SAP GTS and SAP S/4HANA: What’s Changed?

For the past 16 years, SAP Global Trade Services (GTS), used by over 2,000 customers, has been the SAP application for foreign trade. But what happens when a company switches to SAP S/4HANA?


What does classic SAP GTS do?

Back in the days of SAP R/2 and SAP R/3, companies with international business relationships were already using standardized functionalities for foreign trade.

For example:

  • The international movement of goods was logged (Intrastat)
  • Export permit requirements were monitored (Legal Control)
  • Trade agreements were observed for import duties (Preference Management)
  • And promises to pay from the importer were given to the executing companies (Letter of Credit)


In 2000, all import and export notifications, which had up until that point been drawn up on paper, switched over to electronic communication, and were consolidated together with existing foreign trade functionalities in the SAP Global Trade Services application (SAP GTS). Since then, SAP GTS has become the SAP customs and foreign trade platform.


How will the new SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (SAP S/4HANA) affect companies using SAP GTS?

SAP GTS is continually being enhanced, and remains SAP’s customs and foreign trade platform. Customers now using SAP S/4HANA have the opportunity to start using foreign trade functionalities in SAP S/4HANA. Building on its SAP GTS experience, SAP has selectively developed foreign trade functionalities in SAP S/4HANA. SAP firstly redeveloped the Intrastat functionalities in SAP S/4HANA.

Companies that use both SAP S/4HANA and SAP GTS are able to use the newly coded Intrastat functionalities. A main advantage is that status updates on international goods movements can be produced quicker and more precisely. Secondly, SAP is currently working toward legally monitoring export activity (Legal Control) before export management is made available as an SAP S/4HANA functionality for the SAP S/4HANA Cloud Edition. The newly developed foreign trade functionalities in SAP S/4HANA are grouped together under SAP S/4HANA for International Trade.

All companies that use the classic SAP GTS can of course deploy SAP GTS alongside AP S/4HANA on premise.


Who is already running the new Intrastat functionalities with SAP S/4HANA?

All companies that are on SAP S/4HANA, and that used the previous Intrastat functionality in SAP ECC.


Does the new enhancement of SAP GTS functions based on SAP S/4HANA mean that the conventional SAP GTS will not be developed further?

No. SAP is continuing to develop customs and foreign trade functionalities in parallel.


What does that mean for SAP GTS customers? For companies that deploy multiple ERP and logistics systems, SAP GTS will remain the core solution for customs and foreign trade, since the data stems from various different systems. One of the major strengths and advantages of SAP GTS is that logistical data can be pulled from multiple ERP and transport management systems, for instance to centralize import and export announcments within a single system.

An additional benefit is SAP GTS architecture with its extensive SD and MM integration. This enables data to be collected from SD and MM processes, which can be processed accordingly for communication with customs authorities. Companies using a hybrid IT system environment will experience virtually no changes.

What does that mean for SAP S/4HANA customers? Companies using SAP S/4HANA and no other logistics systems will be able to draw on the foreign trade functionalities in SAP S/4HANA in the future.

A functionality was recently implemented for SAP S/4HANA, and two others are in the realization phase. What should companies do if they want customs and foreign trade processes to map in SAP GTS, but also want to benefit from SAP S/4HANA?

Any business that implements SAP S/4HANA can carry on using existing SAP GTS functions. This is a major added value for our customers. The high degree of integration between SAP ECC and SAP GTS continues to apply for SAP S/4HANA. Companies using SAP GTS can supplement it with SAP S/4HANA, or continue using it as before. SAP GTS will continue to be enhanced.


Will customers still be able to use existing modifications and custom solutions after individual functionalities switch to SAP S/4HANA?

Customers who have been using the standard SAP GTS for years will be able to continue using those functions also in SAP S/4HANA, provided customer enhancements are implemented using Business Add-Ins BadIs), user exits use their own coding without modifications, and non-modifying custom code is used in user exits which do not use any data structures from the “old” Foreign Trade.

Neil How
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Neil How

Neil ran his first SAP transformation programme in his early twenties. He spent the next 21 years working both client side and for various consultancies running numerous SAP programmes. After successfully completing over 15 full lifecycles he took a senior leadership/board position and his work moved onto creating the same success for others.

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