2.1 Material master structure
Like most information stored within SAP’s transactions, the material master is nothing more than a database that has been programmed with an aesthetic visual representation. This visually pleasing display consists of several screens, each containing information and parameter settings relevant to the screen’s title. Furthermore, the information on each screen is sub-classified into more specific groupings, which I’ll refer to as an information set. The example below (see Figure 2.1) is a picture of the MRP 1 screen, an essential component to material planning, procurement, and production functionality. This screen consists of some general header data: the material, the material description, technical information, the plant and the revision. It also consists of four information sets: General Data, MRP procedure, Lot size data, and MRP areas.
Figure 2.1: MRP 1 screen
Each element of any given information set is called a field. In the previous example (see Figure 2.1), the information set General Data contains the fields Base Unit of Measure, MRP Group, Purchasing Group, ABC Indicator, Plant specific material status, and Valid From (regarding plant-specific material status).
Each field is also stored “behind the scenes” in a table within the SAP database. The table contains other fields with similar functions. SAP has also designed relationship structures into the program which allow certain tables to communicate with one another and drive functionality. As you progress in your understanding of the material master, you will want to understand those relationships in great detail. Not only will an understanding of those relationships help you to understand material master functionality, it will also help you to capitalize on customized reporting possibilities.
Each table and field is represented by a technical name in the database. In the example below (see Figure 2.2) a technical description of the field MRP type is displayed. Here you can see the technical name of the field (DISMM) and the table (MARC) in which it is stored. We will discuss more about technical information and how to access it later in the chapter.
Figure 2.2: Technical information – table and field name
Use table relationships for customized reporting
Not all of the information you may want is available to you in a standard SAP report. Once you’ve gained an understanding of tables, fields, and their relationships with one another in the material master, explore transaction SQVI. It is a report builder where you can create customized reports on most interrelated fields of the material master (and other transactions for that matter) by joining their respective tables for the purposes of reporting.
Advanced tip: Use SQ01, SQ02, and SQ03 to share joined table reports
Transaction SQVI is a quick and handy tool for the individual end user to join tables in order to generate simple reports. I recommend SQVI to the beginner because of its simplicity. However, once you become confident with joining tables for ad hoc reporting I recommend using transactions SQ01, SQ02, and SQ03. These transactions allow the user to define information sets (table or collection of joined tables) and allow for more refinements to the selection criteria and output. Furthermore, an end user can define authorized user groups for these information sets so that customized reports can be shared and reproduced by any authorized user. SQVI limits the use of the defined table join to only the end user who created it.
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