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I have to admit, this question sounds stupid, but the experience I’ve made shows, that there is not always a common understanding about this. So it’s nothing new I want to write about today, it’s just to explain some details.
The main reason for some diffuse areas is the flexibility SAP provides. I guess you have already expected this response …
In general the common sense explanation is that a Contact Person is a Person working for an Organization (Customer or Prospect). 
However SAP is very flexible. Different types of Business Partners are supported

  • Organizations
  • Persons
  • Groups

Persons could be Accounts (individual Accounts) or Contact Persons. In principle they could also be both. It’s also possible that one Contact Person belongs to several Accounts.

There are 3 criteria classifying a Business Partner as Contact Person

  • Create the Business Partner as Contact Person via the Create Contact Person application
  • The Role “Contact Person”
  • The Relationship “Contact Person for …” the Business Partner has.

At the end the most important criteria to characterize a Contact Person is the relationship “is Contact Person of” a Person has with an Account.
However it is possible to create a Contact Person using the Create-Screen for Contact Persons, but you are not forced to create a Contact Person relationship immediately.
Many customers like this option to create Contact Persons without Relationship – You know this Person works for a company but you do not know for what company.

Impact on Search

Therefore the Search-Page for Contact Persons will not only find Contact Person Relationships but also Contact Persons without Contact Person Relationships.
A side-effect of this flexibility is that you can find this Business Partner in the Search for Contact Persons and in the Search for Accounts.
One Business Partner of type Person can have multiple relationships and therefore if you search for Contact Persons you can also find multiple entries with the same Business Partner ID.

Contact Search
With Note 1117424: Contact Person-role not created for Contact Persons
 it is possible to assign the Role “Contact Person” automatically if the Business Partner gets created. This is sometimes useful to better differentiate between Contact Persons and Individual Accounts.

Impact on Merge Functionality

“Is it possible to merge different Contact Persons in CRM Web UI?” Even this question is not that easy as it seams to be.
The answer: You can merge different Contact Persons, but you can’t merge different Contact Person Relationships.
This will be done via the Merge-Functionality for Accounts. In principle you merge two different Individual Accounts and all relationships (also the Relationship “… is Contact Person for”) will get transferred to the Master Account.
The functionality therefore is not available within the Contact Search but the Account Search.

Remark:
Another option to merge Contact Persons is via the Duplicate Popup for Contact Persons.
The Popup is triggered for the Contact Overview Page if a new Contact Person is created or an existing Contact Person changed.

Features in CRM 7.0

With CRM 7.0 there are two new small but useful features related to the Contact Person.

  • Time-dependency of Contact Person Relationship
  • Quick-Create of Contact Person

Time-dependency of Contact Person Relationship

Internal and external flexibility affects also the relationship to the Contact Person. Therefore “Time-dependency for Contact Person Relationship” is supported in CRM 7.0.
Two Assignment-Blocks for Contact Persons

Two new Assignment-Blocks are available to see the currently valid Contact Persons and the currently invalid Contact Persons.

Quick-Create of Contact Person 

Contact Person Quick-CreateContact Person Quick-Create 

During the creation of an Opportunity, Activity, etc. the user assigns an Account (Customer, Prospect). Now he also wants to assign the related Contact Person but this Contact Person is not yet available in the system. Now it’s easy to create this Contact Person (including the relationship to the current Account) without leaving the Object you are editing.

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7 Comments

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  1. Vijay Vijayasankar
    On top of all of this, no one business partner should be created as contact person for more than one channel partner. If you do that, and then you login as the contact person – SAP shouts at you since “my company” view cannot uniquely determine which account should be displayed. Is this treated differently in 7.0?
    (0) 
      1. Vijay Vijayasankar
        Thanks Arno. Do you know if there is a plan to change this at some point from 1: 1 to 1 : n? In real life, one person can represent more than one channel partner.

        Cheers
        Vijay

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        1. Arno Meyer Post author
          Hello Vijay!
          A change from 1: 1 to 1 : n is (as far as I know) not intended – at least also not for the current Enhancement-Pack of CRM 7.0.
          Best regards
          Arno
          (0) 
  2. L. Richter
    Hi Arno,

    Thanks for writing the blog, it is absolutely usefull. Just one remark: In your blog you mentioned “The Popup is triggered for the Contact Overview Page if a new Contact Person is created or an existing Contact Person changed.”

    For a customer I am using the internal duplicate check functionality (within SAP CRM 7.0. It is a real advantage to create contacts directlty from a (corporate) account. Unfortunately we noticed that the duplicate check is not triggered while creating a contact directly from an (corporate) account. Probably they will have to create a contact person seperately and assign it manually to the corporate account…

    Personally I think that the (duplicate) check should be there also. Do you know if this is the normal/standard SAP behaviour? Don’t you think the duplicate check should be triggered?

    Kind regards,

    Luc

    (0) 
    1. Arno Meyer Post author
      Hello Luc!
      In principle you are right and I’m sure the duplicate check can be triggered here as well.
      From a process perspective it a bit difficult. The user can see all the contact persons assigned to this single account already. If there is already one “Max Mustermann” assigned to this customer the user would rather notice this and not create an additional “Max Mustermann” for this Customer. If he does this he is most likely sure that this is really a different person.
      However if there is no “Max Mustermann” assigned to this Account and he creates one new “Max Mustermann” there might be already a different Contact Person with this name in the system.
      It is not the typical case that one person is contact person for different companies. In addition the basis for this duplicate check is not that good as for this Contact Quick-Create only First Name and Last Name can be used for the Duplicate Check (there are no address data you create via the Contact Quick-Create).
      If users create Contact Persons via the “Quick-Create”, they usually want to do this very quickly and without any interruptions coming from the duplicate check.
      Best regards
      Arno
      (0) 

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