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 Characteristic Derivation


Characteristic derivation is the attempt to determine the characteristic values for all CO-PA characteristics in a given profitability-relevant business transaction. The characteristic values that are transferred automatically are used to determine other logically dependent characteristics. For this, the system can access information contained in the source document as well as that existing outside it.

The profitability segment to which the account assignments are to be made is determined using the quantity of characteristic values drawn from characteristic derivation.

Example Example

You use the "Customer group" field from the material master (KNA1) as a characteristic in your operating concern. The system recognizes that the customer group depends on the customer number and it is therefore able, for example, to automatically determine the customer group "KG1" for customer "K1" by reading from the customer master.

End of the example.


Characteristic derivation is performed with the following:

  • Manual account assignments, including:

    • Settling Orders and Projects

    • Direct postings from FI

    • Manually created CO-PA line items

    • Manual Entry of Planning Data

Only a few characteristic values have to be entered manually. The remaining characteristic values can be entered via characteristic derivation.

  • Automatic transfer of data from other applications, including:

    • Billing documents

    • Transferring Overhead

    • External data transfer

External applications often supply values for only a few of the characteristics used in an operating concern. This is because some of these applications are not familiar with all profit-related information. Characteristic derivation fills in the remaining characteristic values, provided that they can be derived from the ones supplied by the source application.

Characteristic derivation consists of a series of derivation steps (the derivation strategy ), each of which can be used in turn to derive characteristic values from other characteristics.

For each operating concern you define, the system generates standard derivation steps that automatically contain all the known dependencies between characteristics. The standard derivation strategy contains:

  • Steps for deriving fixed characteristics

  • Steps for deriving the characteristics you selected from SAP tables

  • Steps for determining units of measure for the quantity fields assigned in the Sales and Distribution (SD) application or in planning.

In general, you can copy the standard derivation strategy as it is. If you have created user-defined characteristics, you should nevertheless enhance the standard derivation strategy with several additional derivation steps, provided that logical dependencies exist. For information of additional options for changing the standard derivation strategy, see the section Changing the Standard Derivation Steps .

Each derivation step describes how a group of target fields can be populated with values derived from a group of source fields. One or more values are derived from the combination of values in the source fields and then entered into the target fields. To find out which fields are valid as source fields and target fields, refer to the section Source and Target Fields .

There are different derivation types to represent the different logical dependencies between source and target fields (see Derivation Types ).

You can modify the order for processing the individual derivation steps by entering conditions governing how the step is carried out and by specifying step and field attributes (see Influencing the Standard Derivation Procedure ).


To access characteristic derivation, in CO-PA Customizing, choose Start of the navigation path Master Data Next navigation step Define Characteristic Derivation End of the navigation path.

Then, by choosing Start of the navigation path View Next navigation step Display All Steps End of the navigation path , you can display all derivation steps in the derivation strategy for your operating concern.