SAP S/4HANA Embedded TM - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Author's Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness to cover S/4 HANA 1809 release.

With the release of S/4HANA 1709 SAP customers have been able to run SAP Transportation Management functionality on the same instance as their ERP solution.  S/4HANA 1809 release has made the embedded TM option even more appealing, by closing most of the functional gaps that S4/HANA 1709 release had with the AnyDB stack TM release 9.5+. The embedded TM option certainly looks very appealing, as it reduces the complexity of several interfaces and data duplication.  However, the embedded SAP TM alternative has its limitations that are important to understand and take into consideration.

We have compiled a number of frequently asked questions and answers in regard to embedded TM offering in SAP S/4HANA and published them for your reference below.  Please note that the information provided below is accurate as of the writing of this post (August 2019) and relates to S/4HANA version 1809.

SAP Transportation Management - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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.

BRFplus - a hidden gem within your SAP system

No matter how much one tries to minimize customization in an SAP system some volume of custom business logic is usually unavoidable.  Historically this meant introducing custom ABAP syntax in various user-exists, enhancements, BAdI's and custom programs.  Given the complex and interdependent nature of an SAP system, it becomes imperative to carefully manage such ABAP-based customization in order to ensure that business logic is in sync across various functional areas and is not duplicated.  That's where SAP Business Rules Framework Plus (BRFplus) comes into play - a fairly new piece of functionality from SAP that makes it possible to manage all of your custom business logic in a single place and in a re-usable way.

Baby, You Can Drive My Car (SAPPHIRE News from BestXperts)

You know that Beatles' song, Drive My Car?

Sure, on the surface it's about one person's dream of fame - but at heart it's about taking risks.

You can go ahead and hit the road with your vision - and maybe a driver - but you don't have to get bogged down by planning every step before you even start.

Explore the theme of getting started, paired with some reasonable risk-taking, by joining two SAPPHIRE presentations by Anton Karnaukhov and our client, Woodgrain Millworks.

Feature planning in an agile SAP implementation

In one of our previous posts we talked about the core roles and basic team structure in an agile SAP implementation.  We are now ready to take a look at one of the first steps in planning the implementation and assessing the work that will need to be done by each team - defining the project features. 

A feature (aka epic or epic story) is the next level down from the overall project in that a single project contains one or more features. There is no black and white rule on what makes up a feature but here are some guiding principles that we try to utilize:

SAP Transportation Management 9: Early to the Party!

The BestXperts team appreciated the challenge from Woodgrain Millwork to not only guide them through a full rework of their Distribution processes and systems but to make the very new SAP Transportation Management (TM) 9 the hub of that solution. After months of site visits, planning and design sessions, coaching of the Woodgrain IT team and, of course, lots of configuration and development work, the new solutions had a successful go-live on June 3, 2013!

Agile Terminology for SAP Project Teams

We don't need to tell anyone who is used to working with SAP that getting the terminology right is often a daunting task.  Agile project management brings with it a number of new terms that are critical to understand in order to be able to comprehend any of the detailed discussions on how agile can help you implement SAP solutions in a better way. These terms are by no means universal, but at BestXperts we do try to use the terminology that is most common in the agile circles, regardless if we are talking about SAP implementation projects or building a web application.

Team Structure in Agile SAP Implementation Projects

One of the first things that each software implementation project has to worry about is the general structure of the project team.  We at BestXperts have tried a few different variations of project team composition over the years and can definitely attest to the fact that there is no canned project team setup that will work on every project.

Things you SHOULDN'T do in an agile SAP implementation

It's one thing to have the desire to implement SAP software in an agile way, envisioning the benefits of significantly lower cost and much happier end-users.  It is a whole other thing to actually make it happen, resisting the constant desire to fall back to the old waterfall ways of doing things.  And have no doubt, that desire will be there for quite some time, like a juicy carrot on a stick - if only we could map the entire project in a Gantt chart, if only we could put a deadline on every task no matter how far out that task is, if only we could achieve precise estimates on anything and everything and compare them to actual time spent, then and only then we can take control of the project, determine exact go-live date and keep our executive management properly informed.  Falling into this type of thinking in an agile project is very simple.  Having the understanding, discipline and commitment to the core principles of agile throughout the entire project is often very difficult.

Do Tools Matter?

In a meeting last week, we got into a debate about the value of tools in an organization. Specifically, we were discussing the merits of our chosen IT demand management software and Agile Project Management tool and whether or not they can be credited with the increase in productivity that our group has achieved over the past few months. During this debate, the following statement was blurted out:

Tools don't matter.

Running SAP projects - the path from waterfall to agile

We at BestXperts did not adopt agile project management overnight. In fact, it took us years to come up with an approach that was both repeatable and scalable. At first we dispensed with the idea of massive upfront blueprinting and instead began to have many mini-cycles of blueprinting, realization and testing throughout the project. In the process, we started structuring our project schedules around “sprints” and conducting daily standups to facilitate active communication within project teams.

ERP for the modern age

Don't get me wrong, we at BestXperts are diehard SAP fans. After all, we earn our living by implementing SAP software. But there are times when we just can't stop ranting about SAP idiosyncrasies that drive us crazy. Most of these rants boil down to one common trend - SAP is unnecessarily difficult. Some of this stems from the fact that SAP has turned into a behemoth with a number of large acquisitions in the last 5 years which seems to have impacted SAP's ability to execute quickly and with acceptable level of quality. Other times we get really frustrated with SAP's "enterprisy" approach to such things as mobility and web services which feel very bloated when compared with the modern technologies and approaches used in those areas in the consumer space.

So we decided to do what we do best - dream a little. What would an ERP system look like if it was built today, in 2012, making use of the current trends and technological advancements in the software development space?