As I sit in the airport lounge of Copenhagen airport waiting for my flight to take me home, I cannot but be in awe of the week that has just gone by. I was invited by SAP and the conference producers T.A. Cook to speak at the International SAP Conference on Supply Chain held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Whilst I always find the venues, topics and programmes put together by conference producing organisations to be highly successful, educational and informative, this was one was very special to me: Never had I been to a conference where SAP TM (Transportation Management) was a topic that featured so prominently. This was true not just on the basis of the number of sessions that focussed on this topic, but also on the basis of the people that were there: key SAP Transportation Management community influencers and thought leaders from SAP, its partners and customers.

The sessions

Markus Schumann from Continental tires on day 1 talked about “Efficient Freight Cost Management with SAP Transportation Management at Continental Tires”. Whilst I was from a distance aware of their TM implementation, as it has been widely publicised, it was great to hear it first hand and have the opportunity to interact and ask Markus a few questions. The aim of the project was to have a better visibility of their freight spend, without having to impact existing processes. For example the consolidation of deliveries into shipments is still done in ERP.  Whilst the functional scope of the TM implementation was for the most standard, which shows the good fit of the solution to the industry, what truly impressed me, was Continental’s organisational aspects and approach: Whilst they sought inputs from all their regions, they were actually able to decide upon one global approach – there should only be one way to do one thing was my takeaway.

The last presentation of day 1 was delivered by fellow compatriot David Bizien  from Coliposte (a division of the French Postal Service). David talked about  “how ColiPoste has improved its financial processes using SAP TM”. Of particular note is that this TM implementation was originally intended to be a temporary solution (i.e minimal budget) whilst a more long term solution was being developed for the entire postal service, using another non SAP product. However, this temporary TM based solution has shown to be so effective and successful that the longer term solution has now been shelved and they are looking to roll TM out nationwide – we’ll be on the lookout for some great stories coming out from that project. Highlights of this project, albeit being a custom development, included the raising of a pre-invoicing document that was then sent to the carriers for approval. The benefit here is that business operators only really need to deal with the exceptions, where the carriers dispute the charges. An additional aspect of this implementation is that it was for the main part done internally with minimal support from a consulting company.

Day 1 was as it is customary, closed off by a dinner and drinks held at SALT, in the heart of Copenhagen.

Day 2 was opened by Christian Boos from SAP and he talked about “how to move SCM innovation to reality”. Christian talked about market trends and the very concise and extensive portfolio of services that his team offer with a choice of cloud or on-premise delivery. He also talked about key customers where his team had delivered supply chain projects. One that I found to be of particular interest was a TM one of course. His team rolled out a TM solution in 16 weeks to a South African customer using an RDS to kick start the project.

I presented right after Christian and talked about the IT enablement of the Real Time Supply Chain. The points I tried to stress were that, beyond the ability to monitor your supply chain activities as they unfold before you, it is important to be able to have the foresight to see business events coming and predict if they will adversely impact you. Failing that, the real time supply chain is also about reducing the time it takes to understand that you have been hit by an adverse business event and reduce the time it will take you to resolve it. The late detection of an important business event is the most likely cause for major supply chain disruption.

Other presentations of note

Of course there were many other speakers, that delivered equally noteworthy presentations, on other topics.

One such presentation was the one from Christian Wreth (DeLaval)  and he talked about  “increasing visibility across the Supply Chain with SAP Event Manager”. SAP Event Management is of course also very tightly integrated with SAP TM. Christian and his team also came up with one global process and they use SAP Event Management to track the progress of their project orders.

Bradley Coward, from SAPPI,  (I must admit I never heard of them before), a global leader in paper and pulp, came all the way from South Africa to talk about how, as the CIO he is also the Chief Innovation Officer. With the advent of iDevices, they have over time seen the need for paper decrease, but were through innovation able to diversify the outlets for their core product.

Hakan Bulur (ETI) – talked about “transforming ETI with SAP” and wow, what a transformation it must have been. In the space of a year, they implemented 12 modules within ECC, TRM (Treasury and Risk Management), MII (Manufacturing Intelligence & Integration) , SRM (Supplier Relationship Management), APO DP (Demand Planner), TPM (Trade Promotions Management), BW and PI. They more recently this year also implemented CO-PA on HANA and BW on HANA….and they have plans to implement even more SAP solutions. The integration of these products is obviously working great for them.

In closing

As I said in my opening paragraph, this was a great conference from a content point of view because there were so many TM discussions to have. Beyond the TM presentations and their speakers, there were plentiful opportunities to have side conversations with the other attendees and there again I was spoilt for choice. It was good to meet Franz Hero, SVP Supply Chain Management & Logistics at SAP. Always great to talk to familiar faces again like Elinor Castell  TM Solution Owner at SAP, Bernd Mosbrucker VP at Novigo and Matt Eames from Rocket Consulting. I also got to make new acquaintances with so many others (apologies for not naming you all individually) which I am sure will persist over time.

Signing off, pumped up and enthused! Till next time.