As the end of 2017 draws nears, it is a good time to look back and recognize some of the advancements that were introduced, solutions devised and the successes realized in the past year. We all tend to move at a pace that doesn’t always allow us to just breathe and truly see our achievements. This year, more companies began to transform their businesses by strategizing and taking the first steps into their digital transformation. The introduction of new products, practices and successes are constantly introduced creating the opportunity to accelerate your digital transformation plan. These advancements are sometimes foreign and the functionality can be best explained by a team that is already engaged with the use. This blog continues our discussion of SAP S/4 features and how to manage product substitutions.

If you missed our earlier blogs, we discussed tips for S/4HANA 1610 Configuration, S/4HANA 1610 Execution and why S/4HANA is poised to become your customer master system of record.

Back to product substitutions in S/4 HANA and when you would want to use this feature. Recently, during a business requirement review, our team came across a requirement for an Alternative Material Option (AMO) which ultimately meant they wanted the system to identify Alternative or Substitute Materials that could be shipped on a Sales Order in place of similar materials that were not currently available. At this point, we presented the standard SAP functionality Product Substitution, which can determine an alternate material to replace a requested material entered in the Sales Order. We can also have one or multiple alternative materials designated for a specified material.

If a product is under engineering change, on quality hold, short inventory or other issues that prevent order fulfillment, and we have another product as an acceptable replacement, Product Substitution can be used to adjust and ship the Sales Orders. Simply put, material A can be replaced by material B and the order can ship.

From a terminology standpoint, Product Substitution is also known as Material Determination or Material Substitution.

There are many situations where Product Substitution can apply:

Scenario 1 – Advertising campaign / seasonal sales

Scenario 2 – Availability

Scenario 3 – Product Selection

Scenario 4 – Customer Material

Scenario 5 – International Article No. / EAN number

As an example, during the holiday shopping season, there will be some products with special holiday-specific gift wrapping. In this scenario, Product Substitution functionality could be useful to swap products from original product to gift wrapped product.

In addition to the retail example, this functionality can be useful in other industries such as manufacturing, engineering, consumer products, or chemicals.

Swapping can be based on certain business conditions, known as Substitution reasons. For each Substitution reason, you can define a Substitution Strategy. SAP will execute the Substitution either automatically following an availability check, replace product as directed on the material determination record, display a list of substitute products for users to select or replace material immediately without an availability check.

Another feature determines whether both original and substitute materials are displayed in the sales order or only the substitute material. We can control printing of either the original or substitute material on output types like order confirmations. With the delivery notes, Material Determination is carried out for new items if Material Determination has been activated for the corresponding sales document type.

What is new in S/4 1610

On the surface, there is no significant changes in S/4 HANA 1610 pertaining to product substitution, which we can see in the chart below comparing the functionality between ECC to S/4 HANA 1610. However, new Fiori apps deliver a noticeable improvement with data maintenance for product substitution. Fiori allows users to maintain the condition records using their smart devices / tablets.


Let’s navigate the configuration to setup material determination in S/4 1610:

Steps for Configuration
Step#1 Condition tables & field maintenance. Step # 5   Assign Sales Document Type to material determination procedure
Step #2 Condition tables are maintained in desired sequence of execution in Access Sequence. Step # 6 Define Substitution Reasons – we can define whether the substitute material can be displayed as a selection and we can define whether the material can be replaced or can be added as a line item.
Step#3 Assign access sequence to Condition Type for material determination Step # 7 Condition Records for material determination – Maintain values with substitution relevant materials and substitution reason based on desired key combination.
Step # 4 Maintain Material Determination Procedure.

IMG path: Sales and Distribution -> Basic Functions -> Material Determination as shown in the below screenshot.


Clicking Maintain Prerequisites for Material Determination displays the condition technique steps:

Create Condition table (Change / Display)

Maintain access sequences

Define condition type

Maintain Procedure

IMG path: Sales and Distribution -> Basic Functions -> Material Determination -> Maintain Prerequisites for Material Determination as shown in the screenshot below, it popped up as shown with the steps of condition technique listed above.

Step 1: Condition tables & field maintenance

The first step is to create a condition table – creation / change.

There are two possible options to create condition tables:

Create from scratch or copy from an existing table as shown in below screen shot.


Here table 501 is given in the selection field. Click ENTER

SAP reserved table from 001 to 500. For customers, SAP allows numbers 501 to 999.


From the field catalog, the required fields to be selected, will be shown on the left side as selected fields.


If any specific field is not listed in the field catalog, it cannot be selected here. An insert value must be entered by clicking on Maintain field catalog this is the first line in the screen print before Step # 1. They will be used here.

To add new fields in field catalog, click on New Entries, where a list of fields from tables KOMGD, KOMKD and KOMPD can be added in the catalog.


Step 2: Condition tables are maintained in desired sequence of execution in Access Sequence.

After successfully creating a condition table, maintain the access sequence with the following navigation path:

Create a new access sequence by clicking the New Entries button.


Select the Access sequence row as shown above and double click on Accesses on the left. Here you create an access number and assign relevant condition tables.


Select the access number row as shown above and double click on Fields on the left, to show the field overview as shown below.


Step 3: Assign access sequence to Condition Type for material determination

To create a new condition type, select Define Condition Types from the table before step number one. Click on New Entries or select an existing line and click Copy as icon on the application tool bar as shown below.

Condition Type e.g. Y001

Access Sequence – assign the access created in step number two. Example

A001 as seen above.

Populate the Valid From and Valid To Dates

Step 4: Maintain Material Determination Procedure.

An important step is to define the procedure with the list of condition types and their sequences. To create a new Procedure, select Maintain Procedure from the table before Step number one.. Click on New Entries or select an existing line and click the Copy As icon on the application tool bar as shown below.


Select the procedure as shown above and double click on ‘Control Data on the left side to show steps with a list of condition types. Save your data when completed.


Step # 5:   Assign Sales Document Type to material determination procedure

Next we will link these procedures with Sales Document Types.

IMG path: Sales and Distribution -> Basic Functions -> Material Determination -> Assign Procedures to Sales Document Types. Shown in the below screenshot.


Each sales document type may be assigned a Material determination procedure in the example below, Y00001.


Step # 6 Define Substitution Reasons

The last step in configuration is to define a substitution reason. There may be multiple reasons to substitute materials. These reasons will be available for selecting in Fiori when creating the Material Substitution.

IMG path: Sales and Distribution -> Basic Functions -> Material Determination -> Define Substitution Reasons

See below screenshot:


Define new entries and edit the different settings as needed.


Three fields are explained further below.


Substitution strategy

Controls whether product selection should occur automatically in the background or whether the alternative materials should be offered for selection in a dialog box. Product selection in the background is performed on the basis of the availability check.


Blank Automatic
A Substitute products are displayed for selection
B General material determination with selection, without ATP    

Outcome of substitution

This controls whether the outcome of product selection should replace the original entry or whether it should be recorded as a sub-item of the original entry.

Blank Item will be replaced
A Substitution products are displayed as subitems
B As in A but only when creating the item in Sales

Substitution category

In repair orders with service products (order type RAS in the standard system), when entering a serviceable material in the repair request item, the system performs material determination to find suitable service products for the serviceable material. If the system finds only one suitable service product, it automatically enters it in the Material field on the order overview screen. If there are several suitable service products, the system lists them so a section can be made.

The substitution category A, controls the service product that is entered automatically in the Material field on the repair request item screen. The serviceable material is also displayed in the Serviceable material field. However, the service product becomes the main material in the repair request item. This means that functions in the order such as pricing are performed for the service product and not the serviceable material.

A Equipment is substituted by service product (Service)

Step 7: Condition Records for material determination

This is last step in configuration; the relevant record will be maintained through transaction code – VB11 – Create / VB12 – Change / VB13 – Display.



VB12 – Change


VB13 – Display



Condition records can be maintained from mobile devices and tablets using Fiori with relevant applications. Those will be discussed further in my next blog.

The Difference with an End-to-End Approach

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