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Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP
Improving Profit and Customer Service
with the Express Shipping Solution
A Case Study Highlighting Shipping Via the Cloud
with SAP and Carrier Web Services
Josh Riff, CEO Blue Harbors
ABSTRACT
For customers who are seeking ways to drive more efficiency from their shipping processes
and derive more value from their software investments, Blue Harbors’ Express Shipping
Solution provides a set of tools that can connect your SAP-based shipping functions directly
to those offered by parcel carriers such as UPS, FedEx, USPS and DHL via the shippers’
own web services.
This case study focuses on a recent implementation of the Express Shipping Solution at a
large pharmaceutical company. This implementation was a successful example of how the
Express Shipping Solution combines the native tools available in SAP, including the Express
Ship Interface, and the cloud-based shipping solutions offered by parcel carriers, to improve
the efficiency of a large shipping operation.
KEY CONCEPT: SHIPPING IS MOVING TO THE CLOUD
In recent years, all of the major parcel carriers have made it possible to create shipments
on the web using cloud-based shipping solutions. To accomplish this, the carriers publish
standard XML templates (Web Services Description Language or WSDL) which are used
to facilitate communication between their customer’s systems and their SaaS shipping
application.
The Express Shipping Solution offered by Blue Harbors integrates the templates already
offered by the major shippers with web based solutions found natively in ECC. These native
SAP components include:
Web Services: Web service calls enable your SAP system to communicate securely with
different software components over the internet using XML. This capability uses a direct
peer-to-peer link between SAP and the carrier’s shipping application.
Express Ship Interface (XSI): XSI, a component found in both ERP Central Component
(ECC) and Extended Warehouse Management (EWM), gathers shipping data required
by a carrier to produce a shipping label. XSI generates shipping labels, air waybills and
commercial invoices, as well as perform parcel tracking in demanding, high volume
environments.
BlueHarbors
Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP
ABOUT OUR CLIENT
The Blue Harbors Client that is the subject of this case study operates a distribution network
in the pharmaceutical industry in the United States.
Before implementing the Express Shipping Solution, the Client used a homegrown
shipping application to produce shipping labels. This application was missing some critical
capabilities: it could not produce international labels, nor could it manifest LTL (Less than
Truckload) shipments. Up to three full time warehouse personnel were needed to process
these types of shipments, adversely impacting revenue targets due to excessive shipping and
operating costs.
The Client’s customers were also being negatively impacted by the legacy system. Even with
a dedicated international/LTL shipping team, the Client could not process all parcels same-
day. Some had to be held over for shipping on the following day, increasing shipping times.
In addition, manual entry meant occasional keying mistakes were made, causing parcels
to be shipped to the wrong address, or inaccurate customs declaration entries would force
customers to pay tariffs on duty-free imports.
The Client needed a solution that could:
❏❏ Handle a high volume of shipping orders. This Client generates more than 7,000
shipping labels daily, in multiple distribution centers. All orders need to print
quickly, dependably and error-free.
❏❏ Support shipping of time-critical ambient and cold-chain (refrigerated and
frozen) medicine as commonly required in the healthcare, life sciences and
pharmaceutical industry.
❏❏ Produce international documentation (air waybills and commercial invoices) along
with the shipping labels automatically for customers located domestically and
internationally.
❏❏ Support reverse logistics, LTL, and FedEx SmartPost service in addition to
conventional ground, air and international shipments.
❏❏ Enable multiple shipping accounts for each carrier to accommodate billing and
reporting needs of third party logistics (3PL) programs.
❏❏ Integrate with FedEx and UPS as primary shipping partners.
The Client’s management team wanted a way to ship directly from SAP using a fully
integrated solution that relied on native functionality. This solution needed to support all
service types offered by FedEx and UPS, including international and LTL shipping. Also, this
solution needed to be implemented quickly.
Blue Harbors’ Express Shipping Solution met all of these needs.
BlueHarbors
Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP
KEY CONSIDERATIONS
Blue Harbors’ Express Shipping Solution builds an interface between the SAP ECC system
and the parcel carrier’s web based solution. Although this sounds straight forward, there are
several challenges in doing this. This case study will discuss some of those challenges.
Choose the Right Shipping Solution
In the pre-project phase, it is important to carefully investigate and select the shipping
solution that best suits your company’s needs. There are many alternatives to the shipping
solution provided by SAP available from third party vendors. For most companies, SAP’s
solution is more than adequate.
Here are a few benefits of the Blue Harbors’ Express Shipping Solution that swayed our
Client to select it:
❏❏ Mature, Robust Functionality - The Express Shipping Solution utilizes XSI and
Web Services components already bundled into their SAP environment. These are
mature, robust components which have been available for a long time and are used
by many companies. The kinks have been largely worked out, and they are fully
supported by SAP for bug fixes and upgrades.
❏❏ Full Integration - The Express Shipping Solution is fully integrated with sales,
delivery and shipment documents and logistics processes. Access to tracking
numbers and other shipping details, including real time parcel tracking, is available
directly within the logistics documents.
❏❏ Cost Effectiveness - The Express Shipping Solution is cost effective. By using
functionality already provided by SAP the Client could better leverage their SAP
investment.
❏❏ No Additional Fees - The Express Shipping Solution requires no subscription or
maintenance fees from SAP or the carrier for this service. Parcel carriers do not
charge to use their web-based shipping applications.
❏❏ Fast and Reliable - The Express Shipping Solution uses direct peer-to-peer
architecture that is fast and reliable; no middleware or additional hardware is
required
No solution is perfect right out of the box, however. There were a few drawbacks to the
solution that had to be worked out during the implementation phase. For example, there
were some shipping services that were not currently available through web services,
including FedEx IDD Surface (Transborder) and IPD, and UPS Trade Direct and real time
GPS tracking.
BlueHarbors
Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP
Meet Solution Requirements
During the early planning phase of the project, Blue Harbors’ Client confirmed that their
SAP system already had the tools required to support this solution. The following tools are
required to be included in the SAP environment in order for the Express Shipping Solution
to work:
❏❏ Express Ship Interface (XSI) has been available in SAP for quite a while – since
1998. It first appeared in version 4.6.
❏❏ SAP Web Services provides your system with the capability to communicate
directly with the outside world. Web Services was introduced in 2003. If Web
Services is not included in your release of SAP, then you will need to upgrade,
extend your system package, or use middleware, such as Business Connector or PI
(XI) to translate data between IDOC and XML formats.
Make Sure You Have the Right People
Implementing SAP’s shipping solution requires a team with a broad spectrum of technical
skills. Blue Harbors’ Client ensured that they had the right resources involved in the project
from the beginning.
At a high level, the responsibilities of each core team member included:
❏❏ Logistics Functional Lead – Set up XSI and fit the solution into existing logistics
processes.
❏❏ Developer - Set up Web Services, pulled together the data needed to create a
shipping label, and built the printing framework to direct images received from the
carrier to the appropriate printer in the distribution center.
❏❏ Change Leadership - Produced training documentation and delivered the training
to end users.
❏❏ Basis Resources – Activated ICM service HTTPS, applied SSL certificates for FedEx
and UPS, created RFC destinations for our scales, and added the laser and bar code
printers to the system.
❏❏ SAP Security - Added new transaction codes necessary to support the Express
Shipping Solution’s addition to existing roles.
❏❏ Network Resource - opened a port for HTTPS communication and added printers
to the network landscape.
❏❏ Network Security Resource - verified that the HTTPS traffic with FedEx and UPS
flowed correctly through the web proxy server.
BlueHarbors
Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP
Ensure Shippers Can Support the Solution
In the project planning phase, the Client and Blue Harbors worked together to confirm that
the carriers supported all shipping requirements for the Express Shipping Solution. Multiple
facilities were involved, so Blue Harbors worked with the Client to poll each location and
develop a complete list of the shipping services used prior to the implementation. This
information achieved multiple goals: it created a complete functional design, allowed
delivery of complete documentation and training, and helped certify the design with the
parcel carriers.
Practice Makes Perfect
In the development phase of the project, Blue Harbors helped the Client set up a functional
lab - an important step in the process of implementing the Express Shipping Solution.
The Lab replicated the exact packing station the Client planned to use after deployment
of the solution. The Lab was connected to the development and QA environments, and
included numerous devices that needed to communicate with SAP: a work station PC,
scale, bar code printer, laser printer and bar code scanner. The Lab required label stock that
was compatible with the bar code printers (thermal transfer vs. direct thermal). Additional
software was installed on the PC to solicit the weight from the scale. This packing station
was located where the project was based, in the IT department.
It was important to include examples of each type of device that would be used post-
implementation in the Lab environment, and to include it in the testing phases. In this case,
the Client found that printer results within the same brand (Zebra printers) yielded different
results across different models and printer configurations, underscoring the importance of
testing all devices.
Order, Deliver and Test New Equipment
Blue Harbors advised the Client to order equipment during the Blueprint phase. This
allowed time to make procurement decisions, order the equipment and have it delivered to
the IT department where the Lab and the project were based.
Project team members confirmed that the correct equipment was ordered and delivered,
and configured all new equipment prior to testing and delivering it into the field.
Involve Your Transportation Partners
Blue Harbors and the Client contacted the account managers with all carriers and notified
them of the Client’s plan to utilize their web services during the development stage of the
project. The account manager provided up-to-date information regarding carrier-specific
BlueHarbors
Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP
procedures to follow when registering for access to their development system and for
getting the design certified for production access.
Certifying an account for access to the carrier’s production environment is a mandatory
one-time process. This critical service provides an opportunity for the carriers to validate
that the shipping labels are constructed and printed properly. Registration takes one to three
weeks.
Make sure to get valid SSL certificates from the carrier. It is necessary to have them installed
in your system before attempting to connect to the parcel carrier’s system. If the certificates
issued by the carrier expire periodically, you’ll need to put a process in place to monitor
them.
Validate All Data
The Client and Blue Harbors also worked to validate ship-to addresses for all customers
during the development phase. The data stored in SAP was reviewed for accuracy, then
transitioned into structured templates based on information required by the carriers. Carriers
do not support all the address options supported by SAP, so it was necessary to streamline
the information kept in the system.
Different shipping services have different data requirements for contact information. Some
need a contact name, some need a contact telephone number, and some need a contact
email address. It was important to collect all of the data needed to support the shipping
services the Client planned on using.
CONCLUSION AND RESULTS
Implementing the SAP shipping solution required significant effort. However, the benefits to
the bottom line appeared soon after the project went live.
Within six months of implementing the Express Shipping Solution, operating costs showed
dramatic improvements due to better shipping efficiencies. Because required shipping data
could now be input and accessed via the cloud, a designated team was no longer needed
to ship international/LTL packages. As a result, operating costs were improved by more than
150% of project budget in the first year alone.
Customer experience also improved dramatically. Now, all deliveries can be processed
same day, so customers receive their products faster. Accidental misrouting resulting from
data entry errors are also a thing of the past, resulting in improved customer satisfaction.
Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP
BlueHarbors
Contact Blue Harbors
To learn more about Blue Harbors and the Express Shipping Solution,
please contact Josh Riff, CEO of Blue Harbors at +1 (415) 799-7769,
or via email at josh@blueharbors.com. Solution details are online at
www.blueharbors.com/xss.
About Blue Harbors
How can we help your business?
Since 2001, Blue Harbors has helped customers maximize the value of their
SAP systems so that they can make more strategic, better informed decisions,
achieve and maintain compliance, and save time and money through aligning
and optimizing technology and business processes.

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Case Study - Parcel and freight shipping software for SAP

  • 1. Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP Improving Profit and Customer Service with the Express Shipping Solution A Case Study Highlighting Shipping Via the Cloud with SAP and Carrier Web Services Josh Riff, CEO Blue Harbors ABSTRACT For customers who are seeking ways to drive more efficiency from their shipping processes and derive more value from their software investments, Blue Harbors’ Express Shipping Solution provides a set of tools that can connect your SAP-based shipping functions directly to those offered by parcel carriers such as UPS, FedEx, USPS and DHL via the shippers’ own web services. This case study focuses on a recent implementation of the Express Shipping Solution at a large pharmaceutical company. This implementation was a successful example of how the Express Shipping Solution combines the native tools available in SAP, including the Express Ship Interface, and the cloud-based shipping solutions offered by parcel carriers, to improve the efficiency of a large shipping operation. KEY CONCEPT: SHIPPING IS MOVING TO THE CLOUD In recent years, all of the major parcel carriers have made it possible to create shipments on the web using cloud-based shipping solutions. To accomplish this, the carriers publish standard XML templates (Web Services Description Language or WSDL) which are used to facilitate communication between their customer’s systems and their SaaS shipping application. The Express Shipping Solution offered by Blue Harbors integrates the templates already offered by the major shippers with web based solutions found natively in ECC. These native SAP components include: Web Services: Web service calls enable your SAP system to communicate securely with different software components over the internet using XML. This capability uses a direct peer-to-peer link between SAP and the carrier’s shipping application. Express Ship Interface (XSI): XSI, a component found in both ERP Central Component (ECC) and Extended Warehouse Management (EWM), gathers shipping data required by a carrier to produce a shipping label. XSI generates shipping labels, air waybills and commercial invoices, as well as perform parcel tracking in demanding, high volume environments.
  • 2. BlueHarbors Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP ABOUT OUR CLIENT The Blue Harbors Client that is the subject of this case study operates a distribution network in the pharmaceutical industry in the United States. Before implementing the Express Shipping Solution, the Client used a homegrown shipping application to produce shipping labels. This application was missing some critical capabilities: it could not produce international labels, nor could it manifest LTL (Less than Truckload) shipments. Up to three full time warehouse personnel were needed to process these types of shipments, adversely impacting revenue targets due to excessive shipping and operating costs. The Client’s customers were also being negatively impacted by the legacy system. Even with a dedicated international/LTL shipping team, the Client could not process all parcels same- day. Some had to be held over for shipping on the following day, increasing shipping times. In addition, manual entry meant occasional keying mistakes were made, causing parcels to be shipped to the wrong address, or inaccurate customs declaration entries would force customers to pay tariffs on duty-free imports. The Client needed a solution that could: ❏❏ Handle a high volume of shipping orders. This Client generates more than 7,000 shipping labels daily, in multiple distribution centers. All orders need to print quickly, dependably and error-free. ❏❏ Support shipping of time-critical ambient and cold-chain (refrigerated and frozen) medicine as commonly required in the healthcare, life sciences and pharmaceutical industry. ❏❏ Produce international documentation (air waybills and commercial invoices) along with the shipping labels automatically for customers located domestically and internationally. ❏❏ Support reverse logistics, LTL, and FedEx SmartPost service in addition to conventional ground, air and international shipments. ❏❏ Enable multiple shipping accounts for each carrier to accommodate billing and reporting needs of third party logistics (3PL) programs. ❏❏ Integrate with FedEx and UPS as primary shipping partners. The Client’s management team wanted a way to ship directly from SAP using a fully integrated solution that relied on native functionality. This solution needed to support all service types offered by FedEx and UPS, including international and LTL shipping. Also, this solution needed to be implemented quickly. Blue Harbors’ Express Shipping Solution met all of these needs.
  • 3. BlueHarbors Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP KEY CONSIDERATIONS Blue Harbors’ Express Shipping Solution builds an interface between the SAP ECC system and the parcel carrier’s web based solution. Although this sounds straight forward, there are several challenges in doing this. This case study will discuss some of those challenges. Choose the Right Shipping Solution In the pre-project phase, it is important to carefully investigate and select the shipping solution that best suits your company’s needs. There are many alternatives to the shipping solution provided by SAP available from third party vendors. For most companies, SAP’s solution is more than adequate. Here are a few benefits of the Blue Harbors’ Express Shipping Solution that swayed our Client to select it: ❏❏ Mature, Robust Functionality - The Express Shipping Solution utilizes XSI and Web Services components already bundled into their SAP environment. These are mature, robust components which have been available for a long time and are used by many companies. The kinks have been largely worked out, and they are fully supported by SAP for bug fixes and upgrades. ❏❏ Full Integration - The Express Shipping Solution is fully integrated with sales, delivery and shipment documents and logistics processes. Access to tracking numbers and other shipping details, including real time parcel tracking, is available directly within the logistics documents. ❏❏ Cost Effectiveness - The Express Shipping Solution is cost effective. By using functionality already provided by SAP the Client could better leverage their SAP investment. ❏❏ No Additional Fees - The Express Shipping Solution requires no subscription or maintenance fees from SAP or the carrier for this service. Parcel carriers do not charge to use their web-based shipping applications. ❏❏ Fast and Reliable - The Express Shipping Solution uses direct peer-to-peer architecture that is fast and reliable; no middleware or additional hardware is required No solution is perfect right out of the box, however. There were a few drawbacks to the solution that had to be worked out during the implementation phase. For example, there were some shipping services that were not currently available through web services, including FedEx IDD Surface (Transborder) and IPD, and UPS Trade Direct and real time GPS tracking.
  • 4. BlueHarbors Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP Meet Solution Requirements During the early planning phase of the project, Blue Harbors’ Client confirmed that their SAP system already had the tools required to support this solution. The following tools are required to be included in the SAP environment in order for the Express Shipping Solution to work: ❏❏ Express Ship Interface (XSI) has been available in SAP for quite a while – since 1998. It first appeared in version 4.6. ❏❏ SAP Web Services provides your system with the capability to communicate directly with the outside world. Web Services was introduced in 2003. If Web Services is not included in your release of SAP, then you will need to upgrade, extend your system package, or use middleware, such as Business Connector or PI (XI) to translate data between IDOC and XML formats. Make Sure You Have the Right People Implementing SAP’s shipping solution requires a team with a broad spectrum of technical skills. Blue Harbors’ Client ensured that they had the right resources involved in the project from the beginning. At a high level, the responsibilities of each core team member included: ❏❏ Logistics Functional Lead – Set up XSI and fit the solution into existing logistics processes. ❏❏ Developer - Set up Web Services, pulled together the data needed to create a shipping label, and built the printing framework to direct images received from the carrier to the appropriate printer in the distribution center. ❏❏ Change Leadership - Produced training documentation and delivered the training to end users. ❏❏ Basis Resources – Activated ICM service HTTPS, applied SSL certificates for FedEx and UPS, created RFC destinations for our scales, and added the laser and bar code printers to the system. ❏❏ SAP Security - Added new transaction codes necessary to support the Express Shipping Solution’s addition to existing roles. ❏❏ Network Resource - opened a port for HTTPS communication and added printers to the network landscape. ❏❏ Network Security Resource - verified that the HTTPS traffic with FedEx and UPS flowed correctly through the web proxy server.
  • 5. BlueHarbors Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP Ensure Shippers Can Support the Solution In the project planning phase, the Client and Blue Harbors worked together to confirm that the carriers supported all shipping requirements for the Express Shipping Solution. Multiple facilities were involved, so Blue Harbors worked with the Client to poll each location and develop a complete list of the shipping services used prior to the implementation. This information achieved multiple goals: it created a complete functional design, allowed delivery of complete documentation and training, and helped certify the design with the parcel carriers. Practice Makes Perfect In the development phase of the project, Blue Harbors helped the Client set up a functional lab - an important step in the process of implementing the Express Shipping Solution. The Lab replicated the exact packing station the Client planned to use after deployment of the solution. The Lab was connected to the development and QA environments, and included numerous devices that needed to communicate with SAP: a work station PC, scale, bar code printer, laser printer and bar code scanner. The Lab required label stock that was compatible with the bar code printers (thermal transfer vs. direct thermal). Additional software was installed on the PC to solicit the weight from the scale. This packing station was located where the project was based, in the IT department. It was important to include examples of each type of device that would be used post- implementation in the Lab environment, and to include it in the testing phases. In this case, the Client found that printer results within the same brand (Zebra printers) yielded different results across different models and printer configurations, underscoring the importance of testing all devices. Order, Deliver and Test New Equipment Blue Harbors advised the Client to order equipment during the Blueprint phase. This allowed time to make procurement decisions, order the equipment and have it delivered to the IT department where the Lab and the project were based. Project team members confirmed that the correct equipment was ordered and delivered, and configured all new equipment prior to testing and delivering it into the field. Involve Your Transportation Partners Blue Harbors and the Client contacted the account managers with all carriers and notified them of the Client’s plan to utilize their web services during the development stage of the project. The account manager provided up-to-date information regarding carrier-specific
  • 6. BlueHarbors Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP procedures to follow when registering for access to their development system and for getting the design certified for production access. Certifying an account for access to the carrier’s production environment is a mandatory one-time process. This critical service provides an opportunity for the carriers to validate that the shipping labels are constructed and printed properly. Registration takes one to three weeks. Make sure to get valid SSL certificates from the carrier. It is necessary to have them installed in your system before attempting to connect to the parcel carrier’s system. If the certificates issued by the carrier expire periodically, you’ll need to put a process in place to monitor them. Validate All Data The Client and Blue Harbors also worked to validate ship-to addresses for all customers during the development phase. The data stored in SAP was reviewed for accuracy, then transitioned into structured templates based on information required by the carriers. Carriers do not support all the address options supported by SAP, so it was necessary to streamline the information kept in the system. Different shipping services have different data requirements for contact information. Some need a contact name, some need a contact telephone number, and some need a contact email address. It was important to collect all of the data needed to support the shipping services the Client planned on using. CONCLUSION AND RESULTS Implementing the SAP shipping solution required significant effort. However, the benefits to the bottom line appeared soon after the project went live. Within six months of implementing the Express Shipping Solution, operating costs showed dramatic improvements due to better shipping efficiencies. Because required shipping data could now be input and accessed via the cloud, a designated team was no longer needed to ship international/LTL packages. As a result, operating costs were improved by more than 150% of project budget in the first year alone. Customer experience also improved dramatically. Now, all deliveries can be processed same day, so customers receive their products faster. Accidental misrouting resulting from data entry errors are also a thing of the past, resulting in improved customer satisfaction.
  • 7. Blue Harbors - SAP SCM Solutions & Consulting Leverage your investment in SAP BlueHarbors Contact Blue Harbors To learn more about Blue Harbors and the Express Shipping Solution, please contact Josh Riff, CEO of Blue Harbors at +1 (415) 799-7769, or via email at josh@blueharbors.com. Solution details are online at www.blueharbors.com/xss. About Blue Harbors How can we help your business? Since 2001, Blue Harbors has helped customers maximize the value of their SAP systems so that they can make more strategic, better informed decisions, achieve and maintain compliance, and save time and money through aligning and optimizing technology and business processes.