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Best Practice for Site Numbers

A best practice in SAP Retail is that the following objects all have the same 4-character number:

This is true for all Sites: Stores, Distribution Centers, and Reference Sites of all flavors.

But this isn’t a system-constraint! Like many things that are described as a “Best Practice,” you can choose otherwise … and pay the price ?

It’s true that Site Number (Plant Number – T001W-WERKS) is technically defined as 4 characters and can’t be more than 4 characters. But there’s no technical constraint that forces the same number to be used across components of the Site Master.

 

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Site Master is one business object, comprised of many technical objects.

 

Let’s leave aside Site Profit Center Number for now (that one is a complete article. See Profit Center number decisions that add complexity.)

The reason for a very strong preference to make all of these numbers the same — yeah, that’s a Best Practice — is that all of these numbers represent one business object — a Site Master — in different business operations.

If the numbers for the components of the Site Master aren’t the same as the Site number, then your business users have to remember different numbers — other than the Site Number — and use the correct number in different business operations.

For example, Assortment and Listing is based on the Site Customer. When a user is making an entry in those business processes, the user is thinking Site Number, but is technically entering the number of the Site Customer.

Do you really want to train users to remember different numbers for execution of different business processes … when the business user is thinking “Site?”

Let’s go back to the fact that Site Number (Plant Number – T001W-WERKS) is technically defined as 4 characters and can’t be more than 4 characters. Meanwhile, Business Partner number (BUT000-PARTNER), Customer number (KNA1-KUNNR), and Vendor number (LFA1-LIFNR are all technically defined as 10 characters.

Given the Site number constraint, how are Site numbers for more than 9999 Sites accommodated? The only possibility is to use alpha-numeric values for Site Numbers, and thus for associated Business Partner, Customer, and Vendor. After Site 1 to 9999 then it’s A001, A002, A003 and so on.

Lastly, unlike Business Partner, Customer, and Vendor, there is no Number Range object associated with Site Master.

Therefore you can’t limit or control a user’s choice of Site Number when creating the Site. What’s more, leading zeros are relevant for Site Master! It’s possible to create both Site 11 and Site 0011, because 11 and 0011 are not the same number (of course, different Business Partner Customers would be required).

The only thing preventing some Sites being created with leading zeros and others being created without leading zeros is user training.

 

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Site number 11 and 0011 are both possible because leading zeros are relevant.

 

Fortunately, the risk of data entry errors is mitigated by the fact that it’s typical for only two — or a few — users to have authorization to create Sites. This is true even in very large organizations with thousands of Sites.

My advice is to never use leading zeros, mainly because it violates the rule that all Site Master objects have the same 4-character number. If you create Site 11 then a user can consistently enter “11” to identify the Site component, regardless of business process. If you create Site 0011 then a user must enter 0011 on some screens and must enter 11 on other screens, depending on the business process.

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