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Author's profile photo Jakub Krolak

Using SAP BW characteristic attributes in SAP PaPM

SAP Profitability and Performance Management (PaPM) is a flexible solution due to its independency of any data models. PaPM can be integrated with the help of information functions such as Model Table, Model View, Model BW to various data sources such as SAP HANA Tables, Data Dictionary Tables, SAP BW aDSOs and so on.

Since I have mentioned SAP BW as possible data source, from SAP BW perspective, will it not be fantastic if PaPM will also make use and utilize more than just BW objects? Like for example, BW functionalities which are commonly used in SAP BW such as Attributes of InfoObjects?

Good news – PaPM does!

In this blog I will present how to use Attributes of InfoObjects by splitting the topic into two main parts:

  1. Attributes – quick and simple overview – could be helpful for users that don’t work in BW yet. Feel free to skip this part if you know what attribute of InfoObject means.
  2. How to use navigational attributes in PaPM – quick guide which will provide solution of using attributes.

1.   Attributes – quick and simple overview

Attributes in SAP BW are characteristics  that describe certain  properties for another  characteristic which has the “Master Data” property . Primarily used to describe objects such as materials, G/L accounts, cost centers, customers, etc. The attributes also provide additional information about characteristic which they are assigned to.

After reading this definition it is time for example to clear things out:

You have a material with number MT14.4365.A. And you cannot tell anything more than number (unless you are manufacturing this thing for 5 years ?). You don’t know what the type of this particular material is, in which material group it is, what the length/weight of it is and so on. But such properties like material type, material group, length, weight are intrinsic to this material and meaningful for your business data management, therefore they should be attributed to this material from the beginning (of business settings).

Any InfoObjects like characteristic, key figure and unit normally can be attributed to a characteristic in its „Attributes” tab. They can also be used in any info provider. But characteristic defined in SAP BW with property checkbox marked as Attribute only could only be used as an attribute – using it in info provider is not possible.


Fig. 1 Attribute only checkbox in BW Modeling Tools

Basically speaking, we can divide attributes into 2 types:

  • Display Attributes – are completely dependent on the main characteristic, they can only be presented in reporting tools with the main characteristic.
  • Navigational Attributes – these attributes act as “normal” characteristic at query level in reporting (filtering, restricting, etc. is possible).

Key figures are always display attributes, characteristics can act in both way: as display attribute or navigational attribute.

For tracking history/changes in assignment of attribute value to main characteristic Time dependency can be defined in SAP BW. It enables to maintain changing values of attributes based on time period. Key date will define what value it has to bring from the time dependent attribute table. I will describe time-dependent attributes and how to use them in the next blog post.

Attributes defined in SAP BW for characteristics can also be used in SAP PaPM. Display attributes in SAP PaPM are always available in the associated query of all kinds of functions (when viewed in Analyze) and can be added/display, if they are defined for particular characteristic.


Fig. 2 Adding attributes in a PaPM function (Analyze view)


Fig. 3 Displaying attributes in a PaPM function (Analyze view)

Just like display attributes, navigational attributes defined in SAP BW can also be used in the same way (through Analyze view) in PaPM. In addition to this functionality, user can add the navigational attributes to Model BW function. Since PaPM Model BW function has two sources: Environment / Business Warehouse, let me explain to you the difference with the behavior when adding navigational attributes.

In case of Model BW function, Environment as Model BW source: all the navigational attributes for main characteristic will be available to the functions that will use Model BW as input function. The flag Navigational attributes on has to be checked in the Model BW.


Fig. 4 Switching on “navigational attributes” in Model BW/Environment source

 After activation all the navigational attributes are added to function definition:


Fig.5 Model BW/Environment source definition with navigational attributes after activation

In case of Model BW function, Business Warehouse as Model BW source: only navigational attributes with checkbox Use navigational attributes in extraction switch on will be visible in PaPM function definition (ADSO defined in SAP HANA BW Modeling Tools).


Fig.6 Switching on “Use navigational attributes in extraction” in SAP HANA BW aDSO

Only navigational attributes marked as Use navigational attributes in extraction are added to function definition:


Fig.7 Model BW/Business Warehouse source definition with navigational attributes after activation

2.   Using navigational attributes from “Model BW” in SAP PaPM.

As mentioned before, when a navigational attribute is populated in Model BW function, it could be used by the succeeding function that uses Model BW as input function. This means that navigational attributes behave like ordinary characteristic (field) if added as an additional field and hence can be used for  filtering or selection criteria.


Fig.8 Model BW as a source for View function definition with navigational attributes used for filtering data

To oppose though to my recent statement above, navigational attributes is not possible to be used directly if the succeeding function of the Model BW is a Query. To be able to use navigational attributes in Query, the modeler needs to do a few additional steps. One way to do it is to use the Model BW as input of a View function (see Figure 8) then right after add the navigational attribute as additional field. Based on such defined view function, navigational attributes are available for a query function definition and can be used further for reporting purposes.

Tip: View function used as an input parameter for query function definition must be marked as “executable”.


Fig.9 Query function definition with navigational attributes used

Since SAP HANA BW Modeling Tools within definition of new objects (objects that came into BW world with BW/HANA and BW4/HANA like aDSO and Composite Providers), it is possible to define Transitive Attribute. Transitive attribute is a navigational attribute of a navigational attribute. Example, if A has B as a navigational attribute and further, B has C as it’s navigational attribute then C is called a Transitive Attribute for A.

In SAP PaPM, Transitive Attribute behaves and can be used the same way like an ordinary navigational as described in the earlier part of this article.

Last but not least before I close this blog post, I promised to discuss about attributes of InfoObject but you may have a question like What if I do not want to use InfoObject or BW? Can I still make use of Attributes?

Yes, Characteristic and its attributes are also possible to be created from SAP PaPM interface as Environmental fields with attributes assigned to it by defining a new field and assign it then to the main characteristic as an attribute. Maintaining master data for main characteristic and its attributes is also done from SAP PaPM as you can see in Fig.10


Fig.10 Assignment of attributes to environmental fields (main field)

Please take note that they work only as display attributes in Analyze view. You may check Attributes – quick and simple overview section for more information on how to use attributes in Analyze screen.

I hope this writing helps you in understanding the connection of PaPM with SAP BW with respect to Attributes so that you would leverage it to maximize its use for your PaPM data presentation, filtering data or report management. As mentioned earlier – time dependency for attributes and usage of it is to be covered in the next blog “Using time dependent attributes in SAP PaPM”. Stay tuned!



If you are familiar with BW Modeling Tools and SAP BW itself and you want to extend your knowledge in PaPM, fell free to read the appendix which contains more technical features of attributes of InfoObject. In this appendix I will use InfoObject YBW_CH095 – Customer, with display attribute YBW_CH011 – Customer name.

Appendix: Using Navigational Attributes – characteristic with display attributes usage

 We can also use the BW characteristic with only display attributes defined (in PaPM ) for extending our PaPM modeling. When we define BW characteristic in SAP HANA studio BW modeling tools, additionally 2 external SAP HANA views may be generated:

  • Attribute view for characteristic master data
  • Analytic view for characteristic master data reporting


Fig. 1 Define BW characteristic with SAP HANA external view

Extending PaPM data modeling with display only attributes could be achieved in a couple of ways:

Direct usage characteristic with only display attributes in PaPM

  • Define “reporting” SAP HANA view for BW characteristic master data and then use it in Model View PaPM function


Fig. 2 Direct usage of BW characteristic with SAP HANA modeling

Indirect usage characteristic with only display attributes in PaPM

  • Use attribute view for SAP HANA view modeling – extension in SAP HANA calculation view by attributes view and then use such view in Model View PaPM function,
  • Use analytic view for SAP HANA view modeling – extension in SAP HANA calculation view by analytic view and then use such view in Model View PaPM function.


Fig. 3 Indirect usage of BW characteristic with SAP HANA modeling

In both cases (direct and indirect) usage of display attributes in PaPM there is a possibility to use such display attributes in filtering for the succeeded function of model view function.


Fig. 4 Filtering data in PaPM using display attribute of main BW characteristic

Using BW characteristic with only display attributes in PaPM is always possible in a query, Analyze of any function with the main characteristic “inside” (in definition).


Fig. 5 Adding display attribute to Analyze of PaPM function


Fig. 6 Display attribute to Analyze of PaPM function

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      Author's profile photo Chanchal Gupta
      Chanchal Gupta

      Very well written.Thanks

      Author's profile photo Hrusikesh Dalai
      Hrusikesh Dalai

      Detailed and well written.



      Author's profile photo Joost Peeters
      Joost Peeters

      Hi Jakub,

      interesting blog, thanks!

      As of which SP is this functionality available?

      I'm on 3.0 SP6 and when I check the "Navigational attributes on" flag for an InfoObject in my model BW function, the navigational attributes are not visible after activating the function.

      Was wondering it this could be related to the SP.

      Best regards,


      Author's profile photo Jakub Krolak
      Jakub Krolak
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Joost,

      Thanks for your question. Nice to hear that blog is interesting – really appreciate that.

      According your question: There were many improvements and adjustments for navigational attributes feature, so I would recommend you to upgrade to SP10 or newer: SP11.

      You can also check note: 2947187 - FS-PER Rel 3.0 SP10: Model BW and Query source Environment bugfixes

      Best Regards,


      Author's profile photo Praful Mohite
      Praful Mohite

      Thanks Jakub. Very well written and helped us resolve our problem.

      Author's profile photo san san2008
      san san2008

      Thank you Jakub, for detailed explanation. Can you confirm if using Model BW and using Navigational attribute in creating PaPM query requires separate BW License as well?