Q&A: Options for Analyzing Profitability in ECC and S/4 HANA

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Q: How do you move historical data of costing based COPA onto account based COPA in HANA?

A: This is actually fairly tricky as the two structures are not the same. You will probably need some form of custom development to assign the historical revenue lines and cost lines to the appropriate CO-PA segments unless you were already using account-based CO-PA prior to your migration to SAP S/4HANA.

Q: Is it necessary to have both cost based and account based COPA with S/4HANA?

A: You can use the two in parallel in S/4HANA. You make the settings at controlling area level. There are different use cases for the different approaches, so you need to look at your use of statistical conditions and costing conditions in costing-based CO-PA as you evaluate the use of account-based CO-PA in the universal journal.

Q: Can I use costing based COPA with S/4HANA?

A: Yes, you can use costing based CO-PA with S/4 HANA Finance. Note however, that at this point, it is not part of the Universal Journal, therefore if you have any reconciliation issues right now with the general ledger, they will still exist.

Q: By more field available in COPA, do you mean configurable COPA characterstics? If so, can't the same characteristics be found and reported on in HANA?

A: You can use the CO-PA characteristics you have always used to report in HANA. You might also want to consider using derivations to fill the CO-PA characteristics instead of waiting to settle or allocate at period close. Especially with customer projects you often have all the CO-PA characteristics from the sales order in the settlement rule and can thus fill the CO-PA characteristics as soon as an expense is posted to the project. From 1610 take this idea further and have time confirmations kick off a revenue recognition posting in parallel so that you don't need to wait for results analysis at period close.

Q: S/4 requires account based PA to be activated.  Can we run costing based profitability analysis on S/4?  What are the limitations?

A: You don't have to activate account-based CO-PA in S/4 but it makes sense to do so if you want to make sure that all relevant journal entries are assigned to CO-PA dimensions. Bear in mind that if you are used to costing-based CO-PA only record types B (direct postings), F (invoices), C and D (allocations and settlement) are captured in the universal journal. The others are statistical e.g. order entry and don't result in journal entries. SAP plans to gradually address some of these differences.

Q: What are the specific limitations in S4 HANA COPA 1605 or 1610 at this point ? Anything done to bring historical data (Costing Based - after migration)?

A: CO-PA in S/4HANA only covers the equivalent of record types B, F, C and D. It is still not possible to bring historical data from costing-based CO-PA into the universal journal after migration, since the journal entries for invoices etc are typically at a different level of granularity (generally the material has been removed from the BSEG to save space and so we cannot derive the CO-PA segments during/after migration.

Q: Why would a company want to use costing based COPA in Simple Finance?

A: You might want to continue to use costing-based CO-PA if you have statistical conditions e.g. for freight costs or bonuses and want to perform top-down allocations based on these key figures. You might also want to use it if you are running actual costing via material ledger and want to update the cost component split using transaction KE27.

Q: We decided to stop using PCA.  Have you ever helped companies turning off their PCA? Any tips or advices for us?

A: If you have stopped using PCA, then the real challenge is whether you have captured all the master and transnational data assignments that were previously going to profit centers, to some other object. I certainly have helped organizations to restructure their PCA assignments using profit center reorganizations, but in your case the important question to ask is: what are you using as a replacement to PCA, and has everything been recaptured accordingly.

Q: For intercompany profit analysis (we need to sometime include \ exclude them from reporting); is COPA the right approach?

A: COPA is not normally used as a consolidation tool because it does not automatically handle intercompany eliminations and profit in inventory. However, if (in configuration), you have mapped intercompany accounts (or intercompany condition types) to separate value fields in CO-PA, then you can exclude these value fields from CO-PA reports.

Q: Is SAP going to come up with a Migration Step to moving Historical Data from Costing based to Account Based? I would imagine 90%  of SAPs clients all use Costing Based COPA but the push to HANA which is Account Based is very strong...

A: We are currently focusing on closing functional gaps such as additional quantities, statistical conditions, order entry and plan to look at historical data later.

Q: What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of each of those allocations approaches?  Differences/Similar?

A: It is difficult to compare both allocation methods directly, because they serve different purposes. or example, you will only need to use Cost Center Allocations to CO-PA, for costs that have been posted to a cost center. This is not the case with every cost item in your income statement. Therefore, you can use TDD to "allocate" costs (and revenue) that have been posted to other COPA characteristics (think - plant, profit center, customer group, etc.) and have these values allocated to lower characteristics. In summary, both allocation methods are not mutually exclusive.

Q: Is there a system and or technical limit to the number of characteristics and key figures in COPA?

A: The number of characteristics is limited to 50 because certain external interfaces still check this limit. The number of key figures is limited to 200. The number of accounts is unlimited.

Q: Can we use costing and account-based CO-PA simultaneously?

A: Yes, you can activate both options simultaneously. There is no real disadvantage of doing this, as most postings to CO-PA will update note methods simultaneously. Note however, that if you have both options activated, then 2 sets of tables will be updated with values – table CE1XXXX (where XXXX is your operating concern) will be updated for costing based CO-PA and table COEP for the account based COPA table.

Q: Can CO-PA be used to support Plant Level reporting for the 5xxxx accounts where/when cost centers are not utilized?  Same product produced at multiple plants, so cannot derive from Profit Centers.

A: Normally the 5XXXXX accounts (which are usually the consumption accounts) are not normally reported in Costing based CO-PA. This is because these accounts, when added together (i.e. consumption of raw materials and receipt of finished goods) usually net off as the production order variance. This production order variance is what is reported in Co-PA, so on a whole it does reconcile. Note that the reason that you cannot easily capture these accounts in Co-PA is because there already is a Cost object (e.g. Production Order) allocated to these accounts and you cannot have two real CO objects assigned to a posting.

Q: Will COPA in S4 Finance post COGS by cost component at time of goods issue?

A: Yes it will. Effectively the logic is that the goods issue (delivery) is assigned to CO-PA dimensions and then additional configuration is used to break out the COGS to a number of sub accounts that represent the various cost components.

Q: Is the capability of doing COPA realignments available with S4 HANA?

A: Yes the realignment function is available from S/4HANA 1610. You should be able to find the relevant EKT material on the SAP site.

Q: For S/4, I've read that it's recommended to use account-based CO-PA. What is different in S/4 that makes this recommended?

A: You should definitely use account-based CO-PA to include the CO-PA characteristics in the universal journal. You might want to use costing-based CO-PA in addition for certain use cases. 

Q: How many characteristics can one use in cost based and count based for optimal performance?

A: You can use up to 50 characteristics since both approaches use the CE4XXXX table. From a performance point of view it is the complexity of your derivations that will drive performance. 

Q: What's the biggest problem with S/4HANA that you've encountered clients to have?

A: It really depends on the situation that the client is coming from and what they are trying to achieve (greenfield, brownfield, Central Finance, etc).

Q: Regarding your answer for Costing based COPA - does the CE1XXXX still exist after migration? I thought its available only thru compatibility view and it wont be possible to write data to it.

A: The migration doesn't touch CE1XXXX. It will still be there. Obviously it won't be updated any more if you stop using costing-based CO-PA. Ce4XXXX is used in both cases (and the number of characteristics is always the same.

Q: When would be planning supported in S4HANA (If not already :) ? Is there out of the box COPA reporting / planning available thru S4 HANA (embedded) BPC, similar to Profit Center / Cost Center planning?

A: SAP BPC optimized for S/4HANA already supports cost center planning, cost center planning, project/order planning and the planning of market segments (ie all the P&L dimensions). From 1610 we have added a simple sales planning (quantity times price). If you activate SAP BPC you can also use the standard reports to display actuals, plan/actuals etc. With 1610 you have the first CDS-based reports that don't require an embedded BW and can write plan data to the ACDOCP table.

Q: What is the difference between using the COPA Realignment Tool, and using the Profit Center Reorganization tool?

A: The COPA Realignment tool is for changing historical data, when a field assignment was initially incorrect. For Profit Center Reorganization, this is when the business structure has legitimately been changed and you want the new profit center to be assigned to the relevant master and transactional data going forward.

Q: In S4 Finance, does every P&L entry to the universal ledger have a profitability segment?

A: No the logic is much as before. Salaries, depreciation, materials etc are usually posted to a cost center and then flow through activity postings to the manufacturing orders and then settlement to CO-PA. Revenues and expenses can be captured on orders/projects and then settled to CO-PA. There is a new ACCAS and ACCASTY field in the universal journal that shows whether the account assignment is KS (for cost center), OR (for order) or EO (for profitability segment). In addition you can use derivation to replace some settlements and allocations so you might have marketing expenses that are being posted initially to a cost center and then using a derivation rule to update e.g. the region in CO-PA or material expenses being posted to a project where a derivation rule is also filling the customer/product/region etc using the information in the settlement rule.

Q: From business point of view; how do you explain the different between COPA and material ledger and where it overlaps?

A: CO-PA is for profitability reporting in multiple dimensions such as customer, product, region, etc. material Ledger is for actual costing of products. As with most other areas with SAP these two modules can be integrated (if you want). For example, in Co-PA, when you make a sale of a make-to-stock product, it is usually done at a standard cost of sale. If you have material ledger, you can revalue the standard cost of the product to actual, and you can "feed" this actual cost into COPA, so that you get an actual cost of sale.

Q: How many statistical cost objects can you have in one entry?

A: The basic logic in transactions such as KB11 doesn't change so you might have a "real" posting to a cost center and statistical postings to two additional orders/projects.

What's new is the derivation logic in CO-PA where "real" postings to cost centers, orders, projects etc can update statistically to the CO-PA dimensions. These won't be visible in legacy reports such as Ke30 and KE24 which only read "real" CO-PA dimensions, but the derived dimensions will be visible in the new reports delivered with S/4HANA and S/4HANA Finance.

Q: How does S/4HANA address planning…will ACDOCA only include actuals or planning as well (CO PLANNING)?

A: From 1610 there is a new table for planning ACDOCP which has a similar structure to ACDOCA (though less fields). You can either update this using SAP BPC optimized for S/4HANA (formerly known as integrated business planning) or you can write plan data into it using your own interface or and excel upload. As time goes on, SAP plans to switch all CO objects (e.g. production orders, maintenance objects) to update ACDOCP and make this table the "single source" of planned data.

Q: Is there any utility/tool available or being developed that could enrich the Cost Base COPA data before migration. Could it be achieved by creating the secondary cost elements and do reposting before migration?

A: As far as I know there is no standard tool available but only custom development. The challenge with all repostings is that a lot of the data isn't available. It is common to remove e.g. the material from the FI tables so you might only have one revenue line in FI and hundreds in costing-based CO-PA. We then cannot "invent" material lines that were removed/summarized in the original posting. You will also have issues with settlement and allocation documents where you will credit e.g. cost center, debit one reconciliation object (AO) and then potentially write thousands of debit lines to costing-based CO-PA if you allocate to many materials. Again it is hard to derive this when the original CO document only has two lines.

Q: Since you mentioned ACDOCP - what else will planning be added in to this Universal Planning table?

A: It will gradually expand to cover what we now understand as general ledger planning, cost center planning, project planning etc that are all period-based and the "object-based" plans that you do for projects, sales orders, production orders, sales orders, etc. Take the example of a production order where we currently have a full cost estimate in the CKIS but then save by removing much detail and updating COSP/COSS.  In future it is intended to write what you see today in the production order under itemization into the ACDOCP table. In this way you will be gradually merging the Annual Budget style plans with the highly operational object based plans.