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Since the introduction of S/4 HANA, there has been a lot of information written on the new analytics products available for S/4 HANA Finance that leverage the new Universal Journal table ACDOCA.  These products include the new Embedded BW Reporting and various Fiori apps that can dynamically query financial documents from ACDOCA in real-time.

Great tools and features, yes, but it needs to be pointed out that these analytic tools are not quite “out of the box” tools and require some degree of additional configuration and resources.  However, there is a great set of tools in S/4HANA Finance called the FI Line Item Browsers that are truly out of the box.  These tools were not actually new for S/4 HANA, they became available with ECC6 on HANA, but along with the transformational data model changes to FI/CO in S/4 HANA (I’m talking about the Universal Journal), these tools are incredibly useful for a variety of day-to-day operational and analysis tasks within S/4 HANA Finance.

I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned about these tools under S/4 HANA.  (I won’t be addressing the ECC6 versions).  In this first blog I’ll give an overview of the Browser transactions and present a case for giving them a thorough checkout.  Everything I will share is based on my S/4 HANA experience and investigation, so if anybody has additional information or clarification feel free to share.

In Part II of this blog I’ll walk through running the Browser transactions in S/4 HANA and share some usability issues that I’ve come across.

FI Line Item Browsers

The Line Item Browsers include the following transaction codes:
FAGLL03H – G/L Line Item Browser (G/L View)
FBL3H – G/L Account Line Item Browser*
FBL1H – Vendor Line Item Browser
FBL5H – Customer Line Item Browser
KE5ZH – PCA Line Item Browser*
HDBC – ERP Accelerators: Settings*
* not found in SAP Menu hierarchy

It isn’t correct to say these transactions are “HANA optimized replacements” for other line item display transactions, for example, to say that FBL1H is a replacement for FBL1N. In the first place, the “old” transactions like FBL1N still exist and can be used, and secondly but most importantly, the functionality of the new Line Item Browser transactions is vastly different than the older line item display transactions.

SAP Note 1912066 has a very good descriptive paragraph which I’m going to take the liberty to directly quote:
“The line item browser displays an initial list of all aggregated line item information according to the restrictions made on the selection screen. You can change the layout according to your requirements by adding or removing fields. You can also choose predefined layouts.
After changing the layout or choosing a predefined layout the data is reselected including the newly requested information. If you did not choose any data records, the new layout will be applied to all data records. If you choose specific data records the line item browser will display the new layout according to the data records you selected.
If your layout includes at least the fields company code, fiscal year, and document number you can select a data record and display the corresponding document. “

(SAP Note 1912066 – ERP Accelerators: FI Line Item Browsers)

From this Note I’d like to emphasize the following major points:

  1. The Line Item Browsers initially display aggregated data, based on a layout of selected fields, and are optimized to do that. The old line item display transactions always displayed detailed document-level data, and this often caused performance/out of memory/timeout issues unless your selection was very narrow. Moreover, they have no aggregation capability, they can only produce detail listings. Even under HANA, the old line item transactions can still cause performance issues and have rather limited usefulness since all you can do is dump document details. With the new Line Item Browsers, leveraging HANA, if you start with an aggregated layout you can retrieve millions of document records and the aggregation performance will be amazingly fast.

  2. With the Line Item Browsers you can dynamically add and remove fields from your layout, or choose a new layout, and the data will be re-aggregated and displayed. (Does anybody recall the BI term “slice and dice”)? You can “drill down” on selected rows and display additional fields for that selection, all the way down to the document details.

  3. The Line Item Browsers still have the capability to jump to the document display in Financial Accounting (transaction FB03).

  4. Due to S/4 HANA incorporating FI, CO and PCA postings into one Universal Journal table, the Line Item Browsers are able to make available many master data fields for G/L Account, Vendor, and Customer, as well as CO and PCA fields.  This allows querying on G/L, Vendor, Customer, CO, and PCA documents with one tool, that you previously had to use separate transactions for in the various modules.

The brief takeaway:  the automatic aggregation and field selection capability of the Line Item Browsers, plus the “slice and dice” and drilldown capability, makes them a Business Intelligence tool, not just a couple of new display transactions in FI.  These transactions can potentially replace a bevy of custom Report Writer or ABAP reports that customers have written simply to aggregate FI, CO, or PCA  data for analysis and reporting.

Summary of the Transactions under S/4 HANA

The interface and functionality of each of the Line Item Browsers is similar, so once you’re familiar with one of them it’s straightforward to use any of them.  Just keep in mind, as I noted above, that not all of them appear in the standard SAP Menu (for some reason), so many users may not even be aware of their existence.  Here is my brief synopsis of each of the Browsers within S/4 HANA.

FAGLL03H – This transaction allows selection and display of most fields in ACDOCA, as well as many fields from BKPF and BSEG, and also from account master data tables SKA1 and SKB1.  It also includes a number of fields from master data tables KNA1 and LFA1 for customers and vendors.  Thanks to the Universal Journal, this transaction can be used to query G/L, vendor, customer, CO or PCA postings.  It is a one-stop shop for Universal Journal querying.  It is based on the “G/L view” of a selected Ledger, which means most G/L documents will be included in queries, including CO-only and allocation documents.

FBL3H – This transaction has the same functionality as FAGLL03H, except that it only selects documents that have an “Entry View”, which means they are cross-Ledger and aren’t restricted to a specific Ledger.  (For more information on that, refer to SAP Note 2297729).  It has fewer fields available for selection and display since the Entry View has fewer fields than the G/L View.  You can call this transaction from FAGLL03H by toggling the “Entry View” button.  Be aware, per Note 2297729, that various documents do not have an Entry View so FBL3H and FAGLL03H may produce different results.

FBL1H – This transaction allows selection and display of the Entry View of vendor postings only, which means only vendor reconciliation account postings.  It displays many fields from ACDOCA, BKPF, and BSEG, and also from the vendor master data tables LFA1 and LFB1.  It must be noted that queries with FBL1H can be mostly duplicated with FBL3H by using a selection on the vendor field, with the exception that FBL1H provides more vendor master fields to display than does FBL3H out of the box.  Of course, you can also display vendor postings with FAGLL03H, but keep in mind those will be Ledger-specific postings that may differ from the Entry View due to currency conversions etc.  The other usefulness of FBL1H is that it can be restricted to a limited A/P user group that you might not want to grant access to the general G/L transactions.

FBL5H – This transaction is similar to FBL1H, except that it allows selection and display of the Entry View of customer postings only, which means only customer reconciliation account postings.  It displays many fields from ACDOCA, BKPF, and BSEG, and also from the A/R master data tables KNA1, KNB1, T014, and KNKK.   As with FBL1H, queries with FBL5H can be mostly duplicated with FBL3H except for the additional A/R master fields that are provided, and moreover FBL5H can be restricted to a limited A/R user group.

KE5ZH – This transaction is different than the others in that it doesn’t access ACDOCA but rather allows selection and display of fields from Profit Center Accounting table GLPCA.  In that regard it is similar to the old PCA line item display transaction KE5Z, except of course you get the aggregation features similar to the other Browsers.  That being said, as I pointed out before under S/4 HANA Profit Center postings are shown in the Universal Journal, and I actually haven’t found any display fields from this transaction (from GLPCA) that aren’t also available in ACDOCA, so my take is that you can use FAGLL03H instead of KE5ZH, unless you want to restrict this transaction to a restricted PCA user group.  (This isn’t true if your company still does PCA-only postings in S/4 HANA, which is an issue I won’t address here but there are several SAP Notes on that.)

HDBC – I mentioned before that the Line Item Browsers work “out of the box” and that’s true.  However, SAP does allow you to customize several aspects of the Browsers with transaction HDBC, such as extending the fields for data selection and hiding fields that can be displayed.  Details on using this transaction are in SAP Note 1912066 that I mentioned above.  Be aware the HDBC settings are transportable changes, unlike any of the other functionality of the Browsers such as changing layouts.  All the functionality I will show in my blogs is totally out of the box with no HDBC customization.

What about KSB1N and KOB1N?

KSB1N and KOB1N were introduced with ECC6 on HANA, I believe, and aren't technically part of the FI Line Item Browsers.  They are basically HANA-optimized replacements for KSB1 and KOB1. Under S/4 HANA these transactions are redundant—all CO data is included in the Universal Journal so any queries with KSB1x or KOB1x can be done with FAGLL03H.  As with all the “old” transactions, KSB1, KSB1N, KOB1, and KOB1N are still available under S/4 HANA but I encourage you to replace these with the Line Item Browser transactions.

Using the Browsers

In the next blog I’ll walk through running the Browser transactions and share some usability issues that I’ve come across.
Update: Part 2 of my blog can be found here
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