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What you need to know about SAP ERP and APO data transfer using CIF: Q&A with SCM 2014 speaker Claudio Gonzalez

March 06, 2014

Claudio GonzalezThank you everyone who joined us for our Q&A with SCM 2014 speaker Claudio Gonzalez of SCM Connections. Claudio answered reader questions on troubleshooting SAP ERP and APO data transfer with the CIF (core interface). 

Questions for Claudio included: 

  • If we CIF subcontracting SNP PDS, will it create any transportation lanes in APO?
  • When should we use inbound queues vs. outbound queues for SAP APO - ECC data transfer? 
  • If ECC and SCM were both on SAP HANA, does this eliminate the need for the CIF?
  • If transactional data goes real time to APO, what is the purpose of batch stock, sales orders, and purchase order CIF jobs?
  • How do you use the CCR Delta Report for post-processing?
  • How do you turn CIF error handling on and off?
  • How should we interpret error messages (like "missing in R/3 w/o entry key") in CCR reports?
  • What are Change Pointers? 

Review all the discussion in the Q&A replay or the edited transcript, now posted below.

Sponsored by
SCM 2014 Las Vegas, April 1-4
Moderated by James Ciccone, SCM 2014 conference producer   

 

James Ciccone, SCM 2014: Thanks to everyone for joining us today for a chat on using CIF for data transfer between ERP and SCM.   

I’m pleased to have Claudio Gonzalez here in the chat today. Claudio is an SCM expert and longtime speaker at SAPinsider’s annual SCM conference. At SCM 2014, Claudio will be presenting a session on managing subcontracting planning requirements in SAP, and one on today’s topic: streamlining data transfer between SAP ERP and SAP APO using CIF.

Welcome, Claudio, and thanks for joining us in today’s chat!   

Claudio Gonzalez, SCM Connections: Hello. Thank you everyone for joining today. I hope I can answer as many questions as possible. I will try my best to answer general CIF questions as well as detailed technical questions. 

 

Comment From Pat H.: Is CIF a standard, delivered SAP tool with ERP / APO or a separate add-on?

Claudio Gonzalez: The CIF is a standard delivered interface.  CIF is an integrated part of the ERP system.

 

Comment From Brad Antalik: If ECC and SCM were both on HANA does this eliminate the need for the CIF? If the CIF is still used, how would HANA affect it?

Claudio Gonzalez: Should not affect it as of right now as there is no dependency. CIF is an integration module independent of the underlying database. Now in the future, there has been some thinking that with ERP DB in memory, we could see the day that the master data (and transactional) dataset for both merge, allowing an unified system with Global ATP (SCM-APO-GATP) available out of the box. The same for CRM and ERP integration.

 

Comment From Ana Parra: Can APO be based on the SAP HANA platform? Do you have supported evidence of before and after scenarios for SAP HANA performance? Thanks!

Claudio Gonzalez: This one is a bit off the CIF topic, but to answer the question: HANA is available on SCM as of version 7.02. Here is a good link with some details on it.

 

Comment From Guest: Just implemented SAP TM9.0 and SAP EM9.0 with SAP Optimizer 10.0. ECC is EhP6. In past, I was able to use CIF cockpit to monitor CIF data transfer and troubleshoot any issue. What's the equivalent process/method to monitor and troubleshoot CIF-related issues and data transfer in the newer versions?

Claudio Gonzalez: As far as I know, the CIF Cockpit should be available as long as you have the SCM Suite. I do recommend using the following CCR report (/SAPAAPO/CCR) , Queue Manager (/SAPAPO/CQ) and CPP report (/SAPAPO/CPP) in conjunction with the CIF Cockpit to troubleshoot CIF-related issues.

 

Comment From Axel Völcker: Our ERP system has to provide two SAP systems with material master data. How can we set up the IM's for the Material Master data?

Claudio Gonzalez: You would create two integration models. Each integration model would have a different logical system. Each logical system is tied to a specific SAP SCM system.

 

Comment From Pavan Kumar Bhattu: I have two questions:

1) If we CIF Purchase info records with two purchase organization data, then how will it reflect in APO?

2) If we CIF Sub-contracting SNP PDS, then will it create any transportation lanes in APO?

Claudio Gonzalez:
1) The info record would CIF to APO and on the external procurement relationship. The different Purch Org would show under the General data tab. I am assuming the different Purch Org will have also a different destination location, which would then create two lanes  - this is the most common scenario.

2) Yes, when you CIF a Subcontracting PDS to APO, be that SNP or PP/DS, the system will create the lanes for the input components from the Manufacturing location to the Subcontracting location. The lanes from the Subcontracting location to the Manufacturing locations for the FG are created by the PIR or Contract.

 

Comment From AJ: Can you please further elaborate on PDS_MAINT in ECC?

Claudio Gonzalez: PDS_MAINT is a transaction in the ECC side that's used to update changes to PDS in APO. As of SCM 7.0 EHP1 you could not make changes to the PDS directly in APO. Thus, PDS_MAINT was used to make changes - for changes such as costing, priorities, consumption, bucket offset and so on. In EHP2 there is a functionality to mass maintenance PDS directly in APO, but it has its limitations and it seems that if you resend the PDS from ECC, it will overwrite the changes (need to verify this).

 

Comment From Ayyapann Kaaliidos: Is there no WEEKLY R/3 Consumption mode available in R/3? We are in ECC6 SP10. But we use WEEKLY Consumption mode in APO. We are in SCM 7.01 SP 5.

We had to handle this in user exit only, as we have configured CIF Master data update as Instant and the CIF will overwrite the values in APO if it's not handled in the user exit. Will this functionality be part of any future R/3 versions?

Claudio Gonzalez: I have not heard of any plans to add this functionality in ECC yet. But, before you go about modifying the CIF as to not override the ‘W' value in APO, try the following: ECC has a consumption mode ‘4' (Forward/Backward) which Is not supported by APO. I believe if you set it to this value, it would not override the APO value. It is not pretty, but it will save you a custom change.

 

Comment From Mukesh Lohana: What criterion determines whether inbound queues or outbound queues are faster? We use outbound queues and transfers for the huge planning data from APO to ECC. If we change to work with inbound queues to transfer data from APO to ECC, then in my understanding ECC will be responsible for handling the load the data. Since ECC is an execution system, and a lot of activities are occurring, will the change from outbound to inbound queues slow down the execution system (ECC)? What you suggest?

Claudio Gonzalez: Since this question is more technical than functional, let’s first quickly explain the difference between Outbound and Inbound:

- Communication Method: Outbound Queue - Calling system sends the queues to the receiving system without taking care of the system load of the receiving system. No scheduling of the processes happens in the receiving system. The can lead to overloading of the receiving system, which leads to deterioration of CIF performance with high data volume.

- Communication Method: Inbound Queue - Calling system sends the queues to the 'entrance' of the receiving system which allows the receiving system to control the system queue load on its own. Scheduling of the processes happen in the receiving system. Therefore, in theory this will lead to better CIF performance.

Based on the above and if you go through SAP recommendations, it is stated that if you have performance issues in the target system to use Inbound Queues.

At the end of the day, any actual performance degradation on the ECC side won't be known until the change is made and tested.

The following notes deal with how to change the communication from outbound to inbound: 388001, 388528, 388677.

Also, I always recommend to have note 384077 in your favorites, as it deals with how to optimize CIF communication and it is updated regularly. 

 

Comment from Brad: If transactional data goes real time to APO, what is the purpose of batch stock, sales orders, and purchase orders CIF jobs?

Claudio Gonzalez: Regardless of whether the data goes real-time or not - and, by the way, I recommend real time - you would need PO, Sales Orders and other transactional data to integrate into APO, so that your planning system has all the necessary data for accurate planning.

 

Comment From Ayyapann Kaaliidos: Why is the transfer of period loti size with lot indicator K not supported in standard CIF transfer from R/3 to APO? We had to handle this in user exit. Of course, there are differences as the R/3 planning calendar is 3 chars and the SCM planning is 10 chars.

Will this be taken care in future releases?

Claudio Gonzalez: The answer to this one is right in the question: It has not been supported thus far because of the planning calendar. I understand that if the planning calendar is not present in APO you would get an error, but in my opinion SAP should be able to create the planning calendar for you when sending the Lot Size with K to APO.  

I think this is just one of those things where it has not been a priority in the SAP Development radar. In the meantime, you have to use a BADi, as you are currently using.

By the way, I found some good details on the coding needed for this to happen if anyone else is interested.

 

Comment from Guest: Are there any restrictions to when the CIF can be running (i.e., do I need to make sure I'm not sending part changes while the planning run is occurring)?

Claudio Gonzalez: It is recommended that CIF activities, especially activation of integration models, happen prior the planning run. You are correct: you would not want master data to be transferred in the middle of a planning run.

Also, a lot of customers activate the CIFSTOPQUEUE and the CIFSTARTQUEUE to stop transactional data from moving between both systems during the planning run, and then they activate it again after the planning run is complete.

 

Comment From Julie G.: Claudio, can you touch/expand on CIF POSTPROCESSING ALERT and how it works?

Claudio Gonzalez: I have not used this functionality extensively, but I know that you can generate CIF postprocessing alerts in system via /SAPAPO/CPPA - CIF Error Handling. This way alerts can be mapped to send mails to the users to take action.  

 

Comment from Mark Smyth: When master data is changed in ECC (such as an item description),  should the change flow to APO automatically? Or is there a specific transaction that must be performed to push the change through?

Claudio Gonzalez: IF you have set up the change to be sent immediately in CFC9 transaction, then it will be sent immediately. Otherwise if it was set as an ALE, it will be sent at a later time via change pointers. These change pointers usually get processed via the integration model or through CFP1.

               

Comment From Brad Antalik:  Do you recommend running RCPTRAN4 during the day to ease the load on nighttime CIF batch jobs?

Claudio Gonzalez: This one it depends on how long it currently takes to run. If it is very performance intensive for your business, then it may make sense to run it during the day as long as it is run in the correct sequence.

 

Comment from Guest: Is the person monitoring the CIF usually the one fixing the issues? Or do they have MDM or Buyer/Planner type resources they push the information to, so they can change the data?

Claudio Gonzalez: Usually not - the resource monitoring the CIF would tell the master data steward and/or planner that an issue has occurred, and convey the type of error and what he thinks the root cause of the error is. Here is where there is sometimes a gap, since the person monitoring may not be able to give enough information to the master data steward on what the specifics are. Going from technical to functional can be tricky.

 

Comment from Guest: Do you consider the monitoring/unclogging of the CIF to be an IT or business function?

Claudio Gonzalez: This is definitely a gray area - as I mentioned before, a lot of errors by nature have a root cause of master data which is more functional, but to figure out the errors sometimes it takes some technical experience. Thus, I would say that it is a partnership between both IT and the business.

 

Comment from Guest: Can you CIF Quota arrangements?

Claudio Gonzalez: As far as I know, Quotas can not be transferred between ECC and APO. I would check if anything changed in Ehp2, but I did not see it as a new functionality.

 

Comment From Jeff B: You outlined Post-processing in your documentation, but didn't write much about the CCR Delta report. I'm just wondering why?

Claudio Gonzalez: CCR Delta Report is definitely an important part of the CIF daily activity. I can tell you that the way that is mostly used is as a batch job for the weekend planning run, in which the results are saved and then viewed at the beginning of the week for understanding of what needs to process. It can also be run online on a case-by-case basis.

 

Comment from Brad: How do you turn CIF error handling on and off?

Claudio Gonzalez: To turn error handling, you would have to do it at the CIF Post Processing configuration level. Here is the customizing path:

spro > SAP SCM Implementation guide > Integration with SAP components > Integration via CIF > Basic settings for data transfer > CIF Error handling > Activate CIF Error handling

 

Comment From Sean M: Is there any specific order in which I should create CIF integration models?

Claudio Gonzalez: Yes, the best practice that I follow is to first create all master data models and then transaction models and activate in that order. From a master data perspective I would follow this sequence: Location, Products, Resource, PIR, Contracts and PDS (depending on what you are using).

 

Comment from Stan H:  In your experiences with customer implementations, how are CIF issues monitored after go-live?

Claudio Gonzalez: From my experiences and as I mentioned on other questions, the production support team should be checking the CCR report for inconsistencies, Queue Manager (SAPAPO/CQ), the CIF Post Processing Report (/SAPAPO/CPP) to name a few.

 

Comment from Guest:  Is someone monitoring the CIF a full time job?

Claudio Gonzalez: Yes, this can definitely be considered a full time job. What makes it a challenge is finding the right resource to support it, as the CIF role can be very functional as well as very technical. Sometimes, customers add the CIF role to an existing APO master data role.

 

Comment from Guest: As APO is a planning system and a lot of information transfers from ERP to SCM and vice versa, sometimes we face blockage in CIF. If there is a blockage in CIF, there will be some pending data in queue so it's another issue.
What should be the best practice? Deleting blocked entries or working on the real issue to clear the block?

Claudio Gonzalez:  The best practice is to always try and find the root cause of the issue, otherwise it will never be resolved. Of course, the resolution can take some time.

My approach is that if an error is holding other orders from going through because they are on the same block size, then I delete the queue of the order that has the particular error, so that others can go through. Just be aware, that sometime it takes a while to even find out which one is causing the blockage.

 

Comment from Guest: Is the main task for CIF Supplying APO with the relevant master daily?

Claudio Gonzalez: The main CIF functionality is to integrate data between both ECC and APO. The data is divided between master data and transaction data.

               

Comment From Alex C: How does the CIF work? In a batch job?

Claudio Gonzalez: This one is a bit open ended, but basically the CIF is a standard integration tool provided by SAP to send and receive data between ECC and APO. It does not work on batch job sense. Transactional data is sent live and depending on what master data elements you are trying to send it can be immediate or via change pointer.

 

James Ciccone: Thanks for all the great questions!  We'll continue to try to get to as many as we can in the rest of the hour.

               

Comment From Frick: I am new to using CIF between APO and ECC.  We have been tasked to check /sapapo/ccr to look for issues to troubleshoot.  Can you walk through analysis of Orders missing in APO, Missing in R/3 w/o entry key, as well as Change Pointers and what they mean?  Thank you.

Claudio Gonzalez: The CCR report is a great tool to find inconsistencies between ECC and APO. The one downside is that some of the error messages are not very intuitive. For example, the one you provided on your question "Missing in R/3 w/o entry key":  This error is typically found when doing a consistency check on the Preq/PO area. But the actual root cause can be many different things,  for example, a component missing in the PDs in APO that's included in the PO in ECC.

I would check the master data completely on both sides.

Change Pointers are usually used, for example, when you create a plan in APO but do not send changes right away to the execution system. They can be saved as change pointers and then sent over to ECC at a later time.

 

Comment from Nancy: When many material master changes are made at one time, for example via MM17, the CIF often becomes 'clogged' up.  Each material master update appears to take several seconds. Is there anything we can do to improve the performance of material master updates?

Claudio Gonzalez: I would recommend breaking down the mass changes into different jobs, almost as parallel processing, instead of making one big MM17 change. Try that and see if you see any changes in performance.

               

Comment From Axel Völcker: Is there some documentation from SAP you can recommend for setup and using CIF?

Claudio Gonzalez: As part of my CIF sessions that I deliver at the SCM Insider, we include SAP best practice documentation related to CIF set-up and troubleshooting.

               

Comment From Sean M: If we want to contact Claudio about further in depth questions or assistance, how do we do that?

Claudio Gonzalez:  You can reach me at claudio.gonzalez@scmconnections.com.

I will also be delivering the CIF best practices session at the SAPinsider Vegas event on April 3.

SCM Connections will have a booth so make sure to stop by as well.

 

James Ciccone: Thanks to everyone who joined us today!

 I hope you’ll also join us at SCM 2014 April 1-4 in Las Vegas, where Claudio Gonzalez will be presenting his session as part of our SAP Advanced Planning & Optimization track in Vegas – we hope to see you there. Be sure to introduce yourself and say hello!  

Finally, a big thank you to Claudio Gonzalez of SCM Connections. Claudio, thanks for taking the time for these questions. It’ll be great to see you in Las Vegas in just a few weeks!  

 

Claudio Gonzalez:  Thanks James, and I am looking forward to seeing you and everyone here at the Vegas conference. 

 

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