An Invaluable Real-World Performance Tip They Don't Teach Implementation Teams and Designers in CO-PA Class: "Characteristic Group

by Tony Rogan, Senior Applications Consultant, et alia The most common "Characteristics" that report readers like to have associated with revenue or cost data in CO-PA include Product #s, Customer #s, Sales Representatives ID #s, and Locations. But depending on the kind of revenue or cost that is being updated to CO-PA, there may be a business need to record other "Characteristics" at the same time. Or, perhaps end users are populating too many Characteristics in source transactions that require manual entry of Characteristics values. This article explains how such cases can be managed with consistency by creating and maintaining (in the CO-PA configuration) rules in a "Characteristic Group," which can then be enforced during attempts to update a particular revenue or cost in CO-PA. The CO-PA module usually acts as a "Gross Margin" analysis tool, rather than as a full-blown "Earnings-BeforeInterest-and-Taxes" ledger. But, regardless of how your particular site uses it, each CO-PA debit or credit entry will have two — and only two — parts to it:

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The "Who/What/Where," or "Characteristics" part of the entry. The "How Much Quantity or Money," or "Key Figures" part of the entry.1

"Characteristics" vs. "Key Figures"
The most common "Characteristics" that report readers like to have associated with the profit-related (revenue or cost) data in CO-PA include Product #s, Customer #s, Sales Representatives ID #s, and Locations (such as Shipped From and Shipped To cities and countries). But there can be many other "Who," "What," or "Where" bits of information that should be recorded at the same time as the "How Much" value(s), depending on the kind of revenue or cost that is being updated to CO-PA. Or, perhaps the opposite business need exists. Perhaps the end users of source transactions that require manual entry of values into Characteristics fields — transactions such as manual postings to CO-PA or "settlement" allocations to CO-PA from the Project Systems module — sometimes populate too many Characteristics. To help you manage these cases with consistency, the CO-PA configuration can include rules (created and maintained in a "Characteristic Group") that can be enforced during any attempts by end users to update a particular revenue or cost in CO-PA. I’ve used this feature since the days of R/3 Release 3.1. The navigation path from the latest release (4.6D as of press time) is shown in Figure 1 (next page). Once you create a "Characteristic Group," you can then assign it to the source transactions in which you want that logic to be always enforced.

where he or she will have to type in values for one or more CO-PA Characteristics. the choice is yours as to which fields to make required manual entry. and over the years has worked for various industries. But. with emphasis on Cost Center Accounting. Who/What/Where fields) do and do not get populated from each kind of Revenue and Cost source transaction that updates your particular CO-PA system. Blocked Entry Configuration allows you to express your choice of Characteristics to be "required. you create a Characteristic Group that requires population of the two product-related Characteristics. Tony Rogan is a Certified FI/CO Consultant at et alia with over six years of SAP consulting experience. Summary The CO-PA "Characteristic Group" functionality offers a useful way to establish consistency in regards to which Characteristics (i. For more details about CO-PA functionality. let’s pretend that you have warehousing expenses posted to the G/L via a FI journal entry. Profit . In this case. the FI journal entry end user will be navigating to a special data entry screen.6D Required Entry vs. (Other Characteristics that are part of your Derivation Rules will still be automatically populated. For example. and which to protect against manual entry. by the end user. such as Company Code and site-specific. product-related Characteristics. and that your CO-PA design calls for these expenses to also update CO-PA directly from that FI journal entry. Tony’s expertise lies in the Financial and Controlling modules. making it used for all transactions that post to CO-PA with that record type). as a way to prevent end users from unintentionally interfering with that derivation.. You — as the CO-PA designer — want to be sure that Accounting personnel responsible for posting the entry always populate two specific product-related Characteristics.) Once you then assign the Characteristic Group to the desired transaction for which it should be used (or to the COPA "Record Type" itself. and never the Customer and other organizational Characteristics. In addition to an obvious benefit of making the data more consistent — and thus easier to interpret in the reports — the consistency also helps out in terms of overall CO-PA response speeds." This typically means that it might be a good idea to choose Blocked Entry logic for Characteristics fields for which CO-PA derivation rules already and which blocks all the other Characteristics. non-profit. consumer goods. high-tech. ultimately. including utilities.Figure 1 The Characteristic Group Navigation Path in R/3 Release 4. FI/CO Expert subscribers may download a free copy of Tony Rogan’s "Performance Tips for CO-PA" white paper from www.FICOExpertOnline. and process manufacturing. He began his SAP career in 1995 with a Big 5 consulting firm. Product Costing.e. such as Product Hierarchy — they just cannot be populated manually." and Characteristics to be "blocked. To solve this issue. the Characteristic Group becomes active. Internal Orders.

. the "Sold To" Customer # or the "Product" material #. In contrast to a CO-PA "Key Figure. In CO-PA. It is also a category of quantity or money. Special Ledger. or Where fact. three commonly used "Key Figures" related to Cost of Goods Sold are "Raw Materials Cost." In G/L accounting. unrelated to money or quantity — e. 1 The concept of a "Key Figure" can be quite confusing at first. Project Systems. ." a CO-PA "Characteristic" represents a Who. and Profitability Analysis. the "Key Figure" is not only a quantity value or a money value." and "Variable Manufacturing Cost. and Business Warehouse. What. all three would simply be represented as a debit value to a Cost of Goods Sold G/L account #. especially if you’re used to thinking about G/L accounting concepts." "Fixed Manufacturing Cost. For example. He also has experience with Enterprise Consolidations.Center Accounting. LIS.g.

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