S/4HANA simplification of user-defined data types in classification system

Overview of SAP CA-CL classification system


SAP Classification System (CA-CL) is one of the most powerful and flexible functionalities in the ERP tool box. In a nutshell it lets you describe properties of objects like materials, batches, vendors; actually any object can be classified.


SAP Help gives the purpose of the classification system and an overview of the CA-CL functions


The classification system allows you to use characteristics to describe all types of objects, and to group similar objects in classes – to classify objects, in other words, so that you can find them more easily later.


You then use the classes to help you to find objects more easily, using the characteristics defined in them as search criteria. This ensures that you can find objects with similar or identical characteristics as quickly as possible.



Overview of the CA-CL functions (source: SAP Help)

Data types in the classification system


The properties of objects are defined as characteristics of the following data types:


  • CHAR Character
  • CURR Currency
  • DATE Date
  • NUM Numeric
  • TIME Time


Characteristics can have single or multiple values or even value ranges. If you think that just 5 data types is somehow restrictive, SAP has an ace up its sleeve (or I should’ve written had an ace up its sleeve – see below why) i.e. user-defined data types.


Refer to SAP Help on Introduction to User-Defined Data Types or read the blog post Waste Packaging Class on the use case of user-defined data types to define packaging waste – it’s a great article by the way; worth reading on its own.


Enter S/4HANA simplification


Recently, to my utmost astonishment, I’ve realized that SAP decided to sunset user-defined data types from S/4HANA. They are just not supported anymore!


See SAP notes:



Without a word of explanation, without any business or technical rationale, they just announce:


User Defined Data Type (031) for characteristics has been removed

Characteristic type 031 is not supported anymore and you are not able to create new characteristic with type 031.


Just like that…


It makes me wonder why intelligent ERP would drop the ball on such a useful, flexible and needed feature as user-defined types.


If you are a user of those types and plan to migrate to S/4HANA, you will still be able use the existing user-defined types after the conversion – note 2213569 – SAP S/4 HANA: Recommendations for adaptations of custom code in the classification system reads:


If you have any existing user defined data type, you can use it after the upgrade.


However you won’t be able to define new types. Hence your solution will be frozen and you won’t be able to adjust it to your future needs!


The fact that user-defined data types are still operational in S/4HANA, but cannot be defined anymore makes the simplification even more disturbing and confusing.


Improvement proposal


In my opinion, lack of user-defined types seriously handicaps the classification system, its flexibility and usability. Therefore I’ve submitted an improvement proposal to get them back to S/4HANA.


If you share my view, please vote by following the link

Unblock user-defined types in CA-CL classification system

and support the improvement


At least 6 votes are required so that SAP will put a team on this to investigate the request and hopefully rule favorably.


Every vote counts!


Follow the link to SAP Customer Influence for SAP S/4HANA Cloud User Documentation for detailed rules of engagement.