Single SAP ERP instance landscapes are a dream scenario for many CIO's which for various reasons will never be reality for many corporations. Acquisitions or divestitures, joint ventures, incompatible technologies, existing interfaces to other systems or business partners or purely a lack of budget stand in the way of this desired state of a consolidated and harmonized back-end system.
While Cloud and Big Data gurus are preaching shared storage capacity and computing power in times of hi-end analytics apps, reality in the ERP world will leave many legacy applications out there that will not go away for the foreseeable future. These systems still run mission-critical order entry and financial processes of many corporations worldwide.
The good news is that SAP Transportation Management is designed to deal with such systems and technologies. The even better news is that SAP TM can still deliver significant beneftits in many lines of business without pre-packaged integration to SAP ERP.
Yes, we can do one better. SAP TM can even handle feeds from multiple systems, SAP and/or non-SAP, all at once, in a single TM instance.
The key is clever design of the data and process flows between TM and its feeding systems (senders and receivers) as well as Master Data concepts that take advantage of the superior architecture of SAP TM.
It would not be uncommon for a shipper client from let's say the Consumer Package industry to feed order data from Legacy System A into TM, while spitting out financial settlement data from TM to Legacy System B which acts as the Financial system. This scenario is possible in parallel to having a standard integration scenario from SAP ERP System C to the same SAP TM system.
At Novigo we have integrated various legacy system scenarios - they all vary by degree of integration or sometimes better worded 'Interfacing'. It all depends on what benefits the client wants to get out of SAP TM. Potentially with very few adpatations to the existing legacy systems, TM can bring new innovation and change to an organization.
Legacy integration does not have to stop at the company walls. Similarly the same concept can be applied to business processes involving your business partners.
One of the first scenarios that Novigo designed was receiving 'Ready-to-Ship' signals from China based Contract Manufacturers collaborating with a large-scale Consumer Electronics company. Although the SAP TM system was being implemented by the Consumer Electronics giant, the actual trigger point (aka 'Order') for TM came from an actual business partner system. Taking it further TM - after some planning steps - responded back directly to the business partner system. In essence it allowed a TM process without even touching the SAP ERP system of our Consumer Electronics giant. A perfect fit for Inbound scenarios in many cases where the ERP system often lacks fundamental data elements to allow for efficient transport planning.
In summary: Don't allow Legagy systems to handcuff your desire to implement new technology. SAP TM has the architectural design elements in place to handle legacy technology. Just ask Novigo how to get started!