SAP ERP is a standard software system and can be adapted to companies in different industries. Even within the same industry, the organizational structures of companies can be quite different from each other, and it is unlikely that any two companies will look the same. The organizational structure in SAP ERP is used to identify all the different units a company is made up of. There are different organizational units for the various functions in a company, which are in turn covered by the different SAP modules.
The highest organizational unit in an SAP ERP system is the client. When we showed you how to log on to the SAP system, we already mentioned that you must enter a client with your logon data. You can think of a client as the top node of a group of companies that contains all the settings and data relevant for your entire organization. If your organization is a multinational corporation, you will usually put your complete organization into one client (for example, the global corporation “E.T.”, which we will introduce to you in this chapter could use client 800 for its global operations).
If your corporation consists of several sub organizations operating independently from each other (e.g. if “E.T.” was structured into an American, European and Asian branch), you could theoretically keep separate clients for them. However, clients are not totally independent from each other; there are a number of settings which affect all clients in the system so changing the settings in one client would affect all the others. So in practice, you will usually have only one client in your SAP ERP system. All the other organizational units in SAP ERP are dependent on the client. For every function in the system, like accounting, controlling, purchasing etc, there are several organizational entities that you can use to implement your organizational structure.