SAP Transportation Management - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Author's Note: This post was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness to cover SAP TM 9.3 release.

We decided to compile and share a list of question about SAP Transportation Management (TM) that we hear most frequently from companies that are interested in learning more about SAP TM.  A lot of these questions are fairly basic and high-level, so this FAQ will be most helpful to people who have limited knowledge of SAP Transportation Management capabilities and requirements.

What is SAP Transportation Management?

SAP TM is a best-in-class Transportation Management System designed to manage all aspects of transportation processes within your company, including transportation planning and optimization, freight tendering and charge management.  SAP TM covers the full range of modes of transport (air, ocean, rail and road) and is designed for both Shippers and Logistics Service Providers.

Is SAP Transportation Management a module within SAP ERP or a stand-alone system?

SAP Transportation Management is a stand-alone system.  Typically, it is installed on a new set of servers for development, QA and production environments, separate from SAP ERP.  SAP TM is tightly integrated with SAP ERP SD, MM, WM and FICO modules.

During the 2016 Sapphire/ASUG conference, SAP has announced a roadmap to unify a number of SCM-based applications, including SAP TM, and roll them into S4 HANA.  This confirms SAP's long-term commitment to developing and enhancing SAP Transportation Management as one of it's key product offerings.

What are the SAP ERP release, Enhancement Pack and Support Pack requirements for Integrating with SAP TM?

Refer to SAP note 1738013 for a complete matrix of SAP TM and SAP ERP integration requirements.  As a general guideline, SAP ERP 6 with enhancement pack 7 or greater is necessary for latest full featured integration with SAP TM.

Does SAP Transportation Management require the installation of SAP ERP?

Although the great majority of SAP TM installations are done with SAP ERP being in place, it is technically possible to utilize SAP TM in a non-SAP ERP environment.

What Is The Latest Release of SAP Transportation Management?

As of the writing of this post, SAP Transportation Management 9.3 is the latest release in general availability.  SAP TM 9.4 is currently in ramp-up.  SAP TM has gone through 6 major releases - 8.0, 8.1, 9.0, 9.1, 9.2 and 9.3.

What SAP Systems Have Integration Capabilities With SAP Transportation Management?

The following SAP systems integrate with SAP TM out-of-the-box:

  • SAP ERP / ECC
  • SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • SAP Extended Warehouse Management (EWM)
  • SAP Event Management (EM)
  • SAP Process Integration / Process Orchestration (PI / PO)

How is SAP Transportation Management different from the SAP ERP Logistics Execution Transportation solution (LE-TRA)?

In general, SAP Transportation Management contains all of the functionality of SAP ERP LE-TRA plus many additional features, such as comprehensive transportation zone and lane management, freight tendering, collaboration portal, transportation and route optimization, and much more.  SAP TM is truly a best-in-class Transportation Management System offering specialized functionality for all major modes of transport built on top of very flexible and extendable technical platform.

Is SAP Process Integration (PI) Necessary for SAP Transportation Management implementation?

Do you already use SAP Process Integration (or Process Orchestration) in your SAP landscape? If so, it is a good idea to use SAP PI for integration between SAP ERP and SAP TM as well.  If not, then most of integration between SAP TM and SAP ERP can be accomplished via point-to-point web services (WSRM), basically connecting the two systems directly, avoiding the use of SAP PI.  The one major exception to this rule is the integration of SAP TM freight orders with shipment documents in SAP ERP, which currently can only be accomplished through SAP PI.  You might need such shipment integration if you utilize SAP ERP Warehouse Management and rely on shipment documents to perform some of the warehousing processes, such as loading.

Does SAP Transportation Management come bundled with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) capabilities?

SAP TM does not have extensive GIS capabilities built in.  Typically, SAP TM is integrated with 3rd party GIS solutions for geo-coding, geo-routing (distance and duration determination) and visual map display.  SAP TM supports integration with all major GIS providers, including ALK's PC Miler, Rand McNally and HERE (formerly known as NAVTEQ).  Most GIS solutions do require additional software licensing for productive use, but it is typically a fairly small amount compared to the SAP TM software licensing fees.

Does SAP Transportation Management require the use of SAP Event Management?

No.  SAP Event Management (EM) can optionally be used in tandem with SAP Transportation Management to capture and expose detailed information around expected and actual events (for example, planned vs. actual arrival time at a stop).  Plenty of SAP TM implementations are done without the use of SAP EM.

Does SAP Transportation Management have load planning capabilities?

Yes.  Comprehensive load planning was introduced in release 9.1 of SAP Transportation Management. Here is a great article with sample screenshots describing SAP TM load planning capabilities.

Is There a way to Provide External Carriers With Access to SAP Transportation Management Information and transactions?

Certainly.  One of the great new features of SAP Transportation Management 9.1 is Collaboration Portal, which allows external partners (such as carriers) to access relevant SAP TM data and transactions via an externally facing web portal.  Here is a great document with sample screenshots describing the Collaboration Portal functionality.

What kind of reporting and analytics capabilities does SAP Transportation Management have?

SAP TM relies on SAP BI platform to deliver reporting and analytics.  As with many other SAP products, SAP customers have access to standard SAP Business Warehouse content for SAP TM that provides out-of-the-box extractors, data providers and queries.  This standard content is often enhanced as part of the SAP TM implementation project in order to fulfill each customer's unique reporting requirements.

Does SAP Transportation Management support optimized routing and last mile planning?

Absolutely!  This scenario often comes up in truck-based private fleet implementations, especially the ones that have to deal with multi-stop scenarios.  SAP TM comes bundled with a powerful route optimizer solution that utilizes a large number of configurable soft and hard constraints.  The use of the optimizer enables automated building of cost-effective freight orders (aka shipments/loads), taking into consideration such parameters as accurate transit distance and duration, plant/customer/vendor operating hours, loading and unloading durations, duty and drive time scheduling constraints, as well as many others.  Optimizer can be used in a fully automated manner, where freight orders are created periodically via a background job, or in an interactive manner where a transportation planner is presented with a proposed optimized solution and can then make adjustments to freight orders prior to saving.

Does SAP TM support transportation planning of power units (aka tractors), trailers and drivers for private fleet?

Yes.  SAP Transportation Management has supported detailed planning of trailers since 9.0 release via the use of optional Trailer Unit documents.  Trailer Units enable the modeling of complex trailer scenarios such as drop-and-hook and trailer swap, but they do introduce an additional document into the transportation planning process, so careful consideration has to be given to whether the additional transactional complexity is justified by the enhanced planning capabilities. When introduced, the Trailer Unit document becomes responsible for tracking the movement of the trailer, whereas the Freight Order document is responsible for tracking the movement of the power unit and driver(s).

As of release 9.3 support pack 3 SAP TM supports the planning and assignment of driver(s) to freight orders.  You can find more detailed information on this functionality at the following SAP Help link.

What is a typical duration and cost of an SAP Transportation Management implementation?

An average SAP TM implementation takes 6-12 months to complete and will cost between $800,000 and $1,500,000 in consulting fees.  SAP software licensing is also required (see the next question).  These are just general guidelines.  Actual costs vary greatly based on the scope and size of each project.

How is SAP Transportation Management licensed by SAP?

SAP Transportation Management does require additional licensing to be purchased.  It is currently based on the overall transportation spend in dollars to be managed through the SAP TM solution.  Contact your SAP account executive or Value Add Reseller (VAR) for further details.