Indexes for Dummies - Or, How to Get FI/CO Data Quickly

  • by Tom Spetnagel, Senior FI/CO Configurator, Cox Target Media
  • March 15, 2002
Understanding how data is organized and indexed in SAP can go a long way for users when they want to access information fast. This article explores the secret world of SAP indexes and database tables and explains why FI/CO reporting transactions so often time-out on users, and what steps can be taken to prevent long wait times from happening.

If your users have ever had an SAP FI/CO reporting transaction time-out on them — or at least had a transaction run long enough for them to get a cup of coffee, check e-mail, and surf eBay awhile before getting the sought-after results — this article is for you. I’ll help you explain to your users why those things happen and what steps they can take to prevent long wait times from happening. Stay tuned as we explore the secret world of indexes.

Understanding a little bit about how data is organized in SAP can go a long way for users when they want to access information fast. Whether retrieving Cost Center line items via transaction KE5Z, running Profitability Analysis reports with KE30, or even listing Materials Management documents with MB51, understanding indexes is the key to speed. Thankfully, it doesn’t require any real technical knowledge or proficiency. In fact, the basic principles are inherent in something that everyone already understands and knows how to use — a residential phone book.

A phone book (and here I’m referring to the often-heavy, physical book delivered to your home every-so-often by the phone company, usually on a rainy day) can be thought of as a physical database. There are many individual entries in the phone book, each entry (known as a "record" in database terminology) being a unique combination of a person’s last name, first name, and phone number. And those records are physically sorted and displayed in alphabetical order, by last name and then by first name.

The phone book can be thought of as having a single "index" comprised of the fields Last Name, First Name, in that sequence. If you want to look up a person’s phone number, and you know both the last name and first name, then this is a very effective index — you can look up the phone number very quickly.

Tom Spetnagel

Tom Spetnagel, a former platinum consultant and top performer for SAP America, is a specialist in R/3's Controlling module. Since 1995, Tom has helped several major R/3 customers implement CO and has taught a number of Profitability Analysis and Product Costing classes at SAP training centers as well. Tom is currently the senior FI/CO configurator at Cox Target Media near Tampa. He has both an MBA and a master's degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech and an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan.

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