Ask the Financials Expert: Avoid Confusion by Eliminating Gaps in Number Ranges

  • by Martin Ullmann, President, DAP Consulting
  • October 15, 2005
All SAP objects such as master data or transactional data are assigned in SAP to number ranges. Users experience number skips from time to time. Learn why these gaps occur and how to avoid them.

Dear SAP Financials Expert,

Thanks for your article in FI/CO Expert on aligning the MM and FI document numbers (May 2004)). We used your article to configure this process in our system recently. We have noticed that Logistic Invoice Verification (LIV) has skipped some numbers in the number sequence 52xxxxxxxxx in table BKPF/RBKP in the last two days. For example the number range sequence skipped from 5200000126 to 5200000130. We know that there is a caveat that continuous number assignments are not guaranteed, but should the system skip numbers? Can you help us to understand if this a natural phenomenon with the MM/FI number ranges for same documents?

-SAP Support Director

A couple of weeks ago, I received this question about skipped numbers via an email from a newsletter reader. This problem comes up frequently surrounding yearly audits. Usually auditors question gaps in financial document ranges, and by addressing the problem with some the following customizing steps you can avoid having to give lengthy explanations.  Well, the reason why number ranges are skipped is that number range buffering is switched on for the specific number range object. I’ll give you more detail on that concept.

All master data or transactional data in SAP is assigned to number range objects. In the case of LIV invoices, the corresponding number range object is RE_BELEG. If number range buffering is switched on, an interval of numbers is stored in the shared memory of the application server. The interval depends on a setting of the number range object, called No. of numbers that must be held in the buffer. The standard-delivered SAP setting for number range object RE_BELEG is 10. That means that at the time of the first posting of a LIV invoice, the system assigns an interval of 10 numbers to a user. Once this user posts 10 invoices, using all numbers of this interval, the system assigns the next interval of 10 numbers to this user.

Why are numbers then skipped, if the system assigns continuous intervals to a user? The reason is that multiple users are using the same number range object in parallel, and different intervals are assigned to these users. Another reason is that the shared memory is deleted if the system is shut down, for example, because of regular off-line system backups.

Martin Ullmann

Martin Ullmann is president of DAP Consulting, which specializes in public sector industries. He has more than 12 years of experience with SAP R/3. His main area of expertise lies in the FI/CO
area, with focus on new components, integration, enhancements, and business process improvements.

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