Understanding “Real” versus “Statistical” Objects in Controlling

When I began my SAP career back in the late nineties, there was a lot of emphasis on the theoretical aspect of the application. Before you even logged into the system it was essential that you understood the difference between FI and CO, and were knowledgeable about concepts such as primary versus secondary cost elements, real versus statistical objects, assessments versus distributions, and so on. Nowadays, knowledge about these theoretical concepts of the system is not as widespread, perhaps due to the reduced technical nature of the user interface (leading to users not seeing the need to learn the technical fundamentals of the system) and the lowered barriers to entry into the SAP consulting market (for example, there is less emphasis on training certification).

However, based on certain questions that I have been asked, and some inaccurate information that I have read, I feel there is a need to clarify some of the conceptual aspects of the FI and CO modules. In this blog I will talk about the concepts of Real and Statistical CO objects.

The system has a priority for choosing which CO objects are posted as real or statistical transactions. The difference between real and statistical is quite simple. Real postings are those that form part of the transactional balance in the controlling module. For example, if the only item in a cost center was a real posting of $100, then the balance of that cost center will be $100. Statistical postings on the other hand are those that do not form part of the transactional balance in the controlling module. For example, if the only item in a cost center was a statistical posting of $100, them the balance of that cost center will be $0. However the statistical posting will appear in the cost center reports, but will be for informational purposes only.

Another major difference between real and statistical postings is that real postings can be allocated to other cost objects (for example, by using assessments, distributions or primary cost repostings) since these values form part of the balance of the controlling object. Statistical postings however, cannot be reallocated. Also, you cannot specify only a statistical object in a posting when a cost element is used, as the system will require you to enter a real object.

When a posting is made to more than one cost object, the system has a priority which it uses to determine which of the objects is treated as real and which is treated as statistical. The below cost objects are listed in order of this priority:

  • Profitability Segment
  • Sales Order (for Make-to-Order postings)
  • WBS Element
  • Internal Order
  • Cost Center

Note that the term statistical is also confused, because when used in the context of the Sales and Distribution module, it means something entirely different. I have heard people say that a statistical sales condition does not get posted to FI (and CO). However, in the SD sense, the term “statistical” means that the value does not roll into the price charged to the customer. The general ledger account linked to the statistical condition does get posted to the general ledger (and to controlling if there is a CO Object).

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