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SAP Study MaterialsMonojit Banerjee (firstname.lastname@example.org) SAP General TermsThere are a number of terms that have specific usage and meaning in dealing with SAP. Some of thesegeneral terms are identified below.Client: The highest level in a SAP instance. A client is a self contained unit with a separate set of masterrecords and its own set of configuration tables. An instance (installation) can have more than one client(e.g., a training client, a testing client, and a production client). In using SAP the user logs on to aparticular client that usually has a three digit numeric identifier.Company Code: Represents an independent legal accounting entity that contains a balanced set ofbooks as required by law or regulation. A client may have more than one company code (e.g. a companycode for the US, one for Germany, one for Canada, etc.)Chart of Accounts: A list of all accounts in the General Ledger for a company code. Each company codemust be assigned one, and only one chart of accounts. However, more than one company code can usethe same (i.e., identical) chart of accounts. SAP comes preconfigured with a large number of charts ofaccount. For example, the delivered US chart of accounts is CAUS. Accounts can be added to, deletedfrom, or modified in the delivered chart of accounts as desired by the user.Passwords: Each user has his or her own password. On the initial log in to the system, the user mustchange a generic delivered password to his/her own. The password must be at least three characterslong, cannot begin with a “!” or “?”, and the first three characters unique and not contained in the username.Roles and Profiles: Roles specify the sets of tasks or activities that can be performed by a particularuser within the system. A role is assigned to each user. When the user logs on, the system automaticallypresents a specific menu for that user’s assigned role. For example, a receiving clerk can perform onlycertain tasks within the SAP system. When a receiving clerk logs on, that user’s role will define what theuser will be allowed to view, create, change, delete, etc. Profiles work in the same manner as do roles torestrict authorization for access to the system.User profiles and roles are entered by system administrators into user master records thus enablingusers to access and use specific functions within the system. In a training “case”, users may haveauthorization to all master data and transaction processing applications. This would be highly unusual inactual practice given the need for internal controls and separation of duties.Session: Each instance in which a user is connected to the SAP system is known as a session. A usercan have up to nine sessions open at any given time (but each session is logged into the same client andcompany code).Configuration: Configuration is table-driven customization of the SAP system to meet specific customerrequirements. In configuration the user sets values in tables to cause the system to function in a desiredmanner. Configuration is somewhat like setting the defaults in a word process or spreadsheet application.It does not change the underlying source code in the system. In many “cases” there are no configurationexercises. The case system, usually, is preconfigured.Business ProcessesA business process can be described as a set of linked activities that transform an input into a morevaluable output thus creating value. In many cases business processes are classified as operationalprocesses or as support processes.At the most basic level, a typical business utilizes three operational processes: (1) procurement (purchasing and materials management), (2) production, and (3) sales and distribution (customer order management). Page 1 of 3
The typical support processes include: (1) accounting/controlling and (2) human resources.While these processes have specific identities, they are linked together (integrated) in order tocarry out the day to day activities of a business.For example, the sale of a manufactured product involves not only the sales process but also production(the creation of the product), procurement (of necessary raw materials), accounting/controlling todetermine the profit on the sale, and human resources to ensure the operations are staffed with qualifiedor trained employees. These linkages of activities across business processes necessitate the sharing ofdata across those processes, regardless of which process created the data initially. For example, datarelated to a finished product may be initially created in the production process, but the data are alsorequired in the procurement process and, of course, in accounting/controlling for costing purposes, aswell as in calculating pay based on work production hours.SAP as an integrated ERP system utilizes the principle of a common data record for a given objectthat can be accessed by any process that has need of the various attributes contained in thatcommon record.Business processes are often viewed as elements of a logistics value chains. From this perspectivethe operational processes are defined as sales logistics, production logistics, and procurementlogistics.Types of DataThere are three differing types of data within the SAP system: (1) control or configuration data, (2) master data, and (3) transaction data.Control or configuration data include system and technical functions of the SAP system itself. Thesedata drive the logic of the applications within the system and is primarily used for defining the details ofbusiness processes.For many training “cases”, all control/configuration data have been pre-established so that noconfiguration is necessary to complete the case exercises.Master data represent the various business entities present in the system, both internal and external.For example, master data include internal entities such as: (1) the company (2) a plant (3) a sales area (4) a cost center (5) an account (6) a material (7) a routing (8) a bill of material (9) a personnel fileIn addition there are external entities that are a part of the system’s master data such as: (1) vendors (2) customers (3) employees (4) competitorsFrom one perspective, master data can be thought of as providing the “which” or the “what” that is ofinterest in the activities of the business process. The attributes of the fields within master data arerelatively stable. Page 2 of 3
For example, the master data for a customer containing specific values for the customer’s attributessuch as name, address, delivery priority, terms of payment, etc. vary little over time. Once themaster data record for the customer is set up in the system, it is rarely changed.Also, once set up within the system, it can also be accessed by any business process that mayhave use for the master data. For example, a customer master record may be used in sales,transportation and shipping, production, marketing, accounting, or any other process that may have usefor data contained in the master record.The sets of exercises in different “cases” contain optional exercises that can be used to set up master data for eachof the logistics areas and for accounting. If these optional exercises are not assigned or completed, the case containspre-established master data records for each process that can be used to process transactions in the transactionprocessing exercises. As an additional alternative, the optional exercises involving creation of master data can alsobe used to create additional master data beyond that contained in the case. This allows creation of transactionprocessing exercises in addition to those already contained in the case.Transaction data describe a business event or may be the result of a business process.Example: A sales order would contain transaction data that have resulted from a customer placing anorder to purchase a product from the company. The various attributes necessary to process that salesorder transaction would include such data as: (1) the customer (which allows detailed customer data to be drawn from the customer master record), (2) the item or items being sold (which would draw data from the material master records for those items), (3) the quantities being sold, (4) the desired delivery date, (5) the customer PO number, etc.While the customer master data for this transaction would be the same for various sales orders to thatcustomer, the other data such as items wanted, quantities, delivery dates, etc. would most likely vary fromorder to order. For this reason, transaction data vary from event to event.Transaction data may also arise as the result of the outcome of a completed business process.For example, the system may process an inquiry to determine the current stock quantity level for a rawmaterial. That inquiry is a transaction that extracts the data for the quantity on hand in the warehouse.This too, of course, will vary over time. Other examples, pertaining to human resources, would involve thehiring of employees and pay transactions. From one perspective, therefore, transaction data can beviewed as resulting from the events or activities that are taking place in the business. The transactiondata represent the recorded attributes, elements, and results or outcomes of business events andactivities, and, as a result is the most volatile and frequently used data in day to day business operations.Each of the logistics and support processes addressed in different “cases” contains exercises that require theprocessing of transactions through the particular process. Page 3 of 3