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In any SAP projects one will always come across need for data / parameter that are customer specific but there is no standard SAP field where-in this can fit. On such occasions classification system is the standard SAP solution. SAP’s classification functionality is really very wide and it can support any type of unique requirement any customer might have but in reality we always find usage of classification for such requirement is not always the case. SAP consultants and now-a-days even customer IT managers (who are actually former SAP consultants, the days of IT managers without SAP background and the luxury it provided to SAP consultants is long gone 🙁 ) are totally averse to usage classification system for fulfilling such requirements. To put it more bluntly, there is a distaste or hostility to classification system based solution approach. Major reason for this is not difficult to pinpoint

  • From a SAP consultant perspective data handling through classification system is a pain with its complexity of link tables. The presence of class number and the need to link multiple table to fetch data is a irritation which they avoid.
  • From IT manager or end user perspective, the classification screen itself is not user friendly and particular if more than one type of class is there, then end users get confused easily

Due to this a powerful tool that can take care of all such customer specific requirements in a standard way is phenomenally under utilized. Worst solution for such requirements is the usage of some unrelated SAP field which not utilized at that moment of time the requirement is solutionized and the knowledge is definitely lost over time on why that field is used for that purpose etc. There has been comical situations that used to happen particularly during migration, that data is available in some field and when we try to find the owner of that data, every one will turn to others and no one will know what it is?, why it is there? and tends to get ignored and then one fine day an enhancement or an interface will break because a unrelated field need to have one information and it is not migrated.

Recently we had a  requirement to send material master information to multiple non-SAP systems through middleware PI. PI should receive the target non-SAP system details from SAP MDG system, hence we proposed the standard solution of using classification to capture the target systems. The target system can one or many too, so classification system fits the bill. But the solution was objected by both middleware team and as well end users. Middleware team objected that classification means they have to handle two idocs MATMAS & CLFMAS and given they have managed the acknowledgement from non-SAP systems too it is very complex for them. In case of end users as I had pointed out earlier, assigning a class, then updating the characteristic value to identify the target system is too cumbersome and laborious (Is it really 🙂 ?, but who are we to ask that question), they only want radio buttons against each target system. So here goes the classification system and in comes a new custom development.

Knowing that in this is age of HANA, HANA & HANA everywhere any enhancement to core SAP functionality is not going to get noticed, I am still making some recommendations

  • The classification screen should be made look like tabs and each tab should have characteristics from one class only
  • Characteristics that don’t have value, user should have ability to hide/display them. This will make it less cluttered in the class is big with too many characteristics
  • Make one table for each class type and make querying on classification table easier
  • Make classification data as an additional segment to idocs. For example MATMAS idoc should have a classification segment instead of a separate CLFMAS idoc

Even if SAP focuses on changes to classification system screen display and making data entry there easier from end user perspective like my first two recommendations, it will definitely increase the usage of classification system functionality. Forget the SAP consultants, they will handle complexity as long customer agrees to the solution.

Will this be heard ? 😏

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6 Comments

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  1. Ritesh Dube

    Thanks Ramesh Babu Nagarajan,

    I am big fan of classification system and I have same experience on this front, when ever you propose a solution involving classification , every single person will try to put you down , even when they have no experience & knowledge on it.

    I recommend , put this thought at idea place and add that link here in document.

    I would be fist one to support your idea.

    Thanks for sharing it with group.

    Regards

    Ritesh

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  2. Paul Hardy

    In my company we now have a policy of using characetristics instead of Z fields, but I bet that is rare.

    Have you heard of the “configuration workgroup” who hold their annual conference on Marco Island in the USA eah year?

    This is free to join, and the idea is that many SAP customers together can suggest improvements to the variant configuration / classification system in SAP and get listened to.

    This has worked very well thus far, if you want your ideas to progess I would advise looking at the following link

    http://www.configuration-workgroup.com/

    From a performance perspective reading characteristics is indeed (a lot ) worse than having a Z field in a standard table, but the day will dwan when all databases are in memory (is that a fanciful dreaming statement? I wonder) and then that whole argument vanishes.

    Cheersy Cheers

    Paul

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    1. Ramesh Babu Nagarajan Post author

      Thx for you comment Paul. Will join the configuration work group.

      On your point on performance, I think it is not relevant when Z-Fields are only created to hold information that are needed for reports, interfaces or even to drive user exit logic. In such case the volume of data will be small and definitely performance is not an issue there.

      Decision not use classification system mainly under these scenarios is due to sort of clumsiness of the classification view, displays this information and not having options like radio button or check box which users tend to prefer.

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