Make Users Smile with Better Running F4 Searches

  • by Bharat Patel, SAP BW System Manager, Bharat Petroleum, India
  • Shreekant W. Shiralkar, Global Head, SAP Analytics CoE, Tata Consultancy
  • November 1, 2004
F4 search is a popular tool to find characteristics for filtering. It generates a list of values that can be used for limiting query results so that users can find just what they're looking for. While popular, F4 can add to your system overhead and cause end-user dissatisfaction if proper maintenance is not observed.
Key Concept
Defining InfoObjects correctly in the Administrator Workbench is crucial if your F4 search is to function properly. Settings available on the Business Explorer (BEx) tab of the InfoObject maintenance screen determine how certain calls are made on the database when InfoObjects are used to filters, which affects F4 functionality.

Filtering is critical to query runs because they allow users to limit their reports to specific areas of interest such as material, customers, or regions. Pressing the F4 key launches a function that searches the system and lists all the characteristic values relevant for a particular query’s filtering. While F4 searches are common, they gobble up precious processing resources. Any problems with the F4 feature can be exacerbated quickly because often this search tool is used over and over as query results are reevaluated with filtering.

In addition to system overhead penalties, generating F4 lists can be a sore spot with users. BW system administrators are familiar with users grumbling when they attempt to find codes and filter values with the F4 search. “I want to filter a particular material value but the list did not provide it,” they moan, while others lament, “I was forced to memorize the material codes because it takes too long for F4 to provide a list.” Using F4 search also can be excruciatingly slow, so end-user dissatisfaction has the potential of being a real problem.

The time it takes your BW system to generate an F4 list depends on a variety of different settings and options. Its ability to return a list ranges from very quickly to very slowly depending in part on the settings made when creating or maintaining an InfoObject.

Bharat Patel

Bharat Patel is experienced in managing data warehouse technology for the petroleum industry. He is an SAP-certified BW and ABAP consultant, has authored a book on SAP BW, and teaches courses on BW and ABAP at the Sapient Academy and SAP Labs India. Bharat has presented papers about BW at Business Intelligence India Group (BIIG) conferences. He presently manages the SAP BW system at Bharat Petroleum, India.

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Shreekant W. Shiralkar

Shreekant W. Shiralkar is a senior management professional with experience on leading and managing business functions as well as technology consulting. He has authored best selling books and published many white papers on technology. He also holds patents for innovations. Presently he is global head of the SAP Analytics Centre of Excellence at Tata Consultancy.

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