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Plant Level Partners for Purchasing via Business Partner Master Data

During my day to day interactions with various customers, a regular topic of discussion that keeps coming up in the Operational Procurement area is the concept of ordering partners.  In this blog, I’ll outline and explore the concept of supplier plant level partners in SAP S/4HANA using Business Partners (BP).

Plant level partners for procurement has been around for a very long time, many people know the concept of assigning this data in procurement contract (outline agreement) but they do not know that you can do this at the vendor level for general procurement.  This can assist the automatic assignment of partners and specific purchasing data that is relevant to a particular plant.

Let’s take a very common business scenario; a single supplier provides goods or services to multiple geographically different plants that are linked to the same Purchasing Org.  You need to define different parameters per plant but, as an organisation who wants to measure single supplier spend, you only want to create the Supplier once and have the flexibility to order from offices that are ‘local’ to these plants.  When an order is raised, the purchase order should be sent to the local office not the supplier’s main office and this can reduce lead times and improve local relationships.  Operational Procurement commonly refers to this as an ‘ordering address’.

To achieve this, functionality is assigned at a much lower level in the Business Partner than the purchasing organisation, we have the ability to assign specific partners that are only relevant to that plant.  Many partner functions can be used here but for the purpose of this blog, we will focus on the concept of an ordering address.

System setup prerequisites –

Setting up the Business Partner;

  • Steps contained in the Customer Vendor Integration (CVI) Cookbook should be considered
  • Applicable BP Roles – FLVN010 and FLVN01 and their associated field selections
  • BP grouping to be defined – these are linked to the vendor account groups in MM i.e. Supplier, Ordering Address and Payment Instructions are common
  • BP grouping number ranges
  • BP synchronisation control (covered in CIV cookbook)
  • Assign BP Groups to Vendor Account Group

Setting up Materials Management Vendor;

  • Supplier account groups and number ranges must be defined – VN and OA at the minimum
  • Partner schema is defined – SAP delivers standard L3 for this
  • Partner schema has OA defined as mandatory
  • Partner schema is assigned to the account groups
  • Permissible partner roles are assigned per account group
  • Customer Vendor Integration (CVI) sync must be already configured
  • Output condition control for Purchase Order (and RFQ if required) must be set to use the Ordering Address for the output
  • PO form should be designed to use the Ordering Address name and address to ensure consistency with the supplier (this is optional but I personally recommend)

How to set up in the Business Partner;

In BP, create the head/main office to represent the Supplier, make sure you select the correct grouping;

 

On the Vendor: Under the General Data tab, select the checkbox ‘plant relevant’ – this will tell the system there can be plant-level data for this BP;

 

Go to the Purchasing view – extend the relevant Purchasing Org.  Here you can maintain Purchasing Org specific values.  If you do maintain Purchasing Org level details, these with the exception of currency and payment terms will be overridden in the purchase order if you do maintain Plant specific values later;

 

Make a note of the created BP number.  In-display mode, you can see the system will assign the normal VN, OA, and PI as per the default Purchasing Org;

 

Now create the Ordering Address.  These only need address data so depending on your field selection Supplier role can be used, or you can define your own.  Make sure the Grouping is selected as Ordering Address or similar;

Note the BP number for later.

Now we need to assign the plant level partners to appropriate Purchasing Orgs.  Go into change mode of the original BP.  Select the supplier role and then purchasing data.  I am going to maintain for Purchasing Org 1710, Plant 1710 and Ordering Address 1000270.  Under the ‘Additional Purchasing Data’ tab select the create button;

 

On the pop-up, enter the plant and select the partner functions and if you want to have different parameters select purchasing data;

 

Now select the row and change button;

 

On the pop up enter the plant-specific settings you want.  Very handy if you have multiple plants with one purchasing org and need to have ERS or GR Based IV on at one site but not another;

 

In the Partner Roles Subrange tab now enter the ordering address to be used;

 

Once done save and then repeat as needed for each plant.

Check the WYT3 table to see if successful;

 

When creating a PO, once you enter a plant, this plant level partner settings will automatically default but the PO is still raised to the head office or main vendor.

 

Any other plant-specific purchasing settings entered will also default;

 

Obviously, this design is not a final and should only be used as a guide as there are many other fields that need to be considered, however with master data and configuration, customisation can be avoided.  This type of partnering can be used for many different partner types even Payment Instructions and Delivery Address.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope that it has been informative.

 

Follow notes/details;

10 Comments
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  • Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the detailed blog. Would you mind sharing your S/4 release levels?

    We are on S/4 10301 and if you input a different BP ID at the the plant partners level, the system overrides it back to the BP ID being changed. We have raised an SAP Support ticket on this but no response from SAP yet.

     

    Regards,

    Sushil.

    • Hi Sushil, I completed this based on S/4 10400.  That behavior you described I have not seen that occurring so if everything is standard follow up on your support ticket.

      Cheers

      Simon

  • Thanks for the great blog Simon.

     

    Nice to see some extended use of Business Partners as this is still an area that is under utilised and not well understood.

     

    Cheers, Roger

  • Hi Simon,

    Thank you for the information above.  We are going thru the steps to turn on Business Partners for our vendors in ECC (we are not yet moving to S4).  We have successfully transferred all our existing vendors to BPs, however we are missing some key fields.  Today we use the plant specific views (not VSR) in ECC along with the partnering by plant, however we can not find this data in the BP.  We are missing the Additional General Data section on the General Data tab that you are showing above.  Can you tell me how to turn on this section please?

    Many thanks,

    Tonya

    • Hello Tonya, sorry for the delay in reply.  I hope you have found the solution in the meantime.  To be honest I am not sure.  If you are still having issues I would raise a support ticket to check on the problem.  There are differences with BP from ECC and S/4.  I did not use BP in ECC in the past.

      Regards

      Simon

  • Hi Simon

    Thanks for the document.  I have been working on S/4HANA On Premise systems for a few years, and I am currently interested on what you can/cannot do in S/4HANA 1909.

    Ordering addresses other than vendors are mainly (or perhaps exclusively) of interest for communication purposes.

    The feature you present is very interesting, however it seems to work on condition that we keep using the old message control for outputs, and not the new S/4HANA output management (BRF+). According to SAP note 2836592 there is no plan to support purchase order outputs to partner functions other than Vendor (LF).

    This, in my opinion, is a big limitation, that has been there since 1511 OP. Any suggestion/idea on how to overcome this constraint (other than switching back to the old message control)?

    Thanks

    Gianmarco

    • Hello Gianmarco, yes this is a known limitation that you cannot use the new output management with OA partner types.  This is why I did not specify the new S/4HANA Output Management as a pre-requisite.  You are correct if you have a business requirement like I have listed, the NAST output management would need to be used.  SAP note 2344602 – covers the steps to revert if required.

      To overcome this issue it needs to be one where it is weighed up the benefits of the continued use of new functionality to the pain point that the proposed change is attempting to rectify.  This should then be validated with the business and then appropriate action changed.

      If you are interested in other capabilities what I shown here could be extended beyond output determination, for example – Outline Agreements.  You could extend this concept to the assignment of core business contract roles like – Site Contract Owner or Site Contract Representative.  These could be configured and then the BP assigned to the Outline Agreement at the plant level partner.  This is more important for non-Ariba customers who are using S/4HANA for Contract Management.

      Cheers

      Simon