Use SAP Document Management System to Optimize Your Imports Process

  • by Jawad Akhtar, Head of SAP Delivery, AbacusConsulting
  • January 20, 2014
Integrating SAP Document Management System (DMS) with your imports procurement process can save significant time, effort, and resources compared with a completely custom-developed or an out-of-SAP solution.
Learning Objectives

Reading this article, you will learn how to:

  • Enter into an SAP Document Management System (DMS) document and integrate it with procurement elements such as a purchase order.
  • Enter into a purchase order and link it with a DMS document.
Key Concept

International trade is an integral part of many businesses. It is a complex process, requiring a large amount of documentation in areas such as legal, shipment, and banking. All banking transactions are managed through a letter of credit (LC), and shipment-related matters are attended with a bill of lading (BL).

Compared to the highly integrated financial documents for exports processing in SAP’s sales and distribution (SD) component, the imports process in the SAP materials management (MM) procurement function is not nearly as comprehensive. SAP ERP provides only an Imports tab with very limited fields that can’t handle the complexities of procuring materials from a foreign country.

There is no provision to enter the information listed in a letter of credit (LC) or bill of lading (BL), so the business process owner either manages the import process outside the ERP system or uses a custom-developed ABAP interface to input and store all the information.

The information that import personnel have to manage is not only diverse but also dynamic. For example, they might conduct transactions through four banks. To add a new bank, they must first add it as an option in the ABAP interface that has been developed to cater to the import process. Similarly, if ports of shipment or arrival change, amending the information in the SAP system is difficult because it was custom coded.

SAP ERP does not have the provisions to manage all the complexities of the imports processes, and options such as an ABAP solution that has been developed to cater to the import process need constant updates as soon as one or more of the parameters changes.

To meet these challenges, SAP Document Management System (DMS) records import-related details and offers the ability to link the information with procurement elements such as purchase order, quantity, or value contract. You also can store the original LC or BL document in the DMS for reference and recordkeeping purposes.

Jawad Akhtar

Jawad Akhtar earned his chemical engineering degree from Missouri University of Science and Technology. He has 17 years of professional experience, of which nine years are in SAP. He has completed eight end-to-end SAP project implementation lifecycles in the areas of PP, QM, MM, PM, and DMS in the steel, automobile, chemical, fertilizer, FMCG, and building products industries. He also has worked as an SAP integration manager and an SAP project manager. He has been proactively involved in a business development and solution architect role for seven years. He is the author of Production Planning and Control with SAP ERP, it's filled with in-depth infomation on discrete, process, and repetitive manufacturing types. His profile on LinkedIn is at You may follow Jawad on Twitter @jawadahl. Currently, he is associated with AbacusConsulting as Head of SAP Delivery.

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