Billing of transport costs within a group of companies
There are companies that outsource logistics services to external service providers. In addition, there are companies that prefer a logistics service provider within their own group of companies. There are many reasons for this: fear of becoming overdependent on external service providers, quality arguments and possible cost savings.
Every transport of goods costs money. The logistics service provider within the group of companies that provides services for sister companies also wants to earn money or at least cover its costs. But how does the billing of transport costs work in such an intercompany case?
We have looked at how SAP S/4HANA TM (Transportation Management) can be used to realize the claiming of costs for the provision of transportation services within a group of companies and which specific system settings are necessary for this.
What business scenario is being examined?
The key aspects are the following conditions:
A group logistics company is a
- legally independent company
- within a group of companies,
- which does not manufacture products itself, but
- acts exclusively as a logistics company.
It is mainly responsible for the manufacturing companies within the Group. Our exemplary group of companies consists of the group logistics company (e.g. SAP company code 0002) and a manufacturing company (e.g. SAP company code 0003); this is also referred to as a “shipper company”.
We will first show which processes can still be linked to our focus scenario. For this reason, the following process illustration shows not only the group-internal debit-side settlement of the group logistics company as the executing transport logistics service provider, but also the debit-side settlement to companies outside the group. In addition, we would like to take a brief look at the concept of credit-side settlement.
Basically, we would like to point out that the terms “customer”, “debit-side” as well as “vendor” and “credit-side”, which are known from SAP ERP, do not occur in SAP TM. A debit-side settlement integrated with SAP ERP is nevertheless supported.
To the illustration: Technically this process in SAP TM also includes so-called freight units, but for simplification they are not shown here.
- Credit-side settlement – The group logistics company as a customer of an executing logistics service provider
The group logistics company may not only carry out transports for which it has been commissioned with its own vehicle fleet but may also subcontract these to other transport service providers. This process is shown in white in the middle of the figure.
For this purpose, the group logistics company creates a freight order in its SAP S/4HANA TM system, on which relevant freight units are planned. After calculating the freight costs, the so-called freight settlement document is created. This document is used for credit-side settlement with the commissioned external forwarding agent.
When the data of a freight settlement document is transferred to the SAP ERP system, a purchase order and a service entry sheet is generated in the MM module. Depending on the agreement with the freight forwarder, the amounts calculated in the TM are then either checked against the freight forwarder’s invoice or the internal group logistics company settles with the freight forwarder via “credit memo procedure” (self-billing).
- The “classic” debit-side settlement – invoicing to third-party companies outside the group
The blue colored diagram on the left side shows the “classic” case of debit-side invoicing when looking at the history of SAP Transportation Management: A third-party company external to the group commissions the logistics company (in our case the group logistics company) to carry out a transport.
In order to map the scenario on the system side, a shipping order is first created as a transport requirement in SAP S/4HANA TM of the group logistics company. The freight units created by the system are planned to one or more freight orders. Then the transport costs are calculated based on the shipping order and a shipping settlement document is created. Its data is transferred to the ERP system of the group logistics company, where a customer invoice is automatically generated in the SD module. This is then received by the third-party company as an incoming invoice.
- Debit-side settlement – The group logistics company as a logistics service provider
Let us now come to our actual focus topic: an internal group shipper commissions the group logistics company to carry out a transport. This process is shown in green in the diagram on the right.
First of all, the group-internal shipper creates a sales order in its SAP ERP system or, in the case of delivery-based integration, also creates a delivery. On this basis, an order-based or delivery-based transport requirement is generated in the group logistics company’s SAP S/4HANA TM system, also known as OTR or DTR. Instead of the customer order, an order or stock transport order could alternatively be placed, which in the course of the process also leads to a transfer requirement being generated in the group logistics company’s SAP S/4HANA TM system.
The assignment of the transport requirement to freight orders (or in the sea and air freight area to freight bookings), is usually done by freight units. After the execution of the freight order, the internal costs are calculated based on the OTR/DTR. A so-called internal settlement document is then created for the settlement. When transferring the data of an internal billing document to the SAP ERP system of the group logistics company, a customer invoice (billing document) is generated in the SD module.
If the costs are to be charged in the shipping company according to the source, the booking of an incoming invoice in the shipping company must first be triggered from the SD invoice via an IDoc. During the inbound processing of the IDoc, a so-called ABD (Agency Business Document or LO-AB document) is created in the system of the shipping company in addition to the posting of the vendor invoice in FI, which is used for cost distribution. The distribution according to causation is optional and only works if all participating companies in the group use the same SAP ERP system.
Special settings in SAP TM
To ensure that the entire process of intra-group debit-side accounting runs smoothly, the following settings, among others, are necessary
- Integration of orders or deliveries:
Create OTR/DTR transfer requirement type and set the flag for both internal cost calculation and internal settlement. In addition, the internal billing document type should be entered as the default internal billing document type in the field provided.
- Document type for the internal settlement documents:
Create forwarding agent settlement document type of the type “internal settlement document”. If you want to use the option of cause-based cost distribution with generation of an ABD, the flag for internal cost distribution must be activated.
- Setting up the TM organizational structure:
The TM organizational structure is particularly important in the corporate logistics scenario. On the one hand, the subsidiary of the group logistics company must be assigned a corresponding cost profile.
In order to be able to bill and invoice costs or revenues, however, there are a few more special features to consider when setting up the TM organizational structure. We will discuss these in our next blog post, which will focus on the organizational structures in SAP Transportation Management.
- Internal agreement:
In addition, an internal agreement with valid tariff prices must be maintained between the forwarding house of the group logistics company and the sister company as business partner.
Specific SAP ERP settings
For a seamless end-to-end process, the integration into the SAP ERP system must of course also be set up correctly.
- TM integration customizing for invoicing:
For the integration of TM with the SD module, mapping tables are used to define the so-called TM cost elements on the one hand and then to assign condition types from SD on the other hand. On the other hand, organizational units for sales are assigned, which includes the billing type.
- Mapping for cost distribution:
In order to use the option of source-based cost distribution with generation of an ABD, the TM integration customizing for posting via Agency Business must be maintained. In addition, the settings necessary for generating an incoming invoice in the FI module must be made. These are described in the SAP note https://launchpad.support.sap.com/#/notes/2157070/D.
Basic requirements and limitations
The group logistics scenario has already been available for several years: from SAP TM Business Suite version 9.3 onwards. The group logistics scenario is currently not yet supported in S/4HANA Embedded TM. Accordingly, it can only be implemented in a side-by-side system constellation in which SAP S/4HANA TM is connected to SAP ERP as a decentralized instance.
- The group logistics scenario enables billing to affiliated companies within a corporate group.
- It is also possible to distribute the costs according to their origin.
- There are special customizing features to be considered on the TM and ERP side.
We will be happy to advise you on all these questions concerning corporate logistics! If you have any questions about this blog or any other topics, please contact email@example.com.
Consultants SAP Transportation Management