What's an "Assignment Number," and How a Misunderstanding Can Give Your End Users an Unfriendly Surprise

  • by Mitresh Kundalia, Director — SAP Practice, Quality Systems & Software
  • June 15, 2003
A default sort allows you to sort accounts by different criteria, such as expense accounts by cost center and assets accounts by asset number. Its role is sometimes confusing, however, and therefore it is underused in the FI module. The author clears up two sources of confusion: terminology and the possibility the system presents of setting up two defaults. The customer or vendor account number has a sort key setting in its master. And, the linked G/L account number has a second (and separate) sort key setting in its (G/L) master.

In the FI module, “assignment number,” previously known as “allocation number,” refers to an additional reference field on the Accounting Line Item screen. It is primarily used to sort accounting transactions by default. Figure 1 shows accounting transactions default-sorted by their posting dates.

So what is the big deal about using an extra field to sort line items? The answer is that a default sort allows you to sort accounts by different criteria, such as expense accounts by cost center and assets accounts by asset number.

The role of the default sort is sometimes confusing, and therefore it is underused in the FI module. The first source of confusion stems from terminology, which I can easily clear up. (See the sidebar, “Terminology Adds to the Confusion.”)

The second source of potential confusion here, which is not well-documented in SAP self-help materials, is something that most of us have wondered about, and it is what I want to focus the remainder of this article on. This is the question of what to do when we have not one, but two, places in the system offered to us to set up a default. The classic example is a customer or vendor master, each of which must link to a G/L reconciliation account. The customer or vendor account number has a sort key setting in its master. And, the linked G/L account number has a second (and separate) sort key setting in its (G/L) master!

Note
The screenprints shown in this article are from IDES Release 4.6, and therefore in most cases show the reference column as Assignment. In earlier releases, you see it as Allocation. From this point on, I will use the term “assignment number” to avoid confusion.

Although this gives you the ability to sort customer line items with one kind of default and the corresponding line items of the G/L account with a second kind of default, it can lead to an unpleasant surprise for the end users analyzing this data. Let’s look more closely at that. But first, I’d like to touch on two basics to make sure there is no confusion about an assignment number vs. a sort key.

Mitresh Kundalia

Mitresh Kundalia heads the SAP practice at Quality Systems & Software (www.QSandS.com). QS&S is a leading business and technology consulting firm that specializes in delivering superior IT solutions using SAP products. Mitresh is widely acknowledged as a leading SAP expert and has worked on various SAP assignments, including strategic planning, fresh implementations, upgrades, and post-go-live support projects. With an MBA degree in finance, Mitresh manages SAP projects with a special focus on customer-focused solutions, management reporting, profitability analysis, SAP General Ledger, and business intelligence. He is a regular contributor at SAP events and publications and technical advisor to leading journals.

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