gopa-itc

GOPA IT Consultants Inc. Is Now Novigo

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Extended Services and Worldwide Presence

Novigo Extends Its Supply Chain Transformation Services to Help Customers Take Full Advantage of SAP® Supply Chain Management and SAP Transportation Management

SAN MATEO, CA–(Marketwired – Mar 3, 2014) – Effective immediately, U.S.-based GOPA IT Consultants Inc., a leading provider of services for supply chain execution and transportation management software from SAP, and its international subsidiaries in Europe and Asia, is operating as Novigo. Known for its consulting capabilities for the SAP® Transportation Management (SAP TM) application, the company is adopting the name Novigo to emphasize its expanded focus on providing innovative consulting services for the SAP Supply Chain Management (SCM) application and on further extending its global competence.

“We have evolved from a systems integrator to a leading business consultancy serving companies that use SAP solutions in their supply chain execution. We realized through various global customer engagements that it is essential for our customers to embed their SAP TM implementation projects deeper into the large context of their business initiatives for supply chain transformation. Our customers expected Novigo to provide a broader set of services, ranging from Supply Chain Transformation Management strategy to the actual implementation delivery. For this reason, we established our new Novigo Enterprise Transformation Practice and refined our delivery model to help companies extract maximum value from their investments in the SAP Supply Chain Management application,” said Joerg Rohde, Novigo’s CEO.

“Delivering sustainable quality services requires innovative process design capability and deep knowledge of SAP applications in combination with proven enterprise transformation management expertise, which we emphasize with our new company name,” Rohde added.

The name Novigo, which means “innovation” in the world language Esperanto, represents the group’s philosophy of enabling customers to achieve their supply chain objectives by using innovative technology. With the best-in-class SAP transportation management software at the core of engagements, the Novigo Delivery Model integrates and synchronizes the interwoven, sometimes complex requirements of people, processes and technology, working towards a clearly defined, harmonized and value-driven project outcome. “In the end, the job is not done when the technical system implementation is completed, but when empowered and enabled people enjoy the benefits of best-run business processes in a transformed supply chain organization,” Rohde said.

About Novigo:

Novigo is a Supply Chain Execution competence leader, with key proficiencies in services for the SAP Supply Chain Management (SAP SCM) and SAP Transportation Management (SAP TM) applications. World leading customers from various industries and Logistics Service Providers rely on Novigo for its balanced blend of industry leading supply chain execution competence, deep focus on consulting services for the SAP SCM application and international delivery capabilities. Novigo is headquartered in San Mateo, CA with offices in Germany, Spain and India.

For more information please visit: www.novigo.com

SAP and all SAP logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP AG in Germany and in several other countries. All other product and service names mentioned are the trademarks of their respective companies.

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Continuous Moves with SAP TM

Really interesting, to find these two articles from Steve Banker from ARC on Viewpoint Logistics this week. Being involved with Customers, especially in the US since 2000 continuous moves had always been one of the key areas of interest – but on the down side, I rarely saw it getting implemented as an automated function in companies. It seemed to be too dynamic, too opportunistic to become a standard business rule. Even in SAP APO TP/VS continuous move was a powerful feature, and we even introduced in SAP ERP (with ERP 4.7 ff) an enhancement to the shipment in LES (/nvtcm), which allowed users to monitor and link two or more shipments as a continuous move process. Based on the given information, you had the opportunity in TPVS to re-calculate charges for all 2 or more shipments, as if you would calculate a rate for one quite extensive load or alternatively, just consider a discount to the individual or some of the connected loads.

Steve Banker highlights in his two articles the two main scenarios, where you either could take advantage of a well structure planning cycly across your logistics network vs. (in his second article) more opportunistic opportunities, to simply recognize the chance to connect several loads and re-assign to the second move the same carrier, in order to increase his asset utilization and certainly benefit from a possibility to lower the rates in return. In SAP TM you can handle that very straight forward, as you can control which of your carriers might be open to apply continuous move discounts and therefore, it will be worth going the extra mile (effort) to introduce a continuous move opportunity analysis even multiple times a day, dependent on your dynamics in your network certainly. Without even changing or complicating the planning responsibility for regional planners, you simply might want to introduce one global role to run continuous move carrier selection in SAP TM in order to recognize opportunities.

Business rules like load incompatabilities, max distance rules between the last drop and the first pick up location of two potential shipments, time constraints etc. can be simply configured as general rules to evaluate the option on top of your current supply chain strategy in regards of carrier assignments.

A02For a customer in Italy where the truck is moving starting sunday nights from the north to the south, we realized a strategy for continuous moves, where the planners in the south would recognize during the week the equipment moving towards the south. There was certainly the need to return the equipment towards the end of the week, so the truck’s capacity was used on Wednesdays in the South and then for loads heading back north starting Wednesday nights. Continuous move in TM is integrated with charge management etc. and we utilized the distance determination service DDDS in TM to connect with www.here.com (formerly known as Navteq) to determine and calculate the empty milage between two loads (which had been taken into cost consideration as well).

A01In the attached pictures you can see the overview of the process and in addition below a screen shot of the additionally added charges for empty miles, which were only added, if the freight order in fact was part of a continuous move and empty miles had been applied.

Bernd

 

SAP Transportation Management rated as #1 by ARC

A01Good news in managing logistics. The tremendous investment into SAP’s Transportation and Execution Solutions is showing impact in the market. Besides the fact, that SAP is listed as the leading solution vendor in Supply Chains now a few years by GARTNER, also ARC is ranking in Supply Chain solutions SAP consistently as number 1 in general, with specific insights in various industry segments. Well, Supply Chain Execution has been somewhat a seperate area to dive into and we saw that in the past specialized niche vendors without significant market share had been successful in providing niche solutions to Tier 1 – Tier 3 customers across all industry segments.

In it’s recently published Global Market Research Study on Transportation Management Systems ARC (Authors: Steve Banker, Clint Reiser, Neelam Singh) rated SAP also as number 1 for Transportation Management Solutions. Interesting enough to say, that ARC raised it’s forecast for revenue opportunities for the next years even because two of the top solution vendors grew significantly faster than other (average) product vendors in the solution market, SAP being the leading provider now. These are significant signals, since it shows the dynamics in the solution space and the demand growing for strong end to end solutions in transportation management, especially in the Tier 1 segment.

In the past, even SAP customers had been looking for functionality being provided by niche vendors or best of breed suppliers in that space. That is changing drastically. SAP’s solution strategy is three (plus one) fold:

1 – Offer a highly integrated, scenario driven solution for the classical enterprise functions like Sales, Distribution/Replenishment and Procurement addressing enhanced process support, higher flexibility without actually having the need to re-implement current ERP based processes. That promise from SAP is so strong – it sometimes can even become a thread from a business process re-engineering perspective, regarding innovation via software implementation projects, since it sometimes seems to be too simply, to just stay where you are today (as is), instead of challenging existing responsibilities and execution principles when it comes to change in general (to be).

2 – Offer an open, well-connected networking solution for logistics and transportation management. In SAP TM, information exchange and collaboration is purely based on open web services, following SAP’s Enterprise Service Repository (ESR) concept, in publishing and generalizing “interfaces” beyond traditional data exchange. The service architecture is always bi-directional, expecting not just only a technical confirmation, but – like you would expect in a good conversation with your business partner – expecting a response with added value.. (“can you do the shipment for me?” – “oh yes, I will bring you these containers….”)

3 – last, but not least verticalization. This has different aspects, and for sure it is the industry focus, most companies would look at immidiatelly. Looking at SAP’s references in the logistics industries (global forwarding, ocean liner business, regional logistics and carrier services) is high-lighting again the solution’s capabilties, not just to process ERP-driven requirements out of the box, but in fact operate global logistics operations, much more focusing on logistical activities, than only on sales orders or deliveries. Besides that, the more than 20 years of experience in shipping and receiving goods through supply chains in Consumer goods, Retail, Automotive and Chemicals, just to name a few, shows how deep the process design has been driven to provide a really sustainable platform.

4 – Finally, not to ignore, as it is always the key element for any solution decision: how deep is the functional depth of it’s individual components!? Financial aspects, optimization capabilities on routing, scheduling, loading, prices, carrier constraints, visibility in execution, cost distribution across multiple deliveries/orders, sales org being consolidated in one container, truck load or sub-contracted shipments are key requirements, where SAP has great examples already active and running productively.

A02So it is even more important to analyse and design future state scenarios before looking at the product details. To define the future state means to manage a lot of change from a process, user and education perspective, all the way from implementation to go live and is a critical success factor to measure the success of an implementation project. But all of that needs to be directly related to the key business drivers and aligned with the companies vision for logistics.

What we get analyzed by ARC’s team is a great source of detailed market insights and comparison on where niche vendors work, compete and how far the mentioned areas are addressed by SAP out of the box. The growth of SAP in that space shows the positive and strong investment by SAP to target all these goals, with a continued strong roadmap for the upcoming years. I am already interested what beyond the current TM 9.0 will come in the upcoming release TM 9.1 this fall, as it will address all 4 segments again.

We will see deeper and more sophisticated scenarios for order management and procurement, sophisticated features in planning and load design and more details from a financial and contract management perspective. Already at ASUG SAP presented again an updated roadmap of the overall supply chain execution solution, showing Contract Procurement, Parcel details, Dock Appointment Scheduling collaboration capabilities and a heavy investment into Rail needs for shippers and for logistics service providers. I like what I’ve been told by one expert on the SAP team: “Best of breed? SAP is best of breed!”

Congratulations SAP team!

Bernd

Hours of Service Challenge – how to design compliant routes

Driver Constraints in TMThere is another aspect to consider, when designing and implementing transportation solutions. Any time, when you want to automate business knowledge, simplified said, experience, one could over-do configuration and rules pretty easily.

Everytime, introducing another powerful application in the SAP Business Suite, that is one of the challenges the design team and the solution architects have to face. Like 2000, when SAP launched it’s powerful gATP (global available to promise) as one central component in SAP APO, in the first release of APO 1.1, the maintenance of rules, access sequences, business events etc. consisted of more then 10 tables you had to maintain, link (and understand) one after the other. With later releases an “integrated rule maintenance” had been introduced, which made life much easier. Then, the real thread was, to not overload the complexity of rules, but from my perspective, start simple and grow over time.

Same thing with BRF+ now in SAP TM. It is really powerful and we have great success in using it in productive projects to easily model in TM really complicated, local and global Routing Guides of customer and supplier routing contracts and services in all modes of transport. (you might want to browse in our blog history to eventually learn more about BRF+ what e.g. Samir posted a few months ago). What I think, one of the strengths of SAP TM is certainly the powerful architecture and the straight forward integration of the latest development frameworks and toolsets, like BRF+ is easily connected in TM via Conditions, FPM (floor plan manager) is integrated in TM via the FBI with the Back end technology with BOPF etc.

So coming back to the routing questions, we did it using BRF+, but as Thorsten pointed out in his blog yesterday, even with the movement types and default routes, there are powerful rule and condition driven features in SAP TM, which give you a powerful framework to model out of the box a routing guide, to process those shipments in your supply chain which can be processed for whatever reason directly. Examples for that for sure also for shippers could be FTL, LTL (if you have the contracts in place for that), FCL or Express, Parcel etc. Now, if you want to rate shop through your different options you may want to include here then DSO to browse through your carrier rates in real time with SAP TM. Not enough? Then connect also in realtime with SMC3’s Zarlite business logic to check your carrier’s best rates online.

Still, in Europe as well as in the US, especially if you not only operate your own fleet, but also work with dedicated fleets of your Logistics Service Providers and Carriers, there is certainly the legal implication of being a responsible shipper. Quote from an owner of a logistics company in Germany: “As a planner or owner of a logistics company or running a logistics department, you are always with one foot in jail, considering the legal responsibility you have even for a driver, you don’t know, because you have to deal with his driver times”. Looking to Europe and especially Germany, where electronic driver cards are recording breaks, stops and working hours for several weeks, you need to inherit in your planning and consolidation design during implementation changes from a legal and hours of service regulation perspective.

Having pending updates on the hours of service regulations in the US is important to be considered during implementations. I found this following article on logistics-management you may find interesting in this context. HOS driving trucking rates increases, carriers say. In TM certainly hours of service are also supported at a means of transport level, which surely helps to build consistent rates and allow adjustments considering the longer breaks according to DOT regulations. You would need to use planning constraints for that (and as Bernd Dittrich highlighted before, there is information in the TM documentation)

 

How to use the movement type in the Forwarding Order

In an intermodal transportation scenario you can have different challenges, requests and variations how to move cargo from A to B.

Intermodal_Transport

As a logistic service provider (LSP) you are always interested in an end-to-end shipment with your customer. In this case the LSP has the most flexibility to route the cargo in the most efficient way through his transportation network.

To specify which route the cargo will take and which carrier will be used, could be specified at the Actual Route of the Forwarding Order. At the tab “Stages” you are able to specify the route of your transport. The stages can be classified as specific stage types which indicate the respective transportation leg.

When you think about an end-to-end shipment, you will always have a pick-up leg which you will use to get the cargo into the LSP’s network. In addition, you will have a main-leg, which represents the main carriage for example from country to country (or from continent to continent). At the end, there is the delivery leg to deliver the cargo to the final consignee. Most LSP’s call this end-to-end scenario a Door-to-Door shipment and can be specified as Movement type in SAP TM. Besides the incoterm, the movement type also indicates the responsibility of the LSP in a more generic way. The Movement type could for example be used in a quotation process or within a global valid contract with a large customer, where the incoterm would be to detail to that time.

If the LSP executes the transport in collaboration with another LSP the Movement type and responsibility will be adjusted based on the legs he is responsible for. This means, he could be responsible for the pick-up leg and the main-carriage or just for the main-carriage and the delivery leg. In this case the movement type would be Door-to-Port/Airport or Port/Airport-to-Door with respectively two stages.

How could you benefit from using the movement type in SAP Transportation Management?

To use a movement type you need first to define and name it. Based on the movement type you will be able to specify the sequence of the stages per movement type. This will be used to specify how many stages would be available and allowed in the “Stages” tab of the Forwarding Order in the Actual Route. You are able to specify how often a stage can be used and which stages are optional (can occur in any number) or mandatory (must occur at least once). All stage types you have specified for a movement type are available but not all of them have to be displayed at the first glance. To control which stages will be visible after maintaining the movement type immediately, you need to mark the flag for “Stage Proposal” and the stage will be automatically be generated in the actual route as you select the movement type in the Forwarding Order or Forwarding Quotation.

In the below screenshot you can see the customizing for a movement type which specifies a Door-to-Door movement. A Port/Airport-to-Door movement could have a subset of the stages.

Stage_Type_Sequence_Movement_Type

In case a customer will pick-up or deliver the cargo himself to the respective location you are able to specify this as a separate stage type in the customizing. This stage type would not be relevant for planning and would be used to enable end-to-end visibility to immediately indicate the situation per shipment. The below screenshot shows a Door-to-Port/Airport movement type with the option to select a self pick-up stage.

In addition you are able to specify which determination rule will be applied to determine if a stage is plannable or not and which rule set can be used to create Internal Settlement documents.

Stage_Type_Sequence_Movement_Type_Self_Pickup

When you create the FWO and maintain the movement type “DD” on the tab “General Data” the Actual Route would initially have three stages based on the stage proposal (see the screenshot below)

Movement_Type_FWO_Stage_view

The stages types could be:

01 – Pick-up
02 – Pre-carriage
03 – Main leg
04 – On-carriage
05 – Delivery leg

For every stage type you are able to specify which Transportation Mode is allowed.

You are able to delete stages or to add stages. Please be aware only stages which are specified in your movement type customizing will be available.

Once you have created your Forwarding Order and you like to change the movement type on the “General Data” tab from “DD” to “DP” like in our example this will be easily possible as long as no Freight Units are created. The amount and setup of stages will be determined while you change the movement type.

Once the Freight Units are created and the stage information are passed on as Freight Unit stages the system will raise an error message when you change the movement type. The reason is that the changes would have an impact on your planning process. Therefore a manual change of stages is required.

Hopefully this little article on how to use and setup movement types will help you to successfully use this feature. It will help you to determine a pre-selection on stages whilst creating the Forwarding Order much faster and in a much flexible way.

So what are you actually doing with my phone?

It is always interesting, what happens during a busy workday. Yesterday, when I left the office, I realized, that my cell phone was missing. That might be even a good thing sometimes, but meanwhile, my cellphone is not just handling my phone calls, but it also pays for my coffee, reminds me of upcoming meetings, helps me to manage my bank account and and and.. So you could say I am dependent, I would say, it is really helpful. Now, I went back to my office and short search for the device was not successful. Having not set up any “find my cell” services, I decided to call my self – and – I picked up and answered. I did not understand a name, but the guy gave me his address. Asking him, why he is using my phone, he seemed to be confused as well..”I don’t know why I have your phone, I found it in my car..” Sure! I went there and surprise, it was one of the lawyers in our office and surely enough, every black mobile with a glass front looks the same. So simple transaction and I got lucky – I found my cell.

From a logistics perspective, it certainly was interesting, since it “responded” and I was easily getting my hands around the issue. Tracking has several aspects these days from my perspective. One, it is certainly the tracking of a physical entitity. That would include specific events you’d expect to happen, so you may monitor expected actions to happen or others, you don’t expect to be included in a standardized process. Secondly, it is also about tracking and monitoring the information around an object or process item like a sales order in execution e.g. temperature, on-time performance, but also thirdly geographical information related to that. Also introduced with the 9.0 releases of SAP TM and SAP EM it is now possible to track also the progress of instructions of Standard Operating Procedures you might have standardized in your company around a shipping process. And last, but not least, tracking of phrases, tags or information itself, so information tracking and monitoring, like buzzwords or hashtags with twitter e.g. If you want to have a sharp description of that, you might want to follow up on Gartner’s Homepage Glossary, which also highlights, related information around the topic.

Better visibility related to the progress of instructions, defined in Standard Operating Procedures with SAP EM 9.0

Besides the basic idea of tracking events or tracing items, there is a very key aspect behind it: Tracking and Monitoring provides us very specific information on our key assetts and business processes. There is a real opportunity to utilize that information more actively, not only for planned vs. actual data, but in executing e.g. the delivery of goods, providing equipment, we can identify patterns, combinations of individual events, which will help us to clearly identify costly and valuable activities or “situations” in our supply chains, that could open up opportunities for chargable services. A very simple example of this is related to one of the more expensive things in transportation, like demurrage or detention. E.g. a recognized arrival of a container at the delivery location, plus a confirmed completion of unloading the cargo, in combination with a missing reported departure at the location, is a pattern, which clearly triggers a payment from your carrier, if you exceed your contractually included on-site time. Without having that information captured, it is very costly to react on the failure in invoice verification as your carrier will provide you his invoice and requesting the details, then also a tracking report etc. Especially in rail, but also ocean for example, there is a real opportunity to improve the effeciency and automation in accessorials being processed, and as most service providers in that space will be able to provide either via EDI or now e.g with the new SAP Transport Notification and Status Mobile App, which provides in real time your logistical details to your drivers or carriers, and at the same time, establishes a real time reporting gateway back to business processes, supported in SAP TM.

With the new releases of SAP TM 9.0 and SAP EM 9.0 (watch this recording from SAP on EM 9.0 online) there is a strong foundation available to not only track items, plan shipments but establish together with the mobile applications, considering SAP Information Interchange as a strong catalyst for better communication with your business partners in logistics, an enterprise solution e.g. for Accessorial Management. That solution will simply leverage event information being collected during execution to actually allow to automatically add charge lines in your carrier freight settlement process, not as planned charge items, but as recognized and cost relevant information triggering charges. We see this currently in two projects we are implementing SAP TM and EM, on the Shipper side and at the Logistics Service Provider side as well. We will certainly recognize these charges as well with analytical solutions like SAP BI, Business Objects, but even real time reporting, based on transactional data in within SAP TM in the business context viewer will allow to provide ad-hoc reporting on more aggregated information to the business users.

Now, I need to find my way back to my cell phone… As I said, thinking holistically, SAP Event Management 9.0 supporting now tracking of item details in SAP TM (for Bookings, Freight Orders and Freight Units) out of the box, it provides enough details, for better aggregated insights, e.g. on time performance, container or railcar on-site tracking, status reports for order items, that allows to establish a broader supply chain execution strategy including certainly transportation planning, execution, tendering, costing, but now also e.g. more detailed insights on supporting services and status feedback in real time.

We see in projects SAP Event Management to become a default requirement for implementations, just like Charge Management, Tendering etc.. Mobile, for years being standard in the industry, will change to become a commodity aspect for implementations and it will increase the real time interactivity and quality in execution, just because it will be seamlessly supported.

Geographical representation of Events with Visual Business and SAP EM 9.0

Geographical representation of Events with Visual Business and SAP EM 9.0

I am glad I have my phone back. And I certainly could have used the device-locator service as well to tell me the actual location of my phone. Similar to that, now SAP EM is also providing the capability to report geo coordinates with every event, which can be leveraged to be displayed on Maps (using Visual Business, similar to what TM does) and that brings another quality of integrated processing to the table.

If you are interested in learning more about SAP EM, SAP TM and mobile, please send me an email. Maybe we can showcase in a prototype what would be possible for your company.

So – what are you actually doing with your phone?

Bernd

SAP Event Management 9.0: Still secrets to uncover in Supply Chains

As SAP EM 9.0 is expected to exit any day (or should we say jump out of..) ramp up, it is time to recognize, that from a solution perspective SAP EM and SAP TM are supporting an inherit desire and need for logistical, financial and physical visibility in supply chains. As SAP shapes it’s solution offering (from a left behind product centric approach) along the lines of networked and collaborative solutions, including Business Suite Solutions, Cloud solutions like SAP Information Interchange (SAP II) and now with ARIBA a real service and B2B network, in addition also Mobile extensions, there is an existing opportunity to establish a connected, collaborative strategy in modern supply chains and specifically in logistics and transportation.

The real value of an investment is certainly then showing direct impact, when the business benefits are directly related to requirements on the business side and these are related to a product feature or solution approach. From a communication perspective the value add, introducing integrated processing combining not only a transportation management solution, addition a visibility layer, but also leveraging existing communication platforms like SAP’s ARIBA business platform and especially SAP Information Interchange, you introduce and address the critical success factor in supply chain execution, which is from my perspective communication and therefore the ability, the enabler to collaborate.

Process Example of collaborative information networks for Ocean Shipping with SAP solutions

Process Example of collaborative information networks for Ocean Shipping with SAP solutions

Often, driven by individual implementation aspects, this is seen in relation to single transaction effeciency, savings or improved productivity. As SAP EM 9.0 is out of the box connected and integrated with TM 9.0, and it feeds out of the box, not only execution information to TM, also Business Analytics immidiately shows better information on carrier on time performance, it helps to capture event information to influence accessorial costs like detention or demurrage and at the same time, not really recognogized in the first place, it gives us feedback on geographical information, that is directly linked to freight and product details of orders sitting in SAP TM.

Stock in transit visibility, reported with SAP Business Objects

Reading that sentence one more time, we should recognize that we have insights on stock and inventory in transit, material quantities that are qualified as currently in loading, unloading, in customs, moving in a truck or ocean vessel and we do get direct information on process and procurement costs, all based on TM requirement data, combined with event management process information.

Not only in High Tech, Chemicals or Paper Industries, this is valueable information residing in one single source, which is as current as your status updates are reported back to SAP EM. In this release, you can now also monitor easily items in freight units and freight orders/bookings, which could be on container level or in fact also product items, specific as freight or order requirements.

Coming back to business drivers and benefits, this offers not only as an obvious benefit individual transactional transparency (order visibility), but using tools to visualize then e.g. aggregated material or process information for materials, product groups and container data e.g. sitting in customs, in the port or currently being reported as arrived, but not yet unloaded, that will give you details on stock in transit even on material level.

Well, instead of checking in MD04 somewhat blindly stock in transit inventory, SAP TM, together with SAP EM now allows e.g. by using either BI or Business Objects to monitor and qualify hidden inventory moving inbound to a production site, or also all stock transfers currently moving between locations.
SAP Event Management 9.0 offers the foundation for real time processing and aggregated reporting on item level, which will add another layer in supply chain processing.

Don’t get lost in details, but see what’s going on. Drafting not only functional aspects like planning scenarios in Proof of Concepts, but related process feedback such as tracking details back to related freight orders, does the job, to high light cost-process dependencies for e.g. stock in transit very easily. But you have to go the extra mile. Introducing aggregated perspectives on transactional data, translates all that hidden detail into information. With SAP Event Management 9.0 you get the details, so let’s take a look.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Bernd

GOPA ITC at SAPinsider SCM2013 Mar. 4-7

Come see us at the Logistics and Supply Chain Management 2013 conference in las Vegas, NV, Mar. 4-7. We will be exhibiting out latest SAP SCM consulting services in Booth 855 and handing out our 2012 White Paper “Generate Instant Value with SAP TM – while transforming your transportation organization” along with the 2013 SAP TM 9.0 Solution update insert.

Our VP of SAP SCM Innovation, Bernd Mosbrucker, and VP of SCM Practice, Bjorn Bernard, will hold two sessions during the conference:

  • Mar. 4 @ 2.00pm: Pre-conference workshop “A comprehensive guide to transportation management functionality, deployment and migration options, and optimization strategies”. This session will not only help you to evaluate and choose the right transportation management solution for your organization, but will also offer lessons learned from early adopters. For more information on this workshop, click here.
  • Mar. 7 @ 3.30pm: Panel Discussion with GOPA ITC’s current customer Canadian Pacific titled “Leading experts offer advice for designing a transportation management solution”

This ninth annual collaboration of SAP and SAPinsider is an excellent opportunity for all professionals who use, evaluate, deploy, and support SAP® SCM solutions. We hope to see you there!

 

 

Global Logistics – Where’s the Leading Edge?

Our VP of SAP SCM Practice, Bjorn Bernard, was part of an interview in the Broadcast Center at SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid titled Global Logistics – Where’s the Leading Edge.
Interview Focus: Sourcing and distribution networks have become increasingly complex as companies of all sizes strive to serve more customers across more geographies. Businesses must manage logistics networks that span third-party logistics, company-owned warehouses, distribution centers, corporate fleets, and transportation partners spread across the globe.
Watch Bjorn Bernard’s interview in the Broadcast Center at SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid here and learn about overcoming logistical challenges.

Duration: 30 min

GOPA ITC at SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid Nov. 13-16, 2012

GOPA ITC will be attending SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid in Spain held from Nov. 13-16, 2012. We will be talking about our latest SAP Transportation Management consulting services and initiatives, as well as taking part in various events such as Round Table discussions and Micro Forums throughout the conference.

Our VP of SAP SCM Practice, Bjorn Bernard, will be part of an interview in the Broadcast Center (located in the heart of the show floor) titled “Global Logistics – Where’s the Edge”. Interview Focus: Sourcing and distributing networks have become increasingly important and increasingly complex, as companies strive to serve more customers in more geographies.  This is true for companies of all sizes who must manage a logistics network that spans 3PLs, corporate fleets, and transportation partners spread across geographies.  As these companies strive to make the world a smaller place, where is the leading edge and how can a company use its strategy to get ahead?

Join this LIVE broadcast where leading SAP customers and partners will share their insights about how they’re achieving outstanding results. It is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 4pm (Central European Time) and will be anchored by a professional TV presenter and broadcast in real-time in front of a live studio audience of approximately 250 customers, partners, and media. It will air live at http://www.sapphirenowsapteched.com and will also be available for on-demand replays through various social media channels. For a full program overview of the Broadcast Center Experience, please click here: http://www.sapphirenowsapteched.com/sapphirenow/pdfs/SAP_ProgramGuide_8.pdf

GOPA ITC’s SAP TM customer Panalon will also participate in this special live Broadcast. We hope to see you at SAPPHIRE NOW in Madrid!

 

 

BRFplus: Business Rules Processing in SAP TM

Referring to a recent blog post (Is MS Excel driving your Transportation and Logistics processes?) on GOPA ITC’s SAP Transportation Management (TM) projects that make use of BRFplus, this blog posting aims to provide a glimpse into the world of business rules. Certainly more technical than other blog postings, the reader will get an understanding how SAP allows TM customers and partners alike to expand the TM usage to a high degree via a standard rules framework.

BRFplus (Business Rules Framework plus) is a powerful ABAP based Rules Engine, which is used in many SAP (including ECC, CRM) and other custom applications. It has been integrated into SAP TM and works its magic under the shadow of the more popular “conditions”. Conditions in SAP TM use BRFplus as its origin to process such business rules. As a result, BRFplus has brought the ABAP code world to the end user and empowers them to process complex business rules via an intuitive User Interface (BRFplus Workbench) – at the same time it reduces the need for IT organizations to develop, customize and configure on top of the standard delivered SAP content.

A Condition based Origin

When a condition is created in TM, the data access definitions form the context data (elements) that are passed into BRFplus for rules processing (in simple terms the ‘Input’). The origin of the condition describes the type of “function” that will be created in BRFplus. BRFplus relevant condition origins are: “Condition based on BRFplus Expression” or “Condition based on BRFplus Decision Table”. Conditions created using either of the two origin types will create a corresponding BRFplus application and its corresponding function type, which can further be used to model complex business rules. For the advanced reader, it is important to understand that BRFplus dynamically creates ABAP coding at runtime, which is also described as ‘Generated Code’.

A condition based on BRFplus Decision Table origin type is the most simple and widely used condition in SAP TM. When created, this condition creates a decision table in BRFplus that processes simple “IF…THEN” statements for every row of data. Data access definitions form the “IF”(context data) part of the decision table and the result data object identified when the condition type is created forms the “THEN” (result of the decision table row). A simple business scenario could be the following: IF ‘ERP-SD Shipping Condition’ EQUALS ‘Express’ THEN result IS a carrier type ‘Parcel Carrier’.

A Condition based on BRFplus Expression is a more generic form of a BRFplus application. It creates a “free-style” BRFplus application that only has the data access definitions passed into it and can then be used to model all the business rules. The Expressions type of condition is used to create a BRFplus application that enables the processing of multiple decision tables within rules/rule sets as opposed to a Decision Table based BRFplus application where only one decision table can be used to process the entire logic.

Via the process controller (the standard SAP TM way to call Planning Methods or Heuristics), a standard strategy can be used to make a call to BRFplus with the use of a few lines of code. The strategy and methods to be used is entirely dependent on the business use-case.

Architecture in a nutshell

Application

An application works as a container/folder that stores other objects types such as Functions, Decision Tables, Rulesets, Formulas, etc. The application also determines the behavior of the objects that are contained within it. For example, versioning of contained objects can be set at the application level.

Some of the most commonly used object types within an application are briefly described below:

Function

Creates the context/ provides the access to the data access definitions created in the conditions to process the rules within it. For example, if the desired result from the processing of a BRFplus application is a Carrier, then the result data object will be the field ‘Carrier’ and the field ‘shipping condition’ used for the determination of the carrier will form the context data object.

Rulesets

Rulesets are a collection/grouping of rules “for better organization, structuring, and management” (Ziegler and Albrecht p.26).  They are processed during runtime when the specific function that they are assigned to is processed during a call to BRFplus. For example, in the business scenario above, IF Shipping condition is ‘Express’ then result is a ‘Parcel carrier’, ELSE process a decision table to find the best suitable carrier based on other input parameters (Example, Source & Destination Locations and weight breaks).

Expressions

Expressions form the “…building blocks of rules” (Ziegler and Albrecht p.215). The various expression types within BRFplus enable the processing of a specific logic. For example, Decision tables are expression types that enable the sequential processing of “IF…THEN” statements.  To build on the earlier example, IF ‘ERP-SD Shipping Condition’ EQUALS ‘Express’ AND ‘Country of Destination’ EQUALS ‘Australia’ THEN result IS carrier type ‘Parcel Carrier’ and service level type ‘Service 2 Day Air’.

Formulas allow the processing of mathematical and logical rules and Loop statements repeat the processing of a set of rules, which can include the processing of other expressions. For example, miscellaneous formula functions such as “Convert Amount” can be used to convert one currency into another currency. Multiple currencies can be converted into a standardized currency.

Simulation

The simulation tool within BRFplus allows the user to analyze and test the logic with test data. This provides tremendous flexibility to the users to test the rules before they are deployed into the productive system environment.

The BRFplus Approach in SAP TM

The examples above provided some simple ideas where BRFplus can be an applicable technology to enhance the standard solution footprint. Transportation as such is not a complex business process; it typically involves shipping goods from a point A to a point B. However, the involved parties and stakeholders, security regulations, service provisions and many other requirements create an enormous amount of rules for how a particular transportation process shall be carried out. Very often the software vendor will not be able to provide out-of-the-box features for every single business rule.

BRFplus is a very elegant approach that SAP now delivers to model such specific business rules and bring the maintenance of the business rules to the End User while the modeling is still conducted by SAP application and technology consultants.

We plan to blog further on creating data access definitions (input data), conditions (for rules processing), and how they all tie in together to create a BRFplus application.

by: Samir P.

 

Reference:

C. Ziegler, T. Albrecht, BRFplus Business Rule Management for ABAP Applications

 

 

 

Is MS Excel driving your Transportation and Logistics processes?

In a November post last year we announced the SAP TM 8.0 go-live of a market-leading consumer electronic company. At the beginning of 2012 GOPA ITC completed a SAP TM 8.1 Proof-of-Concept for one of the largest Chemical companies world-wide – the POC approach and its value is chronicled in this recent posting – resulting in the start of a TM deployment this summer.

One element that the Logistics Departments of these two major corporations had in common was a tendency to model and maintain business rules in Excel spreadsheets, a fact that persists across many different industries, geographies and company sizes. The rules itself can range from very simple to highly complex. Simple rules for example dictate purely which carrier shall be selected for a given shipment going to a particular customer. More complex rules can be nested and arrive at a result once a hierarchy of rules (similar to a branch and bound algorithm) have been analyzed and interpreted. Examples would first determine the order size, resulting in a means of transport like Parcel or LTL. Once the means of transport is determined the nested rules become more specific and determine carriers based on regional and equipment availability, capacity commitments and potentially preferences of the consignee or other business partners.

EXCEL-like Planning versus Optimization

The approach as such is not necessarily one of ‘Optimization’ but rather of Rules-Based or Excel-like planning.

The business reasons behind these rules can be of different origin. Compliance reasons (the Rule 11 regulations in the US Rail sector comes to mind), a desire to balance carrier commitments or the simple fact that important customers desire the adherence to their own freight contracts. In other words ‘Customer Routing Guides’ very often dictate the specific shipping options. Read the rest of this entry »

SAP TM 9.0 Ramp-Up – Breakthrough for the LSP industry

The last few days GOPA ITC co-sponsored the International SAP Conference for Transportation and Logistics 2012 that took place in St. Leon-Rot near Walldorf, Germany (SAP’s headquarter). Next to being the second largest location of SAP in Germany, St. Leon-Rot might be most famous for its Golf Club which co-hosted the Deutsche Bank- SAP Open from 1999-2004 on a bi-yearly basis. Tiger Woods in his prime years won this tournament in 1999, 2001 and 2002 attracting major crowds.

Customers present on SAP TM 8.1 and SAP TM 9.0 experiences

SAP Industry Business Unit lead and Event Host Till Dengel can leave this event in a really good state of mind. With the release-to-customer of SAP TM 9.0 SAP has reached a breakthrough for the non-asset based Logistics Service Provider industry. SAP TM customers Artoni, DHL, Canadian Pacific and Linfox all talked about their specific project experiences from different vantage points. When attendees see CIO’s of major industry players like DHL and Linfox on stage you can’t help but notice. The overall atmosphere at the event was a mixture of excitement and anticipation which stems from the fact that SAP Transportation Management 9.0 now represents a comprehensive solution footprint for the forwarding industry. The significant addition of the Air Forwarding scenario to SAP TM 9.0 completes the major requirements of the Forwarding Industry around Road, Ocean and Air processes. Of course work remains to fill up the feature list, however the highly flexible architecture of TM in general, future releases and the SAP ecosystem will be able to take care of this in the near-term future.

Shippers and LSP’s benefit alike from SAP TM 9.0 Read the rest of this entry »

The Proof of Concept approach – a bridge to a successful implementation

The Golden Gate Bridge recently celebrated its 75th birthday. Fireworks lit up the night sky as a hue of colors settled over the San Francisco Bay. With the bridge as a backdrop and the San Francisco Boys Chorus singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, I stood among thousands of others captivated by this iconic structure. Its hard to imagine that the construction of this San Francisco landmark was once opposed vehemently – and yet it stands tall today having undeniably proven its worth to the denizens of this beautiful city. Today a staggering 125,000 people commute into and out of San Francisco everyday using the bridge!

The experience reminded me of a recent Proof of Concept (POC) undertaking with one of our clients. For a company with a global presence encompassing 15 different business units from (chemicals to food), a robust & dynamic supply chain is of paramount importance.  The customer’s need for a supply chain execution platform synchronizing & integrating its end to end processes from logistics with order management, manufacturing, trade compliance, track & trace, environmental, health & safety was absolutely vital. After much discussion we zeroed in on a Proof of Concept as the right approach to tackle this problem. This approach offered the customer the opportunity to “test drive” core processes in order to validate its needs are met as expected. The value proposition for a customer doesn’t end there -by investing 5% of the total project cost up-front customers are able to identify and circumvent complex challenges that could become showstoppers later. In this way, a Proof of Concept would act as the first step of the blueprinting phase – very much like a conduit or bridge to a successful project launch.

There are multiple benefits to this kind of approach:

–       “One Stop Shop” – hosting, in house expertise, application software

–       Reduced confusion or doubt by prototyping process scenario’s critical pain points prior to project launch

–       Improved chances of buy-in from stakeholders and power users

–       Accelerated implementation & deployment

–       Improve & fine tune the decision making process

–       Limited initial investment & touchable results achieved rapidly (6-10 weeks)

–       Develop solution and scenario know-how efficiently

–       Focused knowledge transfer sessions

 

By leveraging the POC approach, we were able to rapidly prototype core business processes as requested by the customer. In this particular POC the focus was on prototyping two international transportation scenarios – exports from Japan to the US & imports into Japan from the US. In my opinion the highlight of this particular project was the ability to showcase the TM’s seamless out-of-the-box integration with ECC – for order integration, with GTS (Global Trade Services) – for export declaration, compliance & EM (Event Management) – for track & trace capabilities. For customers looking for a synchronized supply chain execution platform these benefits are endless. There are multiple options and questions that need to be addressed when you think of how you want to approach a system implementation project. (Link to “Implementing SAP TM – how to get started”). We at GOPA IT Consultants feel that a Proof of Concept can be an excellent starting point to help deliver fast and early success for our customers. Please let us know if we can help build the bridges that will help you embark on your TM journey.

by: Kiran G.

 

Groundhog Day – SAP Event Season and SAP TM in General Availability status

One of the more creative movies in the comedy genre in the 1990’s was a Bill Murray flick called ‘Groundhog Day‘ (Link to internet movie database) also featuring Andie MacDowell. The story of the Punxsutawney groundhog forecasting the arrival of springtime is now a popular talking topic when it comes to any events that seem to be recurring frequently in a eerily similar fashion. When I first saw the movie I thought that this was a completely made up story, only to learn later that the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, as well as the Groundhog Day (Link to Wikipedia entry) itself, truly exist.

As someone who is about to attend his 15th SAPPHIRE next month, sometimes springtime has the feeling of Groundhog Day. A few SAP events like the annual SAP Sales Field Kick-Off and the SAP SCM Insider event have already set the tone for 2012, and others like the Customer Value Network event have only added to the usual networking, education and marketing opportunities for customers, partners and SAP. SAPPHIRE 2012 will again take place in Orlando for the – what feels ‘groundhoggish’ – gazillionth time from May 14th to 16th.

SAPPHIRE 2012 in Orlando – Visit the GOPA ITC booth

As discussed in the blog post on the Field Kick-off meeting SAP executives will continue to stress the strategy of Big Data, in-memory technology HANA, cloud and mobile technology. SAP is gaining momentum with its message and it will be interesting to see how this momentum will turn into market success for SAP in 2012 and beyond. One thing is very obvious, the traditional database market is going through a change – with SAP, Oracle, IBM and others fighting for market share. How major the change will be, only time will tell.

GOPA ITC will be on-site as a SAPPHIRE exhibitor, showcasing SAP Transportation Management 8.1 with a number of different live demos. Stay tuned to this blog to learn more about GOPA ITC’s activities at SAPPHIRE in the following weeks. We would welcome the opportunity to meet you in person and discuss your TMS initiative.

SAP TM 8.1 now in General Availability status

On another note something that will never feel like Groundhog Day is when SAP releases new versions of SAP Transportation Management into General Availability (GA) status. Only about 9 months after releasing SAP TM 8.0 into GA – see blog post on this announcement here –  SAP TM 8.1 followed suite with the GA release on March 29th, 2012. This announcement has to be considered significant for various reasons.

  • it shows the confidence that SAP now has in the stability of its TMS product
  • apparently customers can take SAP TM into production in a relatively short period of time. SAP will only release software into GA with a proven set of live customers.
  • SAP is well on its way to fulfill more and more of its roadmap promise – a great sign for SAP, customers and partner alike.
  • For the first time SAP customers now have a natural upgrade path available when coming from lower releases. Moving from SAP TM 8.0 to SAP TM 8.1 is considered like any other SAP upgrade removing a lot of uncertainty out of implementation discussions
  • Logistics Service Providers – specifically organizations in the Forwarding industry – now for the first time have a generally available version at their fingertips that SAP claims is ‘market-ready’

SAP TM and SAP EWM converging into the Supply Chain Execution platform

SAP is working feverishly on version 9.0 due out this summer. As I blogged in the post from October 18th, 2011, one of the most exciting developments from a shipper perspective is the convergence of SAP TM and SAP EWM into a Supply Chain Execution platform. Expect SAP to exploit the availability of first scenarios that integrate these major software components directly. GOPA ITC has partnered with market leading EWM System Integrator Logi-Star (www.logi-star.com) to form a strong alliance of SAP TM and SAP EWM implementation experience. At SAPPHIRE our two organizations will be in close proximity to each other on the Exhibition floor. SAP TM 9.0 is only the beginning of this journey of converging SCE solutions.

SAP TM 9.0, however, will deliver much more than TM-EWM integration scenarios. Air Freight scenarios are on the top of the list along with many other topics. Future blog posts certainly will focus on SAP TM 9.0 developments as we learn more about this upcoming software version.

There are many things to be excited about when you work in the SAP Transportation Management space. Stay tuned…don’t be groundhogged!

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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