Working with Reports SAP BASIS

Reports in the SAP systems are typically ABAP programs whose function is to look up information in the database and display it or print it. When end users perform their usual work with the SAP systems, they often need to look up information to analyze, to see business results, to make decisions, or simply to continue the work. This type of extracting, collecting, and formatting of the data held on the database is performed by the SAP reports. SAP distinguishes two terms in this environment: a report is the program itself, and a list is the result (the output) of the report. End users don't have to program the reports themselves because the SAP system includes virtually thousands of preprogrammed reports.

These reports can be the result of normal menu function selections, and often users don't even know that they are executing reports, except for the result displayed on the screen or sent to the printer. In these cases, the data already entered in the fields of a screen act as search terms for the reports. However, sometimes end users, and administrators too, have the need to call a report manually using the functions and facilities provided by the SAP system. How to work with reports managing these manual calls is the purpose of this section.

The general reporting facilities of the SAP systems can be found under the System | Services | Reporting menu (transaction code SA38). With this function, users can start reports when they know the name of the reports.

Report selection screen

Report selection screen

To start the report, enter the report name in the field and click on the Execute button. Most reports have selection criteria to delimit the scope of the search and the expected results. Some reports, however, do not have selection criteria, so when executing the report, the results are shown immediately. If the report includes selection criteria, the corresponding screen appears, where users must enter the criteria they want to use for the report results. Criteria are the search terms, and the use of wildcards is allowed.

Once the criteria are entered, press the Execute button again or select Program | Execute in Background from the main menu to submit the report as a background job. A common way to enter selection criteria automatically is with the use of variants. A variant is a collection of predefined criteria to use in reports. When using variants, users can execute reports with any variant available for that report, in which case, they don't have to enter selection criteria. For example, regional sales managers executing a report to see the sales evolution in their territory can use the same report but with different variants. The only difference in the variants is that in the selection criteria one has region A and another one has region B.

To start a report manually with the reporting functions, users must know the report name. In the SAP system, most standard report names start with letter R. However, customercreated reports should start with letters Y or Z.Reports are grouped in classes, for example, sales reports, stock movements, and projects. Report classes can be very useful for finding report names. To find report names, from the reporting screen select Utilities | Find Program from the menu. The system shows the ABAP program directory search screen. The report search screen (titled ABAP Program Directory) appears.

Program directory selection screen

Program directory selection screen

In the Program field enter the part of the report name to search for and use wildcards (* or +). The * wildcard replaces multiple characters, whereas the + wildcard replaces a single character. For example, RSM* will find all reports starting with RSM, and RS++V46* will find all reports starting with RS and having the string V46 after two characters. Wildcards can be used anywhere in the field and as often as you want. For example, Z*PS* will find all reports starting with Z (customer-developed reports) and having PS anywhere in the middle strings.

Once the Program field is specified, press the Execute button. The system will display a list of reports matching your criteria or a list of report classes. If the latter is displayed, you have to double-click on any line to display a list of reports belonging to the class. Repeat the process until you find the report needed. Once the report is found, it can be directly called from this screen by positioning the cursor over the line and pressing the Execute button or by choosing the Program | Execute function from the menu bar. The difference with this process in respect to the reporting screen is that if the report requires a variant, it won't allow the execution from this screen.

Users can find the name of the report directly within their usual tasks and so are able to call it even when they are working on different menus or applications. To find the name of the report, first call the report within the normal tasks and select System | Status from the menu bar. The name of the report appears in the Program field.

The selection criteria are input fields that allow users to delimit the type and amount of information they want the report to process. If no criteria are specified, the result of the report execution can be a long list including data that are not needed for the users. For example, to analyze materials movements in a warehouse, users should enter the warehouse ID as the criteria. The report will process and display only lists matching the selection criteria specified. Selection criteria are not limited to specific values for the input fields.

ome input fields permit the introduction of value ranges and multiple ranges, for example, if you want to display those customers that have been billed between $1000 and $5000 or if you want to search for customers in the states starting with A and C, plus Pennsylvania. As more values are entered in the selection criteria fields, the output can be more specific and the lists will be smaller. If the system can't return all data because of processing limitations (for example, because it exceeds the maximum time for online processing), it displays a message in the statusbar.

Often in a report you find two types of selection criteria

  • Database selections, which determine which records are selected from the database
  • Program selections, which are an additional filler to tell the system which of the fields from the records selected will be displayed on the list You can get the additional selection options by positioning the cursor in the input field and clicking on the Selection Options button on the application toolbar. By using the selection options and the multiple selection arrow, users can specify complex search criteria, including multiple value ranges, AND and OR conditions, and so forth.

A variant is a group of values used as selection criteria or as parameters when calling a report or another type of ABAP program. Variants are attached to a report, which means that a variant cannot be used except for the report for which it was created. The group of values for the selection criteria is saved and assigned a variant name; so every time you want to call a program or a report, instead of specifying the selection criteria, you could call a previously saved variant, thus avoiding having to type the criteria over again. In fact, when using variants, the screen for entering the selection criteria does not appear. Variants are a great help for simplifying data input when launching reports, and they ensure that reports have some selection criteria to limit the results. Users can have as many variants for a report as they wish.

Each variant can be used to retrieve different types of information. For example, the same report that retrieves the monthly warehouse inventory could have different variants—one for each warehouse location—so each manager uses the variant according to his or her location. At the initial reporting screen, when users don't know which variants are available, they can display a list of the variants that are attached to the report, and they can also see the values assigned to the selection criteria. To do that, users just have to enter the report name and click on the Overview of Variants button on the application toolbar. The system displays the available variants. To see the contents, click on one variant to select it, and click on the Display button on the application toolbar, or choose Edit | Display Values from the main menu.

To enter a variant for a report, after calling the reporting function and specifying the report name, click on the Execute with Variant button, or in most standard application reports, click on the Get Variant... button. The system displays a dialog box to specify the variant name from the Variant Directory of the specific program or report. According to your specific report, you can either enter the variant name, select the variant from the list, or click on the possible entries arrow to find which variants are available for the report. Once you select the variant, click on the Execute button in the same dialog box.

Variant directory

Variant directory

Creating Variants

To create variants for reports, go to the main reporting screen (System | Services | Reporting), enter the name of the report for which you want to create the variants, and select Goto | Variants | Save as Variant from the menu. The system displays the initial screen for the ABAP variants, or you might get a Change Screen Assignment dialog box in cases where the program includes more than one selection screen. Enter a name for the variant and click on the Create button. At this moment, SAP shows the selection criteria screen for the report specified previously. In the input fields, enter the criteria and click on the Attributes button. The system displays the screen for specifying the attributes for the variant. In the Description field, enter a brief description for the variant so that you can distinguish the purpose of the variant when looking at the variants overview.

In this screen there are three check boxes where users can specify environment options for the variant:

  • By selecting Only for Background Processing, you tell the system to send the processing of the variant to the background processing system.
  • With the Protect Variant option, only the user who created the variant can modify it or delete it.
  • By selecting the check box next to Only Display in Catalog, you tell the system that the variant name will appear in the variant catalog, but not in the input help. The bottom part of this screen shows additional field attributes corresponding to the specific report for which the variants are being created.

Once all needed values are specified, click on the Save button in the standard toolbar to save the variant.

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