Skip to Content
Author's profile photo Raghunathan Balasubramanian

S/4 HANA Business Partner – Partner Function Vs Partner Relationships

In S/4 HANA, the Business Partner (BP) model integrates the customer master and vendor master data under the Partner umbrella.

This gives the advantage of using the BP model for both customer relationship management and the ECC partner function features for transactions.

The Business Partner model is from SAP CRM whilst the Customer Master & Vendor Master model is from ECC.

The integration allows for performing both the CRM and ECC related activities in a single platform.

One feature that is interesting to note is the Partner Functions and Partner Relationships.

In S/4 HANA Customer Vendor Integration (CVI) the CRM business partner model is combined with the customer/vendor master model of ECC.

In this document I would like to provide some general information on the partner relationship and the partner functions that might come handy when looking for data in the system and choosing one over the other depending on your requirement.


BP Relationships


This stems from the SAP CRM Business Partner Model where a partner relationship is established between two Business Partners based on a given criteria. A very common relationship in BP is Contact Persons (CP). There are however other relationships that can be applied like

“BBP002 – Has the Invoicing Party”

The table TBZ9 and TBZ9A contains the list of partner relationships configured for BP.


Tables pertaining to BP Relationship are listed below

Table Name Description
BUT050 BP relationships/role definitions: General data
TBZ9A BP Relationship Categories: Texts – Check table
TBZ9 BP relationship categories – Check Table
BUT051 BP Relationship: Contact Person Relationship
BUT052 BP Relationship: Addresses
BUT053 BP Relationship: Company Interest



In the SAP GUI Partner Relationships can be assigned as follows







Choose the required partner relationship from the relationship categories list. Then assign the corresponding partner ID in the relationship field as shown in Fig 4 below.


The partner relationship definition screen will look like the one shown below.


Any additional options with regards to the contact person can be added in this screen before saving the data.


The configured contact person relationship upon confirming options will appear as shown below


The partner Functions on the other hand is defined specific to Vendor or Customer level that is specific to the role of the partner i.e. Customer or Vendor. In the below example a partner function assignment for the TEST PARTNER created as a customer is shown.




There are several differences between Partner Relationship and Partner Function. A key distinction is that the relationship is independent of the Partner’s setup as a customer or vendor.


In the Customer Vendor Integration (CVI) feature of the S/4 HANA Business Partner model, the same partner can be extended to both customer and vendor roles thus making it possible to have entries in KNA1 as well as LFA1 tables apart from BUT000 table.


A key factor to note is that the partner function of the customer or supplier business partner is used in transaction operations like Sales Order creation, Purchase Order Invoicing etc.,



Assigned Tags

      You must be Logged on to comment or reply to a post.
      Author's profile photo Abdul Basit Kapoor
      Abdul Basit Kapoor

      Very well written. Thanks for the valuable document





      Author's profile photo RAJIB BANERJEE

      I understand the Ship To 2*282 is created as another BP with role as Customer . Is my understanding correct ?

      Author's profile photo Raghunathan Balasubramanian
      Raghunathan Balasubramanian
      Blog Post Author

      Yes, The Role is the BU_GROUP that will be assigned to the partner as the customer role. You will need both the company code and sales BU_GROUP assignments for the customer. The partner roles assigned get saved in BUT100 table for each role assignment you choose for the partner.


      Author's profile photo Ping Tong
      Ping Tong

      "A key factor to note is that the partner function of the customer or supplier business partner is used in transaction operations like Sales Order creation, Purchase Order Invoicing etc."

      Clear clarification! Partner function defines the relationship between business objects (e.g. a sales order) and partners; while partner relationship defines relationships between partners literally. Is there any plan for SAP to use a generalized relationship to unify partner function and partner relationship?

      Obviously, partner function has both similarity with BP role and partner relationship; as far as I understand, partner function can also be regarded as scenario-specific (in the scenario of a business object) partner role the related partner. To expand this topic, is it feasible to unify the use of business partner role, partner relationship and partner function? (just a possibility discussion from technical point of view)


      Author's profile photo Raghunathan Balasubramanian
      Raghunathan Balasubramanian
      Blog Post Author

      This is a good point. The three have specific purpose.

      Roles define the specific partner attributes and front-end views. So a partner without assignment of the specific customer or supplier role, the partner functions won't take effect. As you mentioned the partner functions are specific for transactions related to the partner while the role is what opens the partner to the specific options.

      If considered as a hierarchy BP Role takes precedence over Partner Functions and BP Relationships. When we tested a supplier created in the ME21N to create a purchase order, we identified that the partner function definition of a supplier's billing, shipping and delivery is important over relationship. Relationship seems to take effect only after the transaction document is created (sales order or purchase order).

      Since the CVI approach combines the ECC customer/vendor features with that of a CRM partner, I think it will be possible to unify the three but will take a lot of configurations in place prior to making it work seamlessly. Maybe part of a future SAP release.....

      kind regards


      Author's profile photo Mariana Flores Quero Diaz
      Mariana Flores Quero Diaz

      Hello Raghu,

      With this I understand that partner functions are the ones that are really relevant for transactional objetcs (sales order for example).

      There's no way to make BP relationships relevant for transactional objects right?

      You mention that "Relationship seems to take effect only after the transaction document is created (sales order or purchase order)." What do you mean by effect? In a transactional level where can we see this relationships for example in a invoice or other document (beside BP transaction)?

      Thank you for your great document,

      Mariana F.

      Author's profile photo Raghunathan Balasubramanian
      Raghunathan Balasubramanian
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Mariana


      Thank you for the feedback and the question. Wen you create a transaction document (sales order/purchase order, etc., ) during the time of creation the partner functions that have been assigned to the partner will be used for assigning the partner functions like sold-to party/invoicing party/ship-to party/ etc.,

      After saving the same transaction document, you can assign the relationships associated to the partner like contact person for example. This seems to be possible only after saving the order and not at the time of creating the order. I hope this helps.


      kind regards



      Author's profile photo Adi Mogilevsky
      Adi Mogilevsky

      Anyone know if any advanced developments have been completed in versions 1909 and 2020 in this area?

      Author's profile photo Nina Udovicic
      Nina Udovicic

      Hi there,

      is it possible to assign BP relationship through migration cockpit tool?



      Author's profile photo Raghunathan Balasubramanian
      Raghunathan Balasubramanian
      Blog Post Author


      The standard templates for EN Customer and EN_Vendor from 1610 and 1709 don't seem to have the relationships tab as default.

      The standard templates contain worksheets focused on customer master and vendor master objects from ECC. When loaded, the customer or vendor file will create the partner in the background anyway but it is not explicitly available in the standard template.

      if you need to leverage on this, it is best to create your own cockpit object using LTMOM. It will be better if you have version 1709 for this purpose instead of 1610 as the LTMOM features are limited in 1610 version.

      The RDS template using SAP Data Services for CVI does have the relationship option built-in. So if you have on-premise S4HANA, then you can opt to use the SAP Data Integrator free license to leverage the RDS template for data migration.

      kind regards


      Author's profile photo Vinay Pawate
      Vinay Pawate

      Raghu - Your nice blog clarifies BP Relationships vs Partner functions. Instead of using BP Relationships if we were to leverage BP additional addresses - would you pls clarify  additional BP addresses vs Partner functions ?

      With the S/4 1809 release  multiple assignment functionality - my understanding is :  you can potentially link all the below three to one Business Partner

      • ERP Customer with Ship-To account group ,
      • ERP Customer with Bill-To account group
      • ERP Customer with Payer account group

      If this is possible - what additional value does Partner functions functionality provide.

      (Refer Note : 2706243 - Multiple Assignments of Customers/Suppliers to Business Partners in SAP S/4HANA 1809)

      Author's profile photo Asha Prasanna
      Asha Prasanna

      Hello Raghu, A requirement in my project says - For a Vendor, there are 3 partner functions: ordering address, vendor number and invoicing party-  all three will be having different addresses.

      While creating the BP, we will have to create three different BPs for each of the Partner function. But, is it possible to not extend the BPs for ordering address (OA) and invoicing party (PI)  to 'FI vendor FLVN00' role ? As the client doesn't foresee any FI postings to the OA and PI - partner functions.

      When I tried- to assign a BP (gen role) OA as the partner function to the BP (gen role and FLVN01, FLVN00) Vendor role - then the system is not allowing me. It seems that to assign any partner function, the corresponding BP must exist in LFA1. So does that mean I have to extend the FLVN00 role to OA also ?

      Author's profile photo Pau Hernandez
      Pau Hernandez

      Hello Raghunathan Balasubramanian,

      Thanks for your blog.


      I am working with BP roles and I don't understand why description doesn't show up... Do you know if something could be missing?



      Many thanks,

      KR, Pau