Working with Business Partners


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Create business partners in SAP S/4HANA

The Business Partner Approach in SAP S/4HANA


See what Sally has to say about business partners in SAP S/4HANA:
See the following video to learn more about the transaction codes used to maintain customers and vendors:

Simplification Item S4TWL - Business Partner Approach

A screenshot is shown of item S4TWL, the Business Partner Approach.

In the simplification item catalog, simplification item S4TWL - Business Partner Approach contains a link to SAP note 2265093 - S4TWL - Business Partner Approach, which describes the business partner approach used in SAP S/4HANA. In this note, all relevant information can be found that a customer needs to check related to business partners when doing a system conversion to SAP S/4HANA.

The Business Partner Category

Customers and suppliers are represented as business partner, which are created with a business partner category (person, organization or group).

When a business partner is created, the Business Partner Category must be selected. Business partners can be categorized as a person, a group, or as an organization. A group represents a shared living arrangement, like a married couple, or an executive board. An organization represents units such as a company, a department of a company, or an association.

The business partner category determines the fields that are available for data entry in the business partner master record.

The link between a business partner and the business areas where this business partner is useable is realized via a role concept. A business partner role corresponds to a certain business area or context where this business partner can be used (for example business area Sales or business area Procurement). Possible roles are, for example, Customer (relevant for sales processes), FI Customer (relevant for accounts receivable accounting), or Vendor (relevant for procurement processes).

Having multiple roles ensures that the relevant master data for the various processes in which a business partner can be involved, can be recorded correspondingly in its master record. For example: when the customer-related roles are maintained for a business partner, this business partner can be used in the order-to-cash process and can act for example as a sold-to party.

From a technical perspective, the configuration (/customizing) object that is used to control customers and vendors in SAP ERP, the so-called account group, still exists in SAP S/4HANA and is still needed. Specific functionality is still depending on this account group. An example is the determination of the relevant partner roles (partner functions) for sales documents. A specific connection between the business partner master records and the customer/vendor objects has to be set up in the SAP S/4HANA system. This is called Customer Vendor Integration (CVI).

Customer Vendor Integration (CVI)

Customer and vendor masters are replaced by business partner master records.

The Customer Vendor Integration (CVI) component ensures that the customer and vendor master data tables are updated automatically after a business partner is created or changed in the system.

A prerequisite for an SAP ERP to SAP S/4HANA conversion project is that all customer and vendor master records in the system have to be converted to business partners. It is recommended, but not mandatory, that the business partner ID and the customer/vendor ID are the same.

Limitations of having separate customer and vendor master records (which is the situation in ERP 6.0):

  • Only one single address can be stored per master record.
  • It is not possible to maintain both a vendor and a customer relationship for the a real-world entity in ONE master record (no role concept across customers and vendors within one master record).
  • No persons (B2C) can be maintained.
  • No time-dependency can be maintained.

Possibilities that the business partner (BP) master record offers (as used in SAP S/4HANA):

  • General data for a business partner is shared across different roles (like customer and vendor).
  • One business partner can contain data for multiple roles; for example, customer and vendor (supplier).
  • One business partner can have multiple addresses.
  • Time-dependency is supported for object attributes and relationships.
  • Business partners offer a harmonized architecture across SAP’s product portfolio.

IDocs or BAPIs for customer and/or vendor creation that do not call the CVI function CVI_EI_INBOUND_MAIN cannot be used any more.

Customer Vendor Integration (CVI): Conversion Steps

See the following video to learn about the conversion steps of CVI:

Impact on other SAP Systems and their Interfaces

When looking at the impact of using business partners in SAP S/4HANA on other SAP systems and their interfaces, it is possible to state the following: there is no specific impact on custom code. The custom code call to the previous (and now outdated) transactions does not necessarily need to be adapted, as there is an automatic redirection.

Examples of still active business partner interfaces are shown, like the CIF.

The interfaces containing business partners mentioned on the slide still work in an SAP S/4HANA side-by-side implementation.

Any external application used to create or update the business partner master data must call the remote function call (RFC) function module RFC_CVI_EI_INBOUND_MAIN.

It is possible to navigate to the BP transaction from an external application by calling the BUP_PARTNER_MAINTAIN function module.

Create a new Business Partner Master Record

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