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Characteristics are sorting keys, such as company code, product, customer group, fiscal year, period, or region.

They specify classification options for the dataset and are therefore reference objects for the key figures. The characteristics specify the granularity (the degree of detail) at which the key figures are stored in the InfoProvider. In general, an InfoProvider contains only a sub-quantity of the characteristic values from the master data table. The attributes include the permitted values for a characteristic.

Time characteristics are characteristics such as date, fiscal year, and so on.

Technical characteristics are used for administrative purposes only within BW. An example of a technical characteristic is the request number. This is generated when you load a request as an ID and helps you locate the request at a later date.

Special features of characteristics

If characteristics have attributes, texts or hierarchies, these are known as data-bearing characteristics.

Master data is data that remains unchanged over a long period of time. Master data contains information that is always needed in the same way. References to this master data can be made in all InfoProviders.

A hierarchy is always created for a characteristic. This characteristic is the basic characteristic for the hierarchy (basic characteristics are characteristics that do not reference other characteristics). Like attributes, hierarchies provide a structure for the values of a characteristic. The company location is an example of an attribute for Customer. You use this to form customer groups for a specific region, for example. You can also define a hierarchy to make the structure of the Customer characteristic clearer.