2.1 Simplified data structures
In the past, classic SAP systems that do not have S/4HANA functionalities used, and still do use, many different database tables that store diverse information from Financial Accounting and Controlling as well as from other modules. As part of month-end and year-end closing activities, this information, which is recorded in tables, has to be regularly compared and reconciled. The goal is to be able to create and analyze evaluations that are as redundancy-free as possible and that are meaningful for management and important decision-makers in the company. Data warehouses (e.g., BW/BI systems) or other external reporting tools are frequently used for evaluation purposes.
Figure 2.1 illustrates the relationships between the reconciliation activities of the various Controlling and Financial Accounting modules that are required in a classic SAP system.
Figure 2.1: Reconciliation activities in Financial Accounting and Controlling without S/4HANA
S/4HANA points the way to simplifying the data structures and underlying processes just explained.
2.1.1 Table ACDOCA
With the development of in-memory technology, SAP was able to implement the idea of the universal journal. The in-memory technology of HANA databases allows fast data analysis and aggregation of large amounts of data in a short time. There is no need to replicate data; it can be transferred to the Business Warehouse (BW) with a simple extractor if this is already available.
This process is based on the above-mentioned universal journal, which is a table called ACDOCA that stores all information from Financial Accounting and Controlling for actual postings. It also contains field information from Asset Accounting and the Material Ledger. The universal journal has been available since version S/4HANA Finance 1503.
Information that was previously stored in various tables and documents is now collected centrally in this one table. In concrete terms, this means that almost all data of a posting is updated in only one line of the universal journal (see Figure 2.2).
Figure 2.2: Principle of the universal journal: table ACDOCA
There is no longer any need for separate reconciliation activity. The data is simply held in a central location and can be evaluated from there.
For requirements from (costing-based) Profitability Analysis (CO-PA), specific fields can be defined and created for the characteristics in the universal journal itself. Costing-based and account-based CO-PA can still be used in parallel. However, SAP’s strategic focus in recent times has clearly been on the development of account-based CO-PA. In some cases, functionalities from costing-based CO-PA have been transferred to this component. Instead of calling this developed result CO-PA or Profitability Analysis, SAP calls it Margin Analysis (CO-MA).
Individualization of table ACDOCA
Customer-specific fields can be added to table ACDOCA, such as those related to Profitability Analysis, Asset Accounting, General Ledger, or Material Ledger.
The introduction of S/4HANA also means that summary record tables are no longer needed: S/4HANA’s fast database technology makes these tables obsolete.
You will still find the document header information in parallel to table ACDOCA in the familiar tables, such as in the document header for accounting (BKPF) or in the CO object document header (COBK).
COBK or BKPF?
SAP’s current objective is to replace COBK with BKPF. In principle, this corresponds to the general harmonization of the FI and CO tables within SAP.
However, there may also be entries in table ACDOCA that do not have a reference to a document header. This is the case if the entries are not standard process entries (e.g., migration entries).
Table ACDOCA also forms the basis for all CO-relevant cost element information. This refers to both primary and secondary cost information; both cost types are mapped in S/4HANA via accounts in the system.
2.1.2 FI and CO tables no longer required
Figure 2.3 shows all summary record tables that will be eliminated with the introduction of the universal journal. You can still access these tables, but only via compatibility views, which display the data in the usual form. In the following, I will briefly explain the background.
Figure 2.3: Summary record tables to be dropped with S/4HANA
Another innovation in S/4HANA is the change in data selection logic from rows to columns. Whereas previously, individual posting lines were processed for data selections, in S/4HANA, selections are made at column level. This makes calling reports much faster and allows the data model to dispense with some tables. Nonetheless, in Controlling, you probably still want to query your familiar database tables. Furthermore, many Report Painter and Report Writer reports are programmed to access the existing tables. Therefore, the familiar tables for the eliminated summary records are still available as compatibility views and the data can be viewed and analyzed in them as before. For example, the view V_COEP corresponds to table COEP for CO line items.
Transaction SE16H is now also available for spontaneous database calls that were previously made with transaction SE16N, for example. If you use the transaction to query table COEP, the data is physically read from table ACDOCA.
SAP has used the compatibility views to adapt the accounting interfaces to the new data structures of S/4HANA. Programming that already exists can still be used and standard programs continue to work.
However, this solution will only be available for a certain period of time. SAP is already working on ensuring that data queries can access table ACDOCA directly.
Updating FI and CO line items in S/4HANA
Please note that in future, data entry will no longer take place in the specific FI and CO tables. Instead, the line items for the corresponding postings will be stored in table ACDOCA.
The index tables previously used in the Finance environment will also be eliminated with S/4HANA. Again, you can read the data with compatibility views. Figure 2.4 shows the index tables in detail.
Figure 2.4: Overview of the index tables to be dropped with S/4HANA
Other tables that will be replaced in the long term are:
- FAGLFLEXA: New General Ledger—line items
- COEP: CO line items—some value types cannot be updated to table ACDOCA yet, therefore COEP is still used with Release 1809 (as are COSP_BAK and COSS_BAK); value types 4 and 11 can already be updated to table ACDOCA
- ANEA, ANLC, ANLP: these are other tables in Fixed Asset Accounting
2.1.3 Conclusion about the universal journal
Table ACDOCA lays the foundation for easy data analysis and fast query capabilities.
It contains all data for internal and external reporting. With S/4HANA Finance, there is no longer a distinction between FI accounts and the well-known cost elements from SAP Controlling. The SAP software has been programmed to integrate the cost element information into the FI screen with immediate effect. With this decision, SAP has virtually made the reconciliation activities between FI and CO obsolete and developed an integrated accounting system as a true data basis. In Section 3.1, I will discuss the changes in cost elements in detail.
The following tables can also be used in SAP S/4HANA:
- Table BSEG for summarizations (open items, etc.).
- The classic Profit Center Accounting (EC-PCA) has not been changed and can be used as usual.
- The FI-SL tables, e.g., in Public or Joint Venture Accounting, are unchanged and work as before. However, with Release 1909, the business function JVA on ACDOCA is available.
- Costing-based CO-PA and the corresponding tables can still be used.
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