A lot has been written about the SAP S/4 HANA table simplifications – but what are the practical implications of these changes and what is the impact on your business?
Previous versions of SAP ECC ran on relational databases a.k.a Oracle, DB2, MS SQL. etc. These databases are very efficient on their own but when overlayed with SAP ABAP code, the ABAP data layer and the SAP ECC datas structures were seldom optimized to maximize their efficiency of these database.
The promise of a ‘data utopia’ which included accurate financial and inventory reporting, exceptional system response times for order processing and fast, easy access to large data volumes constantly fell short of expectations.
The reality was ever decreasing system response times no matter how much system hardware was “thrown” at the ECC performance problems. We tweaked table indexes, removed, or rewrote inefficient programs, built customized solutions, added on 3rd party reporting solutions, and went through the arduous SAP tasks of archiving data all effectively achieving minor gains in performance and response times improvements.
How did SAP break this conundrum and significantly improve system performance and transaction response times in the S/4 Hana releases?
In 2011, SAP released the Hana database as an in-memory database solution designed to process large volumes of data quickly and efficiently. Reformatted how data was stored in tables changing from the traditional SQL row-based tables to column-based tables. “Tuning” the redesigned SAP S/4 Hana suite databases applications to run on the SAP HANA (High-Performance Analytic Appliance) database platform. SAP Hana “Smart Data Access” enabling remote data to be connected as if they were local tables in SAP Hana, integrating data from multiple external systems in real-time. This enables SAP Live Cache on SAP Hana to speed up material planning scenarios, reducing the number of tables updated by every transaction.
For financial reporting central to all S/4 solutions, SAP introduced a single data table known as the “Universal Journal” (ACDOCA). A single material document table (MATDOC) for all inventory transactions which does a synchronous update into the “Universal Journal.”
The“Universal Journal” (ACDOCA) now the central data table that stores all financial and controlling data integrates various business processes into a single table. This consolidation of data helps eliminate redundant data storage and improves data retrieval and processing performance.
A business transaction which generates a financial entry is now consolidated into the Universal Journal and a single table now contains all transactional data relating to:
- General Ledger Accounting
- Accounts Payable
- Accounts Receivable
- Asset Accounting
- Controlling and Profitability Analysis
- Material Ledger
- Sales Invoicing
A few very large and in many cases redundant tables have been replaced by the single “Universal Journal” table. For all inventory related transactions SAP deprecated dozens of tables related to material transactions and replaced them with a single Material Table (MATDOC) which does synchronous updates into the “Universal Journal”. The Material Document Table (MATDOC) is now integral to the Universal Journal. Every inventory transaction which creates a goods movement generates a “Material Document Item” into table MATDOC which does a simultaneous update to the “Universal Journal”.
MATDOCs include Material movements for the following:
- goods receipt,
- goods issue; and
- any other inventory related transactions.
MATDOC's contain all inventory movements with detailed information about every transaction, such as:
- material movement type,
- material number,
- valuation data,
- posting date, and etc.
The Universal Journal table is updated in real-time as these material documents are created. Each line item of the material document will correspond to a line item in theUniversal Journal. The system populates the Universal Journal (ACDOCA table) with the data from the material document (MATDOC) and includes all the financial and controlling information related to the material movement.
What Does This All Mean?
These improvements greatly improve system performance and transactional response times, realtime reporting, and data retrieval. Using real-time data replication controlled by SAP BW∕4HANA via SAP HANA Smart Data Integration to significantly improve performance when running complex queries with large data volumes. “SAP HANA Smart Data Integration provides a large number of Smart Data Integration Data Provisioning adapters that support real-time replication”. (Help Portal - SAP BW/Hana 2021). And 3rd party data extract, transform and load solutions become redundant as S/4 data replication can handle reporting requirements in real time in the format written to SAP tables. Of course, many exceptions exist when additional logic needs to be applied to the data or data needs to be moved to a data lake, cloud or accessed by other tools Power BIETC.