Our blog series on the most common SAP Controlling pitfalls and how to avoid them continues this week. SAP Controlling 2013 speaker Paul Ovigele discusses the most common pitfall is from his perspective.
The Controlling Profitability Analysis (CO-PA) module has been around about 15 years, and its original purpose was to enable businesses to produce market segment profitability reports predominantly based on sales data. It is particularly useful to users in the Finance and sales departments as it allows you to perform profitability analysis according to several dimensions (customer, product, country, salesperson etc.) and its real-time functionality aids quick and effective decision making. However, one pitfall of the Controlling module is the inability to automatically reconcile the CO-PA module with the General Ledger.
SAP does its best to make sure that CO-PA is not out of synch with FI. For example, you cannot post a billing document to Financial accounting if a CO-PA value field has not been mapped to a condition. Also there is a transaction (KEAT) that goes some way to performing a reconciliation function, by showing the differences between FI, SD and CO-PA. And of course you have the Account-based approach to CO-PA which can help you produce CO-PA reports using accounts and not value fields, and hence can allow you make a comparison with costing-based CO-PA reports.
However, none of the above options is a complete reconciliation solution. The billing document check is fine, but this is does not deal with any transactions that do not come from a billing document. Also, it does not ensure that the cost of sales value (which is updated at different times in CO-PA and FI) is consistent in both modules. Transaction KEAT is never completely accurate. In fact I have some clients who say that KEAT creates more confusion as it gives you a different figure than is shown in CO-PA and the General Ledger and therefore you end up doing three-way reconciliation as opposed to a two-way one. Account-based CO-PA is simply replicates the P&L, therefore it simply shows the same differences with Costing-based CO-PA that you get when comparing the P&L with costing-based CO-PA.
I have heard some people say that CO-PA was not designed to reconcile with the general ledger. However, I do not think that this is not a fitting characteristic for such a robust an all-encompassing system such as SAP. For example, there are standard reports and processes that reconcile MM with the General Ledger; Fixed Assets with the General Ledger; and the Controlling Module with Financial Accounting. In fact, the latter functionality has even been boosted with the SAP General Ledger (New GL) as this reconciliation is now possible by using the Real-time CO-FI integration option. It is therefore logical that such a tool should exist for reconciling CO-PA (which a lot of finance users find to be a brilliant tool even with this flaw).
Just in case the above comments seem too negative, I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. With the advent of HANA and its integration with CO-PA, along with the mobile-technology platform that SAP is advocating, I believe that the speed and ease of access of CO-PA reports by senior management will shed light on the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the reports in relation to the general ledger. In the past, it had been easy for accountants to “massage” the numbers before handing them over to C-level executives. This will no longer be the case with these new technologies as these executives will be able to access these reports on the fly at super speed, pardon the (timely) Superman references. Therefore, ‘big data’ may open the doorway to making little data more accurate.