When using SAP you’ll quickly encounter and need to utilize partner functions. They work behind the scenes to ensure that your customers, vendors , service providers are properly identified within your processes. Typically you’ll see these in partner tabs in your documents but they exist throughout the system. There are over 100 partner functions for almost every possibility.

To simplify understanding their purposes and how they are used we’ll walk through the common functions available in SAP in today’s post. A common practice is to create a new partner function (a so called z record) if you have a need and there is no existing partner function available for the relationship you are trying to model. Hopefully by understanding the standard functions will avoid creation of unnecessary Z functions.

A word about partner function codes, partner function codes themselves might be a little confusing depending where they are used because of the way they are supported in SAP. I’ll use the example of the sold-to party, the underlying code is AG, if you look at a sales order, you’ll see the party role as AG – Sold-to Party.

Sales order Partner function for Sold-to

Sales order Partner function for Sold-to

Now if you look at the EDI partner settings it will be SP – Sold-to Party.

EDI Partner profile Sold-to Party

EDI Partner profile Sold-to Party

Whats happening here? Are the different? Actually they are referring to the same function. AG is an abbreviation of Auftraggerb which is sold-to in German. Since the codes were initially developed in Germany they reflect German abbreviations. SAP does provide a table for translations, so if you see the table below there is a language specific conversion of AG – Sold-to to SP for English. The only issue to be aware of is that this table is not respected everywhere as you can see with the example above so in some places you’ll still see AG whereas in fewer places you’ll see the converted value of SP.

Partner function conversion

Partner function conversion

In my lists below, I list the native function code as that is what you will see most times.

An additional comment, though I have described areas where a partner function is used, partner functions are cross functional so for example it is possible to use forwarding agent in Sales orders and also in purchase orders, ultimately the process you are modelling will dicate your needs but the partner functions themselves are not limited. Below I describe the typical uses not necessarily the only ones.

The top 5 (The most common partner functions)

  1. AG – Sold-to – The sold-to party is commonly used primarily in the sales areas, so Quotations, sales orders documents etc.to identify the part that is purchasing the goods or services.
  2. SH – Ship-to party – Ship to party is initially entered in the sales document but is primarily used in delivery documents such as Deliveries, Shipments, EDI etc. to identify the party the goods or services are to be delivered to, this does not have to be the same as the sold-to party.
  3. FA – Forwarding Agent – Represents a carrier, forwarding agent, customs broker etc. involved in the delivery process in deliveries and shipments.
  4. BP – Bill-to Party – Bill to parties are useful when the sold-to and billing parties differ, when this is the case you will use the Bill-to party in the sales documents.
  5. VN – Vendor – used to identify vendors in a purchase order.

The rest

  • LS – Logical System – are used in integration scenarios such as EDI to identify the origin system or destination system.
  • BU – Buyer – can be used in sales and in purchasing to identify the buyer separately from the vendor or customer, this could be for purposes such as sending a copy of a PO to the buyer in addition to the vendor. In case of sales order a possibility is when communicating with a company with many buyers you can identify the specific buyer for each order.
  • SE – Sales employee – Is useful for assigning the sales employee responsible for a sale in a sales order document. This is useful in cases where the responsible sales employee has responsibility or commission related to the order.
  • PY – Payer – allows a subdivision of parties involved in invoicing and paying. It is possible to use BP -Bill to Party as the receiver of the invoice whereas payment will come from customer identified as PY partner.
  • OA – Ordering Address -used for vendors where the vendor receives PO at one address but invoices from a separate address, in this scenario the OA would identify where the PO is sent to, where as VN identifies the main vendor.
  • SB – Spec.stock partner – Used for consignment situations where a customer has a third party to manage consignment inventory instead of its own facilities. When a SB partner is present on a consignment order, upon PGI the inventory is moved to the SB partner inventory.
  • GS – Goods Supplier – this is used in purchasing and allows the identification of the vendors site actually providing the goods.

I hope that sharing some of this info may save you from creating a unnecessary partner function and give you a clearer understanding. if you have any questions or comments related to this post feel free to post below. If we can assist you with your SAP optimization feel free to contact us here. We are happy to hear from you.


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