The three toughest items in the SAP GL for finance users

SAP GL is notoriously difficult to learn, but once users become adept, they begin to appreciate the data model and consistency of transactions. With that said, the learning curve is still quite steep. When preparing a PowerPoint deck for an informative presentation on profit center derivation, I realized how much consultants ask of their users. With all of that said, I see three areas that finance users consistently struggle to understand.

Currency types

Many ERP systems do not have a disciplined model around handling foreign currency transactions. SAP’s GL is different in that it handles multi-currency scenarios with ease, but many users are not accustom to thinking in more than one currency at a time. Thus explaining differences between document, local, and group currencies has been a consistent point in my career.


Intercompany entries tend to give users fits. SAP’s concept of company code and trading partner, along with profit center and partner profit center, is an elegant way to enable eliminations on complex environments that need to support both legal and management eliminations. At the same time, explaining this concept to user ts is challenging, especially when the legacy system only uses GL accounts to segregate intercompany relations.

A second challenge is that intercompany is a tough topic in general. Many seasoned accountants struggle with eliminations. Trying to get both the accounting reality correct while enabling eliminations becomes as challenging as baking a souffle while stir-frying pad thai.

Profit Center Derivation

Perhaps it’s my monotoned explanations, but my users’ eyes glaze over whenever I begin to discuss how profit center is derived. I’ve tried explaining it in terms of the business process. I’ve tried explaining active split vs passive split vs inheritance, and that certainly doesn’t help. My finance users are top-notch, and I like to think that I’m a decent consultant. So I suspect that this area is really that difficult.

Each of these areas in the GL are quite challenging for both consultants and end-users to understand. So it’s critical to have learning materials prepared and to take the time to explain the in-depth details of these topics. In that way, the user will have the information they need to be successful.



Lucky says:

David Sir, can u explain more on trading partner please since we are trying to activate trading partner but we are not able to activate the trading partner..



Kathy Peers says:

Hi David,
I have a situation where my BSEG does not show my COGS GL acct with a profit center having a cost center assigned to it. I am assuming this is happening in the splitter logic. Which is a little reverse from your profit center derivation post. Is it possible to configure the splitter to split or assign cost centers depending on the profit center? I look at the Profit center master data and there is a profit center group assignment, but nothing resembling cost center……

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