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June/July 2009

On FI/CO

The Race to a Faster Close: Part I - Using SAP® Tools to Ensure
Financial Data Quality
By Dimitris Langas, SAP Consultant

Editor’s Note: Imagine, a smooth-running monthly, quarterly, or even year-end close, with all of
your data accurate and complete for posting. Go ahead and pinch us—we’re not dreaming.
Dimitris Langas demonstrates which standard SAP tools you can use to validate and substitute
data in order to make your next financial close be one for the books—in a good way!

Introduction
Financial close cycle time is considered to be a key indicator of the state of the underlying
processes and systems in an organization. The ability of a multinational company to complete its
financial close cycles in a timely manner is a clear sign to internal and external stakeholders of a
healthy organization that implements streamlined and efficient financial processes and
procedures.
In recent years, companies across the globe have focused their efforts into streamlining their
financial processes to reduce their financial close time. In slow economic times like these, it is
even more common to take the time and look into these issues in an effort to introduce process
improvements that will benefit the company in the long term.
Customers running SAP sometimes wonder how they can improve their financial close processes
in order to shorten their close cycle. They’ll ask for ideas to help them improve their accounting
processes in order to minimize bottlenecks during closing. One of the most critical factors in such
an effort is the ability to ensure accurate and complete financial data in all your accounting cycle
processes. After all, the root cause of most bottlenecks during a financial close can be traced
back to missing or erroneous financial data.
In this article, I will examine some of the most common causes of poor financial data quality and
propose ways to limit the problem. Thankfully, SAP offers the right tools to achieve “first time
right” postings. The focus will be on a couple of tools that are not particularly new, but have
proven their timeless value in many SAP installations worldwide. All the transactions in this
article were executed on an SAP ECC 6.0 system, but the concept and the relevant functionality
presented are available in earlier versions as well.

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The Race to a Faster Close: Part I - Using SAP®
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The Importance of Ensuring Financial Data Quality
The busiest times for finance departments are when they close their books for a fiscal year.
Closing the books and publishing financial results require a well-organized effort from many parts
of the organization. Corporate finance centers at headquarters and finance personnel in the
subsidiaries are known to put in long hours of work to achieve a timely close.
The inability to ensure “first time right” financial data often causes delays in the financial close
processes, and creates additional anxiety for financial personnel during the close period.
Let’s consider the activities that must be performed before the figures can be reported:
Review and reconcile all sub-ledgers: accounts receivable/payable, assets, inventory
Review and reconcile all inter-company transactions
Reconcile all figures from interfaces from other systems to the SAP finance modules
Reconcile cash movements, inbound/outbound payments, and revalue foreign currency
transactions and balances
Review and post accruals and other periodic postings
Perform all internal allocations, recharges, settlements, and assessments
After all these tasks have been completed successfully, finance personnel will then need to
collect and consolidate their financial data according to internal and external reporting
requirements. This involves presenting their figures not only by legal entity but also by country,
geographical region, business unit, and business line, often down to Profit Center level. To
complicate matters further, most multinational companies need to report
according to different GAAP standards: Using local GAAP for the country where
the subsidiary is residing, plus IFRS and/or US GAAP as required in each case.

Admittedly, to successfully deliver these kinds of reporting requirements in a
timely manner, people, processes, and systems must be aligned. Companies
that have reached this maturity level have done so by ensuring financial data
quality. It is simply not possible to reconcile all your financial data in time during
the close when many of your transactions have been posted erroneously.
One critical factor toward ensuring a successful and timely financial close is
“first time right” financial data, where by “first time right” I mean correct and
®
complete financial information in each posting. Since the early R/3 versions,
SAP has provided a couple of options and tools that allow companies to
increase the accuracy and completeness of their posted transactions.

One critical
factor toward
ensuring a
successful and
timely financial
close is "first
time right"
financial data.

The first of these options is the ability to check and validate your data at the time of the posting.
These validations allow you to implement your own company-specific or industry-specific
business rules and enforce them across your system landscape in a convenient and transparent
way. By using validations extensively, you can maximize the accuracy of your posted data and
thus ensure “first-time right” postings as much as possible.
A second option available is the ability to substitute certain data in your business transactions.
Again, you can implement your own business rules to fill in certain data that is missing from the

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posting, or even change the values of certain data fields. These substitutions will help you
reach maximum levels of completeness and accuracy of your posted data, and thus minimize the
need for manual interventions during the financial close.
In this article, I will take a look into the details of the functionality of these tools and also present
some relatively unknown tips and techniques around their use. Since validations and
substitutions have been around for a while, I assume the reader is aware of the basic system
functionality in this area, and therefore I will not spend a lot of time on how you set up a simple
validation or substitution, but only go through an introduction to the topic before focusing on some
topics that are less well documented. Hopefully this will give you some insights that will help you
improve your current use of these tools and therefore make your financial close less of a struggle.

Validations and Substitutions: An Overview
If you’ve been working with SAP for some time, there is a good chance that you have at least
once used the “central” maintenance transactions for validations GGB0 (Figure 1) and
substitutions GGB1 (Figure 2). I call these “central” maintenance transactions since they provide
direct access to all the validations and substitutions that are available in the various modules of
the system; separate transaction codes exist for the validations and substitutions of each specific
module.
Validations and substitutions belong to the “Special Purpose Ledgers” application toolset within
Financial Accounting, but their use is not limited to that module. Quite the opposite: both these
tools can be used very extensively in many other financial and finance-related applications, as
noted in Figures 1 and 2. It is also possible to make use of them in the Project System (PS)
module.
I’ll get to their possible uses and suggest some application areas where these tools can prove
extremely helpful later. Before that, let me go through some necessary technical information
about these tools.

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Figure 1: Central Maintenance of Validations (transaction GGB0)

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Figure 2: Central Maintenance of Substitutions (transaction GGB1)
As I mentioned earlier, validations and substitutions belong to the “Special Purpose Ledgers”
application toolset within Financial Accounting, so you can reach the two transactions mentioned
above (GGB0 and GGB1) through IMG → Financial Accounting → Special Purpose Ledger →
Tools → Maintain Validation / Substitution / Rules.
Both validations and substitutions use Boolean logic to determine the “truth value” of a statement
(whether the statement is True or False). Also, both validations and substitutions use “conditions”
(logical statements) whose validity is checked.
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Here’s how the logic works:
With validation, when a “prerequisite” is met (returns True), a “Check” is made; if that “check” is
not met (returns False), a message is displayed (either Error or Warning, as specified in each
case). An example Validation is shown in Figure 3. Here, the pre-requisite is that the G/L
account is 470400. If that condition is met, then the reference date for settlement (field BSEGDABRZ) must not be empty. If it is empty, an error message will be displayed. Remember that
you can use transaction SE91 to display and maintain the error messages you use in Validations
(see Figure 4) or follow the menu path Tools → ABAP Workbench → Development →
Programming Environment → Messages from the SAP Easy Access menu.

Figure 3: Example of a Validation (transaction GGB0)

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Figure 4: Messages of Message Class Z1 (transaction SE91)
With substitution, when a “prerequisite” is met (returns True), a “substitution” takes place; i.e., the
value of a specified field is changed. The substituted value may be a constant value or may be
the result of ABAP coding through a User Exit. See an example substitution in Figure 5. In this
example, if the posting has document type (BKPF-BLART) ZP (payment postings in my system)
and the account type (BSEG-KOART) is S (G/L accounts), then the profit center 7001-00 will
always be substituted. If the prerequisite is met for an FI document line item, the substitution of
the profit center value will take place, overwriting any manual input. This way you are ensuring
data accuracy and completeness in your postings.

Figure 5: Example of a Substitution (transaction GGB1)
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One key issue in the subject of validations and substitutions has to do with when they are
triggered. The system uses two objects to identify different moments of business processing
when a validation or a substitution may take place:
1. The “Application Area” for which the validation/substitution is relevant: Some examples of
valid application areas include “FI” for financial accounting, “CO” for cost accounting, “AM” for
asset accounting, “GA” for FI-SL allocations, “PS” for the Project Systems module, etc. You can
display the contents of Table GB03 for a listing of all the Application Areas (see Figure 6).
2. The “Call-up Point”, which is the specific point within the application process in which the
validation/substitution should apply. You can consider the call-up point as a subdivision of the
“Application Area”, since each application area uses different call-up points.
You can display the contents of table GB31 for a listing of all the call-up points for each
application area. For example, the application area FI uses five call-up points (see Figure 7),
which are different from the call-up points of application area AM (see Figure 8).

Figure 6: List of Application Areas (Contents of Table GB03)

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Figure 7: List of Call-up Points for Application Area FI (Contents of Table GB31)

Figure 8: List of Call-Up Points for Application Area AM (Contents of Table GB31)
SAP calls this combination of application area and call-up point a Boolean class, and identifies it
by a unique three-digit code. Table GB31 contains the definitions of these Boolean classes,
along with their unique three-digit code identifiers. This table also specifies whether each
Boolean class is available for validations and/or substitutions (see Figure 9).

Figure 9: List of Boolean Classes (Contents of Table GB31)
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For each Boolean class (i.e., for each combination of Application Area/Call-up Point), there is a
specific set of fields that are available to be used in Validations & Substitutions. To display this
list of fields, just start either the GGB0 or the GGB1 transaction, make a single click on the
relevant Application area / Call-up time, and then select the option Extras → Flds in Bool.
Statmnt from the top menu. In my example shown in Figure 10, I want to display the relevant
fields for the Cost Accounting / Line Item Boolean class. Notice that I select the relevant class
before going to the top menu (also notice how the “Line Item” row of the “Cost Accounting”
application area is highlighted when I choose Extras → Flds in Bool. Statmnt).

Figure 10: Select Extras → Flds in Bool. statmnt from the Top Menu (transaction GGB1)

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The system displays a pop-up window with all the fields that are assigned to that Boolean class
(see Figure 11). Note that on the title of the pop-up window, you can identify the code that the
system uses for that class; for the Cost Accounting/Line Item class, this is “001”.

Figure 11: Fields Assigned to Boolean Class 001, Cost Accounting / Line Item (transaction
GGB1)

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Figure 12 displays a list of fields assigned to Boolean class 015, Financial Accounting / Complete
document.

Figure 12: Fields Assigned to Boolean Class 015, Financial Accounting / Complete
Document (transaction GGB1)
Previously, we’ve discussed how SAP uses a three-digit code to identify particular points in the
application process in which a validation or substitution should be triggered. We’ve also
demonstrated how to check which fields are available to be used in conditions for each Boolean
class.
It’s worth noting that each Boolean class is also assigned to some fields that are substitutable. In
other words, only those fields may be substituted for that Boolean class. The reason is
simple: SAP wants to protect the integrity of the posted information and therefore only certain
fields should be allowed to be substituted.
Note: The impact of substitutions on the audit trail is addressed later in this article.

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To display which fields are substitutable for a particular Boolean class, proceed as shown in
Figure 13: Select the relevant class and then choose Extras → Substitution Fields from the top
menu.

Figure 13: Substitutable Fields for Boolean Class Cost Accounting / Line Item (transaction
GGB1)

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The system then responds with a list of the substitutable fields for the specific Boolean class
selected (see Figure 14).

Figure 14: List of Substitutable Fields for Boolean Class 001 (transaction GGB1)

Now, there may be certain circumstances when you need to substitute a field that is not originally
available for substitution in the standard system. There is a way to add that particular field to the
list shown in Figure 14. I will come back to this later.
Another question that sometimes arises is how you can ensure an audit trail in your postings
once certain fields get substituted automatically. I will also discuss this issue a bit later in this
article.
We now have a basic overview regarding the use of validations and substitutions. In the
remainder of my article, I will present some of the most common application areas for these tools,
and hopefully give you some ideas of how you can put these into action.
Later in the article, I will also list some topics and technical issues that you should be aware of
regarding the use of validations and substitutions.

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Validations: Ensure the Accuracy of Your Posted Data
In this section, I’ll present some uses of validations that are common in SAP installations and
suggest some ways in which you can take advantage of the system to improve your posted data.

Validations in Financial Accounting
Financial accounting (FI) offers three classes for validations:
Document header – validations take place once the data for the FI document header is
entered, and before the processing of the line items has started. It allows the use of
fields from the BKPF structure.
Line item – validations take place when the data for an FI document line item has been
entered, and before the processing of the next line item starts. It allows the use of fields
from the BKPF and BSEG structures.
Complete document – validations take place when the data for the complete FI
document has been entered, and before the FI document is saved (posted). It allows the
use of fields from the BKPF and BSEG structures. Data from all the document line items
is now available for the validation, as opposed to the line item validations in which data
from only that particular line item is available.
A common use of validations in FI is to ensure no unwanted postings take place during the
period-end, quarter-end, or the year-end closing. Usually a check of the document type and the
system date (SYST-DATUM) will ensure that you don’t allow certain postings once the financial
close processes have started. To disallow “back-postings”, for example, check and compare the
posting data (BKPF-BUDAT) against the system date (SYST-DATUM).
To display the system fields that are available, just double-click on the Structure SYST (see
Figure 15).

Figure 15: Structure SYST Contains the System Fields That Can Be Used in Logical
Statements
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Figure 16: List of Structure SYST Fields
A list of system fields will be available for use in logical statements. Fields like SYST-DATUM
(current date) and SYST-UNAME (user name) are commonly used to ensure certain unwanted
postings cannot take place.

Validations in Fixed Assets Accounting
Fixed Assets accounting (AA) offers two classes for validations:
Master Data – validations take place when you create or change fixed asset master
records. You’re allowed to use fields from the ANLA (master record segment), ANLB
(depreciation terms), ANLV (insurance data), and ANLZ (time-dependent allocations)
structures.
Postings – validations take place just before a document is posted to the AA sub-ledger.
The system allows the use of fields from the list of structures that comprise the AA subledger; for example, ANEP (asset postings line items), ANLC (asset value fields
cumulative), etc.
In many SAP installations, the AA module is ideal for implementing many validations, both for
master maintenance and for AA postings. The reason is two-fold:
1. AA usually inherits a lot of data from other financial and nonfinancial applications.
Purchasing postings, or even Production Planning (PP) or Project Systems (PS)
postings, end up in AA when you purchase assets or when you produce them internally.
Plant Maintenance (PM) module transactions end up in AA when you own serviceable
assets. Unfortunately, experience shows that not all users in a company are aware of
asset accounting guidelines, even though their postings might end up in that sub-ledger.
2. AA is a financial sub-ledger and in many SAP installations is known to be one of the
bottlenecks during period-end closing. This is usually due to erroneous master data or
postings that have taken place during the month and only show up at period-end when
the periodic processing starts.

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For these reasons, I suggest that you take the time to review your AA validations, especially so if
you are experiencing AA errors and delays during your financial close. There is a wide array of
data that you can validate (either master data or postings); taking advantage of the system
possibilities in this area can sometimes considerably reduce your AA closing efforts.

Validations in Cost Accounting
The Cost Accounting / Line Item class (class 001) is probably the class with the largest collection
of available fields to use. Among others, it makes available fields from the COBL (coding block),
PRPS (WBS master data), VBAK (SD document header), and VBAP (SD document line item)
structures (see Figure 17).

Figure 17: Boolean Class 001 Contains a Very Large List of Available Fields to Use in
Validations
A common reason to use cost accounting validations is to ensure postings from various
applications have the right account assignment objects. Common examples include validating
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G/L accounts (cost elements) against cost center categories (e.g., preventing posting marketing
costs against a production cost center) or internal order types.
Cost accounting validations used to check account assignment objects will also be triggered by
purchasing transactions. This should prevent, for example, your purchasing users posting to the
wrong fixed assets or internal orders, and/or with the wrong G/L accounts.

Substitutions: Ensure Completeness of Your Posted Data
Substitutions are used in many processes of both FI and CO. Also, in many industries and
installations that use Cost of Sales accounting, the functional area (FKBER) is usually derived
from, and substituted based on, other information on the accounting document.
In this section, I’ll present some common uses of substitutions,
focusing on the areas of asset accounting and profit center accounting.

Substitutions in Fixed Assets Accounting
In the Fixed Assets module, substitutions may be used to fill in
additional information for reporting purposes.
One example would be to substitute the asset Nbr. (or another
combination of fields as fits your requirement) in fields like inventory
Nbr. to allow quicker and/or more flexible reporting. Use the Master
Data substitution Boolean class (030). Most fields of the ANLA, ANLB,
and ANLZ structures are available to be substituted (see Figure 18).

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In the Fixed
Assets module,
substitutions may
be used to fill in
additional
information for
reporting
purposes.

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Figure 18: Substitutable Fields of Boolean Class 030 (transaction GGB1)
Another example would be to substitute whatever information is needed in certain “reporting” and
“classification” fields of the FA master. Typical examples include the field Location and
Evaluation Groups (see Figure 19). By using such substitutions, you can avoid manual errors
and omissions when creating the FA master data, and ensure that your fixed assets are correctly
classified for your reporting needs.

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Figure 19: Evaluation Groups in FA Master Data (transaction AS03)
The two examples I mention above should give you some indication of what you can have the
system do automatically for you. Of course, you can make a list of your company-specific
requirements and create the relevant substitution rules.
Just a final note on FA master data substitutions: there is a separate Boolean class for Mass
changes to FA master data. This is Boolean class 033 (see Figure 20).

Figure 20: Boolean Class 033 for FA Mass Master Data Changes (transaction GGB1)
Substitutions in Profit Center Accounting
One of the most common uses of substitutions is substitution of the Profit Center during the sales
process. This is a very common process used in almost any multinational company, as

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companies want to credit their sales to the business line (division) that made the sale in the first
place, irrespective of the profit center to which the material belongs.
Remember that in the Material Master data tab “Sales: General/Plant”, the material is assigned to
a profit center (see Figure 21 for an example).

Figure 21: Assignment of a Profit Center to a Material Master Data (transaction MM02)
According to the standard SAP configuration settings, when you make a sale, the Profit Center
that takes the credit for that sale is derived directly from the Material Master. However, you would
usually want to credit the sale to the Profit Center that actually made it.
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You can define your CO-PCA substitution rules either via transaction GGB1 or transaction 0KEM,
accessible via IMG → Enterprise Controlling → Profit Center Accounting → Assignments of
Account assignment objects to Profit centers → Sales Orders → Sales Order Substitutions. In
the same menu path, you will also find transaction 0KEL, which will allow you to assign your PCA
substitution rule to the respective controlling area (see Figure 22).

Figure 22: Assign PCA Substitution Rule to Controlling Area (transaction 0KEL)
A typical example of such a substitution rule may look like the one shown in Figure 23, in which I
use the Sales Organization (PCASUB-VKORG), the distribution channel (PCASUB-VTWEG), and
the division (PCASUB-SPART) to substitute the value of a specific Profit Center. Of course, in
more complicated situations, you would most probably use a User Exit and custom table(s) and
business logic to find the correct Profit Center based on the Sales Area.

Figure 23: Assign PCA Substitution Rule to Controlling Area (transaction 0KEM)
Earlier in this article, I promised to discuss the issue of audit trail in relation to fields that get
substituted in the manner described above. As I will discuss in detail later, there exists a certain
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utility program that will list for you all the fields that are actually used in substitutions. Using this
program will help you identify those fields that are currently being substituted in your system and
you can then easily check the relevant substitution rule for the current business logic.
A slightly more difficult case occurs when the business logic of a substitution rule has changed
after the time of your posting. Say for example, that a Profit Center substitution rule has changed
recently. You would like to be able to show that previously posted documents were actually being
posted with the correct Profit Center, according to the then valid substitution logic. In order to be
able to trace back such changes to your substitution logic, you must activate change logging for
the relevant customizing objects. If you are not sure whether these settings are active in your
system or if you want to know how to activate them, you will need to contact your Basis team
members for assistance.
To display your substitution rules change logs, follow the path IMG → Financial Accounting →
Special Purpose Ledger → Tools → Maintain Validation / Substitution / Rules, select “Maintain
Substitution” and click on “Change Log” (see Figure 24).

Figure 24: Change Logging for Substitution
This will take you to the “Evaluation of change logs” screen. Using this report, you can find out
what changes have taken place in your Substitution rules over the specified time period (see
Figure 25).

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Figure 25: Evaluation of Change Logs for Substitution

Substitutions & Validations in Practice: Things to Note
Validations and substitutions are used extensively in many SAP installations and most people are
aware of the basic functionality of these tools. There are, however, some less well known issues
that arise sometimes from the use of these tools that can cause unexpected system behavior.
In the following paragraphs I present some technical issues you may face and some workarounds
that you may find useful when working with validations and substitutions.

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Unwanted Regeneration of Sets Creates Problems for Your System Users
One of the really great conveniences the system offers is the ability to use sets in validations and
substitutions. A simple example of such a case may be a validation prohibiting asset postings on
the period-end closing dates (see Figure 26).

Figure 26: Validation to Prohibit Asset Postings on the Period-End Closing Dates
(transaction GGB0)
Another example may be the substitution of the Profit Center, when postings are made to a
specific group of accounts (see Figure 27).

Figure 27: Substitution of Profit Center for Extraordinary Income Accounts (transaction
GGB1)
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In these cases, we make a reference to sets such as Doc_types_assets, Closing_dates_2009,
and 5011000.INT. We can display these sets of values with transaction GS03. Figure 28
displays the set of document types for asset postings, and Figure 29 displays the set of accounts
for extraordinary income.

Figure 28: Set of Document Types for Asset Postings (transaction GS03)

Figure 29: Set of Accounts for Extraordinary Income (transaction GS03)

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Actually, using sets in validations and substitutions is pretty common as it saves you from having
to maintain the validation/substitution when you add values to such a set. You can simply do so
from the Set Maintenance transaction (GS02) accessible via Accounting → Financial Accounting
→ Special Purpose Ledger → Tools → Set Maintenance → Sets from the SAP Easy Access
menu.
There is a downside to this though: Each time you maintain a set that is used in a validation or
substitution, the system must regenerate a certain ABAP code in order to accommodate the
changes correctly. After all, you do expect the system to take into account your latest changes to
that set. The downside is that regeneration of the code will lead to users being “thrown out of”
certain transactions.
Consider this example: You want to add an account to the set 5011000.INT as shown in Figure
29. You would expect that when you then make a posting to that account, that it would go to
Profit Center L6310, as directed by the substitution shown in Figure 27. For that to happen
though, the system must generate (update) some ABAP code to
actually take into account your changes to the set. The effect of that
code generation would then be that any other user posting to any FI
Simply avoid
document at the time that you have the record open would not be able
to successfully complete the posting. If there are hundreds or thousands
making
of users at any time working on your system, there is a good chance
changes to
that you will make many people unhappy by that change.
What’s the solution? Simply avoid making changes to sets used in
validations or substitutions during high-peak business hours. Delay
these changes until late in the afternoon or (if at all possible) until the
weekend.

sets used in
validations or
substitutions
during highpeak business
hours.

Another good practice is to not bring transports that contain validations
or substitutions into your Production system during business hours.
When you bring these into your live environment, also remember to run
program RGUGBR00, again preferably during off peak hours. This
program actually generates the ABAP coding needed for your validations and substitutions.
There are some sites that even schedule a daily run for this program (actually it’s a late night run)
in order to ensure that code regeneration takes place outside business hours.
The point to remember is that validations and substitutions do use ABAP code in the background
and that code is embedded into normal system processing; therefore they have direct impact on
user experience and any changes to them must ideally occur off business hours.
Making a Field Available for Substitution When It’s Not So in the Standard System
I mentioned earlier that it is possible to make fields substitutable that are otherwise not so in the
standard system. You can list substitutable fields for a Boolean class by selecting the relevant
class and then choosing Extras → Substitution Fields from the top menu of transactions GGB0
and GGB1 (see Figure 14 for an example).

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Now, say you need to substitute a field that is not found in this list; for example, field COBLBZDAT (Reference date). Table GB01 defines which fields are substitutable and which are not
for each Boolean class. If we list the contents of that table for class 001 (Cost Accounting / Line
Item) and look up the field COBL-BZDAT, you will notice a check “X” in the Exclude column (see
Figure 30). This is what prohibits us from being able to substitute that field in our substitutions.

Figure 30: Field BZDAT (Reference Date) Is Excluded from Substitutable Fields (table
GB01)
In such cases, simply ask an ABAP developer to make a short report program and take out the
“X” from the Exclude column for the particular field that you need to have available in your
substitutions.

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After that change is made as shown in Figure 31, you will notice that the relevant field is available
for your substitutions.

Figure 31: Field BZDAT Is Now Included in the List of Substitutable Fields for Class 001
(table GB01)

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After the entry in Table GB01 is changed, notice how field COBL-BZDAT (Reference date) shows
up in the list of substitutable fields (see Figure 32). Compare Figure 32 to Figure 14 to see the
difference that simple change made.

Figure 32: Field BZDAT (Reference Date) Is Now Available for Substitution (transaction
GGB1)
You should be very careful which fields you make substitutable. As I mentioned earlier, SAP
wants to ensure the integrity of the data between the different applications and thus limits the
substitutable fields to only those that will not logically imperil this integrity. Do not make a field
substitutable unless you are absolutely certain you’re aware of all your substitution’s side effects.
Finally, in case you want to insert custom-fields (i.e., non SAP-standard fields) in validations and
substitutions, please refer to Note 20637 (Inserting fields in validations and substitutions).

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Other Useful Transactions Related to Validations and Substitutions
In closing this article on validation/substitution functionality, it is worth mentioning transaction
GGB4, a so called “analysis tool for validations/substitutions”.

Figure 33: Analysis Tool for Validations – Substitutions (transaction GGB4)
As shown in Figure 33, this transaction offers three possibilities:
1. Activate a validation or substitution: This is a straight forward action. Once you have
created or imported a validation or substitution into your system, it must be activated. This
activation has the effect of regenerating the actual ABAP code in order to activate your validation
or substitution.
2. Find out whether a message is used in a validation or substitution: This can be useful
when you receive an error or warning message during processing that is not a standard SAP
message. You might then want to check if this message is the result of a validation.
3. Find out if a certain field is substituted: This option is useful when you’re unsure as to how
the system determined the value in a field. You do a quick check here to verify whether or not the
field is used in any substitutions. If it’s indicated that there was a substitution, then this could
explain why the field has a value that may be different from what you expected (manual user
input was overwritten by the substitution value).
Finally, there are two other useful ABAP programs that are the directories (i.e., listings of)
validations and substitutions:
RGUGBR31 is the “Directory of validations”.
RGUGBR32 is the “Directory of substitutions”.
You can execute these programs via transaction SA38.

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Figure 34 displays the selection screen for the validation directory (RGUGBR31). This report can
be used to quickly get a listing of all the validations that meet certain criteria, or to find other
relevant information about your validations (e.g., used sets, fields, user exits, etc.). RGUGBR32,
the directory for substitutions, is shown in Figure 35.

Figure 34: Validation Directory Selection Screen (ABAP code RGUGBR31 run via
transaction SA38)

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Figure 35: Substitution Directory Selection Screen (ABAP code RGUGBR32 run via
transaction SA38)
For a list of frequently asked questions about validations and substitutions, you can refer to Note
842318.

Conclusion
A company’s ability to produce its financial statements in a timely manner sends a strong
message to key stakeholders about the company’s finances and IT functions’ maturity level. The
world’s largest organizations are striving to align their processes and employ technologies that
can help shorten their financial close cycle.
A key concept in minimizing financial close time is data accuracy and completeness; in other
words, getting the data right the first time. Validations and substitutions have been used since
early SAP releases to help ensure all the required data is posted correctly. These tools allow
companies to implement their own company-specific business rules and make sure these rules
are automatically and consistently enforced each time a posting takes place.
In this article, I provided an overview of the system functionality in this area, presented some of
the most common uses of these tools, and finally provided some insights on common issues that
you may face in using these tools. Hopefully, I have given you some ideas worth investigating
further and shed some fresh light on the topic. Part II will close this two-part series with an
explanation of the closing processes and how to optimize them.
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About the Author
Dimitris Langas is an independent SAP consultant specializing in the Financials modules. He
has participated in numerous SAP implementations across many European countries and has
worked with customers of almost all sizes, industry sectors and nationalities in the EU. Working
with business software since 1992 and with SAP products since 1998, he has undertaken many
technical, functional, and management roles in a large number of IT projects. His current
interests include financial process automation, accommodating financial reporting standards and
local legal requirements on SAP ERP, and using SAP software and tools to turn transactional
data and figures into valuable management information and insight. You may contact the author
at mailto:[email protected] Be sure to mention the author’s name and/or the article
title.

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