Why does CO-PA still gain so much traction in the midst of all the robust reporting tools that have emerged over the course of the last decade? The reason is that even though the other tools are able to replicate CO-PA’s functionality, they do not have the same integration capabilities with the source data (which is usually in the ECC system). There are many data warehousing tools that perform the same function as CO-PA, collating all of the data from the system and providing analytical capabilities based on different dimensions (commonly referred to as slice and dice capability).
However, these tools exist outside of the ECC system and data needs to be extracted and uploaded between systems using interfaces or other connectors. Neither of these options are ideal scenarios, particularly when you are dealing with financial information which, if at all possible, needs to be real-time and integrated to ensure accuracy and timeliness. It is no accident that one of the first SAP HANA accelerators integrated with the ECC system connected to CO-PA.
Don’t get me wrong, not everyone is in love with CO-PA. I have some clients who do not want to hear the term even being used in relation to reporting. Anytime I hear this, the reason for the antipathy normally stems from a common theme – they do not trust the numbers. This obviously seems strange for an all-encompassing integrated system like SAP. It would be understandable if CO-PA was an application that was not embedded in the ECC system, such as Business Warehouse, Business Objects, Strategic Enterprise Management, etc. However, that is not the case. CO-PA is part of the Controlling module within the ECC system and hence, is expected to be fully integrated with the Financials module thereby reducing any reconciliation issues. Unfortunately, the module is not as seamlessly integrated with the Financials module as one would hope.
SAP has made several attempts to try and resolve this reconciliation issue. For example, you cannot post a billing document to financial accounting if a CO-PA value field has not been mapped to a condition. Also, there is a transaction (KEAT) that makes strides towards performing a reconciliation function by showing the differences between FI, SD and CO-PA. And of course, you have the account-based approach to CO-PA which can help you produce CO-PA reports using accounts and not value fields allowing you make a comparison with costing-based CO-PA reports. However, none of these options is a complete reconciliation solution.