Discovering Supplier Master Data Creation and Maintenance Methods


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Create a supplier by copying an existing one.
  • Add the supplier (Fin. Accounting) role to an existing business partner.
  • Add additional company codes to the supplier.
  • Display changes to a vendor.
  • Determine the 4-eyes master data maintenance principle.

Master Data Management Methods

Jennifer is now interested in how to optimize the creation and management of the supplier database.

SAP S/4HANA provides various methods to create, edit, and control the quality of the supplier master data efficiently. For instance, it is possible to copy an existing vendor and use it as a model. It is also possible to extend a supplier to several companies so that all of them can use it, each with its own individual settings. In addition, it is possible for an authorized user to proceed to a mass upload or modifications of the supplier master records. Let’s review the different options.

Copy an existing vendor

One of the easiest ways to create a new supplier is by selecting an existing business partner with similar characteristics and then copying it. As all the settings of the model business partner are copied over to the new supplier master record, they must be reviewed carefully to determine which settings to keep or which have to be updated.

For example, the name and address of the new supplier are settings that likely need an update whereas the roles or the payment terms can be probably maintained without modifications.

Let's review how to copy a supplier.

Duplicate Supplier Check

SAP S/4HANA offers you the possibility of activating a functionality to check for duplicate business partners based on the address data index. When this customization is in place, a pop-up window will inform the user creating a business partner that a potential duplicate business partner already exists in the database, determined by the percentage of similitude between the addresses entered.

From this pop-up window, it is possible to access the potential duplicate supplier for review or to continue with the creation process.

SAP S/4HANA also provides analytical reports to help the user monitor the overall data quality and the percentage of duplicate suppliers in the database. By regularly monitoring these reports, you can identify and resolve any data quality issues proactively.

For example, in the case of mergers and acquisitions, it is crucial to identify and manage duplicate suppliers between the two organizations.

Additionally, if there is a high turnover in the accounts payable staff or high numbers of temporary employees, which often means that knowledge of the system and the procedures are poor, this functionality will be useful to improve data quality.

Upon request of the compliance and audit departments, the duplicate supplier check functionality can help improve compliance with regulatory requirements and internal controls.

By ensuring that duplicate suppliers are not created within the system, the business can reduce the risk of fraud, non-compliance penalties, and audit complications.

Additional Company Codes for a Supplier

One of the main benefits of the Business Partner concept in SAP S/4HANA is the ability to unify and share the general data of the partner while providing flexibility for each company that carries business with it to individually customize its key settings.

In practical terms, this means that if a supplier is used by two or more companies it should only be created once in the database (therefore, there will be only one supplier ID number). Then, each company dealing with this supplier will have to be assigned to its master record, and the relevant individual settings will have to be performed - for example, the reconciliation account or the payment terms agreed between the two parties.

Jennifer is going to review now how a supplier can be attached to a new company code and then how its settings can be adapted to the needs of this new company.

Additional Roles for existing Business Partner

To simplify the creation and maintenance of business partners and provide a simplified overview of the business operations with any given third party, the recommended best practice is to create a unique business partner and assign to it as many roles as required.

For example, if a customer already exists in the database and over time it becomes a supplier, the procedure should be to add the new role ‘supplier’ to the existing business partner and not to create a new business partner.

Regarding suppliers, it is important to bear in mind that the requirements of the purchasing department and of the accounting department are managed through two distinct roles. Hence, most of the suppliers in SAP S/4HANA must be attached to these two separate roles, in addition to any other role to which the business partner might already be attached.

Let’s review with Jennifer how to add several roles to a business partner.

Supplier Modifications

In SAP S/4HANA, it is always possible to track modifications made to the supplier master record using the standard Display Changes to Vendors app. In this app, the user determines which master data is to be reviewed - for example, entering one or several vendor numbers, or the user ID that performed the changes.

Further selection criteria include whether general data, company code, and purchasing organization data are to be reviewed, and for which company codes or purchasing organizations. When the report is executed, it is possible to check when and by whom changes were made and what the changes consist of old and new values.

Jennifer is now going to view how vendor changes are tracked in the system. Let’s have a look with her.

4-Eyes Principle

Jennifer is aware that modifications to the vendors master records are very sensitive from a security standpoint. In fact, the internal control department of Bike Company has insisted on implementing a control ensuring that all vendor changes are approved by an authorized manager. How does she handle this demand in the system?

In SAP S/4HANA it is possible to configure ‘sensitive fields’ in the supplier master record that will trigger the supplier to be flagged for validation by a different, authorized, user to apply the 4-eyes validation principle to master data changes.

Until this validation is performed, the supplier will be blocked for any payment, thereby preventing any financial loss to the company. However, other transactions are still possible, such as entering new purchase orders or invoices. On the other hand, every time that the supplier is used, a warning will alert the user that validations are still pending.

In any case, a user can never approve their own vendor modifications.

This graphic summarizes the 4-eyes principle applied to supplier master data in SAP S/4HANA:

Supplier Mass Maintenance

Jennifer is now confident that changes to an individual supplier can be easily handled by the system. However, she wonders if there are any tools available to process simultaneously multiple suppliers, for instance if a new company joins the group and multiple suppliers must be authorized for it, or if a company decides to modify the payment terms for hundreds of its suppliers.

These requirements can be easily fulfilled by SAP S/4HANA: the system disposes of a standard application to carry out the mass upload of supplier master records, which can be used for example to upload data from a legacy system.

Additionally, another app is dedicated to performing mass changes to supplier master records. It allows the user to first select the suppliers to be modified, and then, which zones and values to update.

Typically, the authorization to use these Supplier Mass Maintenance apps is restricted to the Administration team, but the business users can be solicited to part-take in the mass maintenance process.

Assign Supplier to additional Company Code and Track Changes

Practice yourself using the interactive simulation to update business partner master company code settings and subsequently track changes.

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