S/4HANA transformation programs. There is also no reason to think sequentially. We have been very successful by being a front runner with clear ROI and complexity reduction by starting with SAP TM and shutting down TP/VS and LES while almost independently the S/4HANA transformation got kicked off e.g. for finance or procure to pay or sales to invoice etc.
  2. The second option is certainly, to make the LE-TRA shift an integral part of your global S/4HANA transformation. Establish a sub-project in your program and identify to be processes and integration aspects in your program and certainly TM realization. This of course, will be overall all a longer program, redefining your enterprises’ digital core end to end. But I am still proposing, to not oversimplify or disregard the need to redefine your as-is to a future state for transportation, even if we are just talking about replicating the current as-is scope. As I described above, you can start simple and grow and open logistical opportunities. If you miss the opportunity of a good design, that might impact and drive challenges in multiple areas such as finance, procurement, sales, data warehousing, carrier collaboration, and manufacturing.

Why 2.5? Mix the two! Don‘t wait to clean up your Enterprise core. If you are on the way to establish option b) we suggest to identifying based on a deconstruction model (IT Architecture) the areas where significant solution design impact has to be discussed. Learn about SAP TM embedded in SAP S/4HANA now. Do the same for Warehouse Management, AATP and Manufacturing. These are critical supply chain elements and a focused perspective on processes, requirements discussions can give you a kick start into a global S/4HANA transformation with a dedicated timeline that will/shall feed into your end to end program. Don‘t think those applications are more complex than what you operate today. It can be as clear as moving your current state to the new and very innovative best in class solutions and basic shipping or advanced shipping reflected in the two license alternatives in regards to your initial TM scope offer you alternatives.

We believe it is essential to have a dedicated expert along the way. Provide you options, offering accelerators and templates to kick-start your analysis. We from Beemacs support proof of concepts based on your own data as part of the design or before. Our BEEMACS IGNITE for SAP Logistics value packages reflect mode and scenario options and can improve your insights ahead of time. TM offers design alternatives... how do I say this... understanding/experience and creativity leveraging the powerful architecture and object-oriented design of TM, related and embedded in your solution landscape is absolutely the key for a successful, efficient transition. SAP TM is an integrated, best in class solution for logistics. It gives you the option for a dedicated value-driven transformation on your digital journey. TM is flexible and adjustable, beyond the obvious, e.g. you can use TM to optimize your complete transportation volume based on forecast information, either from IBP or Excel spreadsheets as unconstrained demand, giving you the option for better carrier booking. The scenario builder in TM can help you simulate and pick the best option to be put into operations and its integration touchpoints to finance, warehouse management, sales, and procurement at not one time interfaces but support continuous adaption. SAP GTT and SAP LBN are complementing the processes across your partner base and networks.

From my perspective - don‘t hesitate, but accelerate your investigation. Learn about SAP TM, SAP EWM now and BEEMACS IGNITE for SAP Logistics value packages in order to start your digitalization of logistics now – MOVE!




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