Pick the Right Reporting Tool for the Job: CO-PA or BW

  • by Tony Rogan, Consultant, SAP America
  • July 15, 2002
If you have the option of using either CO-PA or SAP's Business Information Warehouse to produce reports, then it pays to think about which tool you use in a given circumstance. Choosing the wrong one could mean poor performance, a loss of flexibility, or compromised integrity of the result.

Many of my clients use both the R/3 Controlling module’s Profitability Analysis (CO-PA) and the SAP Business Information Warehouse (BW). When one of them asked me which application would best satisfy a particular reporting requirement, I dismissed the issue as unimportant. Then a second client asked the same question, and I came to understand its validity.

Some firms issue guidelines that determine when to use CO-PA or BW for reporting requirements. Other companies might simply satisfy the requirement as quickly as possible without investing much thought as to which tool is best to use. Having guidelines is a good idea, because choosing the wrong tool might cost you in terms of performance, flexibility, or the integrity of the result. The following four factors will help you decide whether CO-PA or BW will better meet profitability reporting requirements such as sold-to customer project expense/revenue data, profitability by geographic region, or allocated overhead by product number. (See Figure 1 for a summarization of these factors.)

Tony Rogan

Tony Rogan is a certified FI/CO consultant at SAP with eight years of SAP consulting experience. He began his SAP career with a Big 5 consulting firm and over the years has worked in various industries, including utilities, non-profit, high-tech, consumer goods, and process manufacturing. Tony’s expertise lies in the Financial and Controlling modules, with emphasis on Cost Center Accounting, Profitability Analysis, Internal Orders, Profit Center Accounting, Special Purpose Ledger, Project Systems, and Product Costing. He also has experience working with Enterprise Consolidations, LIS, and Business Information Warehouse.

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