Each customer may represent several functions, each of which is specific to accomplishing part of the transaction. These ‘personalities’ or functions are thereby referred to as partner functions. The different partner functions are stored within the customer master record. There are four business partners that are mandatory for a customer, namely:
- Sold-to party: The sold-to party (or partner function)is the central partner function through which all the other functions are referenced. The sold-to party is the party that places the order and to whom sales and product prices are recorded against (e.g., for reporting purposes).
- Ship-to Party: The ship-to party is the party (and address) to whom the order is shipped. Can the ship-to differ from the sold-to? Yes, the ship-to party could be at a totally different location e.g., at a shipping/receiving location.
- Bill-to Party: The bill-to is the party to whom the bill is sent. Again, the bill-to can differ from the sold-to and ship-to. For example, it might be the accounts payable department at the customer’s company.
- Payer: The fourth mandatory partner is the payer. The payer is the party that pays the bill. This could again be an entity distinct from any of the three parties, with a unique address.
Any business operation involves contact between many legal and other persons who interact between each other and business entity to perform various functions. Partner determination in Sales & Distribution helps in display of these business partners in various business transactions and their relationships in the system. It contains a set of rules that govern how system works with business partners during transaction processing.
Determination in sales and distribution can be set up for the following activities:
- Customer Master
- Sales Document Header
- Sales Document Item
- Billing Header
- Billing Item
- Sales Activities (CAS)
Partner Type is required for classification of partner functions in few basic categories. Any new partner types created needs to be assigned a partner type and one thing to note is that partner types are delivered with system and no new ones can be created like Customer (KU), Vendor (LI), Contact person (AP) etc., Partners belonging to multiple partner types require corresponding no of master records, eg. If a partner buys as well as sells goods/services to business entity it requires creation of both customer and vendor master records.
Partners can be assigned to partner functions in Customer master record which can be determined in subsequent sales documents.For a customer some partner functions are made obligatory for processing of sales documents, this is controlled in customizing. (refer Customizing guide) Partner functions are classified or grouped using partner types, eg. Customer, Vendor, Contact Person, etc. Partner functions in system are represented by two character code which can be alphanumeric, eg. SP (Sold-to Party), SH (Ship-to Party) etc.
Partner Determination Procedure
There are various partner objects like Customer master, Sales document, item category etc. A partner procedure can control which partner functions would be available or are required for a partner object. Various partner procedures can be created in the system for the partner objects. Each Partner object has particular key to which partner determination procedure is assigned, eg. For Customer master it is assigned to Account group, for Sales document header it is assigned to Sales document type. In the partner determination procedure there are various controls against the partner functions which determine how the partner is determined and behaves. Like, Partner function can be made mandatory, It can be controlled if Partner can be modified or not and Source and origin of partner can be controlled. Also, SAP system has predefined partner procedures, these can be utilized or new created based on specific requirements.