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2. The Personality of SAP Business One

In This Chapter

Getting acquainted with a new software application is like trying to find your way around a city you have never visited before. In New York City, for example, once you understand the grid of numbered streets and the way avenues are numbered, named, and lettered, you can figure out pretty quickly where any address is. In Paris, you need to know that the arrondissements go clockwise starting from the center of the city so that you can use your Plan du Paris to consult a map to find the street and the closest metro stop.

But the geography of a city is only a start. An enjoyable day in the city starts with a visit to one destination, then moves from one spot to the next: from breakfast at the hotel, to a museum, to a nightclub.

This chapter is all about helping you get your bearings so that when you look at an SAP® Business One screen, you know what you are looking at. Getting to know the SAP Business One application means understanding the map of the different types of information stored (the geography) and also knowing how a business transaction is recorded and tracked (the enjoyable trip).

Innovative features such as Drag and Relate TM, user-defined fields and tables, and formatted searches will quickly give you control over your business processes and real-time insight into your company's performance. We are sure that you'll find SAP Business One easy to use with its intuitive navigation and familiar look and feel. And before too long you'll learn just how flexible and integrated it is.

Getting Started

To start SAP Business One, double-click the icon shown in Figure 2-1.

Figure 2-1: Starting SAP Business One, logging in, and choosing a company

The first screen that you see is the login screen where you enter your user name and password. At the bottom right of the login screen, you can click the Change Company button to select a different company to work with. Some organizations use multiple SAP Business One companies, keeping track of different companies, divisions, or business activities as separate companies.

SAP Business One comes with a sample company that is fully populated with data. This company can be used as a training ground for accelerating learning or testing new ways of using SAP Business One. The latest version of the sample company can be downloaded from SAP Business One Customer Portal, described later in this chapter in "Finding Answers to Your Questions." Once you have successfully logged in, the learning process can begin.



Understanding the Personality of SAP Business One

Before we move into a detailed explanation of the user interface, we want to give you a sense for the style, or personality, of SAP Business One. The first time someone shows you the SAP Business One main window and the main menu, it all looks pretty simple. Then you ask a question: How can we find purchase orders related to a given supplier? Without hesitating a second, whoever is showing you the program clicks on the main menu a couple of times, brings up a blank purchase order screen, enters the name of the supplier, and, quick as a flash, there is a purchase order for that supplier.

You can now scroll through and see all of the purchase orders for that supplier. Let's say you want to see the items on a purchase order. You simply click on a tab and can look at them. You want to see the details for one item? One click, and you have the item screen. What warehouse is that item stored in? Another click, and you're looking at it. Before you realize it, you've accessed a number of screens. The most common reaction at this point is, well, that was fast. But where am I? And what can I do next?

Once you read this chapter, you'll know where you were, where you are, and where you need to go next. And once you work with SAP Business One for just a bit, you won't want to work with any application that isn't as convenient and easy to use. But to get to this destination - the place where it all makes sense - you need to spend some time with a guide.

What happens in the moment when SAP Business One makes sense is that you see how the screens that you are looking at are connected to both the top-down way of finding information through the main menu and the transactional, process-oriented connections between each document in the application. You start to understand how each document in SAP Business One is constructed from reusable parts. Once you get all of this, SAP Business One is a snap. Our tour of the personality of SAP Business One starts by describing these structures.

Building Documents from Reusable Parts

SAP Business One tracks business activities using documents such as purchase orders, invoices, production orders, sales quotations, and so on. Each of these documents is constructed from smaller reusable chunks of data called master data. Master data, a topic covered in detail in Chapter 4, refers to the key information that describes your customers, vendors, and leads as well as items that your company buys and sells. Figure 2-2 shows how a document - a purchase order - is constructed from master data.

Figure 2-2: How SAP Business One documents are built from reusable master data

Creating documents from master data increases productivity, ensures data consistency, and reduces errors. As you learn more about SAP Business One, you will come to appreciate the benefits of building documents from reusable master data.

Opening Documents Using the Main Menu

The second key thing to learn about SAP Business One is how to put the main menu to work to help you find documents or master data records. When you first start SAP Business One, the Main Menu is shown. Using the Main Menu, as shown in Figure 2-3, you can open links leading to screens from which you can search for a particular document or scroll through all the documents of a particular type.

Figure 2-3: Top-down navigation from the Main Menu

Navigation reminder: all roads lead through the Main Menu. It is important to remember that all of the functions of SAP Business One are accessible through the Main Menu. The Main Menu is one of the starting points to find documents, master data records, and run reports; perform administrative functions; start wizards; and so on. As you learn SAP Business One, the Main Menu will become the equivalent of your home page.

The Transactional and Process Structure of Information in SAP Business One

To record all of the relevant activity related to a business process, a sequence of documents must be used and the links between them must be recorded. Let's take a look at the sales process. First, a lead is recorded as master data, followed by sales activities such as calls and meetings. Eventually a sales quotation is issued, which may lead to a sales order and then an invoice. When a payment comes in, it must be reconciled with the invoice. So there is a stream of activity from document to document in which each step in the business process is recorded.

Each step is an individual business transaction in the most general sense of the word. A business process for selling or ordering supplies may require many transactions in sequence. One of the application's strongest features is the way that it allows you to use one document to create the next in a sequence. SAP Business One also keeps track of the connections between the documents so that you can move through the sequence of documents related to a particular transaction. The transactional connections between documents are maintained in a variety of ways that are explained in this chapter and in later chapters.

Questions for Increasing Your Understanding

The moment of clarity, the moment that the personality of SAP Business One becomes crystal clear, happens after you have used it for a little while, and the concepts we have presented are confirmed and made concrete by actual experience. So far, this chapter has prepared you to ask the following questions any time you are faced with a new screen:

  • Is this a document? Is this master data? Is this screen something else and, if so, how does it relate to documents and master data?
  • How does this screen fit in the top-down structure or in the transactional and process-oriented structure of SAP Business One?
  • How can I get to this screen from the main menu?
  • What process-oriented navigation allows me to find related documents and master data from this screen?
  • Does this screen display data, allow me to search for data, or allow me to add data?

One of the innovations of SAP Business One is the way that the design naturally incorporates both top-down navigation through the main menu and process-oriented relationships, as well as navigation, search, and document creation mechanisms based on those relationships. The rest of this chapter explains all of these mechanisms in detail so that whenever you look at a screen you understand exactly what you are looking at



Knowing Where You Are

One powerful aspect of SAP Business One is that it is possible to have many windows open at once, each of which may show a different document or master data record. The main window provides a context for all your work in SAP Business One.

The Main Window

The main window opens automatically upon launching SAP Business One and is the central place where you can initiate any task. Only the main window has a menu bar along the top. It also has a toolbar with icons that provide easy access to commonly used functions. It includes the Main Menu, which we now look at more closely.

The SAP Business One Main Menu

As shown in Figure 2-4, the Main Menu has three tabs:

  • The Modules tab shows the top of the SAP Business One hierarchy. It lists all the modules in SAP Business One. Inside each module is a list of functions. Click on a function to launch it or to expand it and see more selections.
  • The Drag and Relate tab is used for an innovative method of finding transactions linked to master data, as explained later in this chapter.
  • The User Menu is a customizable menu for quick access to your most commonly used functions, similar to bookmarks in a Web browser. For more information, see "User Menu and User-Defined Shortcuts" later in this chapter.

If you don't see the Main Menu, you can get to it from the menu bar by choosing WindowMain Menu or by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + 0 (zero, not the letter O).

Figure 2-4: SAP Business One Main Menu

The Menu Bar and Pull-Down Menus

The SAP Business One menu bar is displayed across the top of the main window. Clicking on each menu item displays a pull-down menu that leads to more choices. Shortcuts using the Alt and Ctrl keys work the same way they do in many desktop applications.

Figure 2-5: SAP Business One menu bar and toolbar

The menu bar includes the following menus:

  • File: Primary commands, such as Close, Print, Preview, Export to, and Launch Application
  • Edit: General editing commands, such as Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete
  • View: Commands that change the view of the data in the window, such as User-Defined Fields, Search Field, System Information, Restore Column Width, and Legend
  • Data: Commands that manipulate application data as well as commands for moving between records, manipulating rows in a table, and other editing commands pertinent to data
  • Goto: Dynamic menu that changes according to the currently selected window
  • Modules: Modules shown in the Main Menu
  • Tools: Commands such as Print Layout Designer, Form Settings, User Menu, User Shortcuts, and User-Defined Fields
  • Window: Commands associated with managing windows, including access to Main Menu, Messages/Alert Overview, and Calendar
  • Help: Commands that provide access to online help

The Toolbar

The toolbar is just below the menu bar. It is a collection of icons that provide easy access to commonly used functions. The same functions are also available as menu options from the menu bar.

Active functions are shown in color while inactive or unauthorized functions are in gray. To hide or display a toolbar icon group, place your cursor on the toolbar, right-click, and then check or uncheck the appropriate boxes. Toolbar icons are context sensitive, that is, they change depending on what you are doing.

If you forget what a particular icon does, simply move the cursor over the button to display a tooltip.

The Status Bar

The status bar extends along the entire lower edge of the SAP Business One main window and contains various fields.

  • The bottom-left area of the status bar displays the following types of messages:
    • An error message appears over a red background and informs you that the procedure cannot continue until corrective action is taken.
    • An information message appears over a blue background and informs you about an issue that does not prevent the procedure from continuing.
    • A confirmation message appears over a green background and informs you about the successful execution of a procedure.
  • The middle of the status bar contains the current date and time as defined in the server.
  • The top-left area displays important information about the active window. For example, when you move your cursor over an input field, text describing the input format and length appears.

Figure 2-6: Anatomy of the status bar

Document Windows

Now that you have the big picture of the main window, it's time to explain some of the general rules of the SAP Business One user interface.

Window Operation Modes

There are four possible window operation modes in SAP Business One:

  • Add: Add a new record or document
  • Find: Search for existing records or documents
  • View: View an existing record or document
  • Update: Modify the data of an existing record or document

Windows in SAP Business One have a default mode, which can be either "add" or "find," depending on the context of what you're doing. For example, when you choose the Business Partner Master Data or the Item Master Data window, it opens automatically in find mode because you will most often want to display information that has already been entered. When you want to process a sales order or purchase order, on the other hand, the window opens automatically in add mode because you usually want to add a new purchase order.

How do you know what mode you're in? The button in the bottom-left corner of the window changes to Add, Find, OK (for view mode), or Update, according to the current mode of the window.

You can switch between operation modes in several ways:

  • To add a new object (such as a document or master data record), use the add function. There are several ways to activate the add function, such as the following:
    • From the menu bar, choose DataAdd
    • Press Ctrl + A on the keyboard
    • From the toolbar, choose the add icon
  • To find an existing object (such as a document or master data record), use the find function. SAP Business One displays the object in find mode, with the Find button at the bottom-left corner of the window. There are several ways to activate the find function, including the following:
    • From the menu bar, choose DataFind
    • Press Ctrl + F on the keyboard
    • From the toolbar, choose the find icon
  • When you enter or change data in an existing object, SAP Business One automatically switches to update mode, causing the Update button to appear at the bottom-left corner of the window. Click on the Update button to save data you entered or changed; click on the Cancel button if you don't want to save or update data.

Switching operation modes alert. You cannot always change data in a document or a master data record once it has been added. At certain points, documents become read-only if the business process related to the document has progressed beyond a certain stage or when one document has been copied to another. Data that cannot be changed is grayed out, and an error message appears in the status bar if you attempt to change it.

Context Menu

When you are working in any window, you can click the right mouse button to activate a context menu that provides access to the most commonly used functions for that section of the window. In some cases, when you right-click in a field, you see a context menu that provides a list of functions related to the field. Because these functions are context-sensitive, the options change, depending on the area of the screen you click on.

Row Details

Sales and purchasing documents include tables that provide information about quantities, prices, and descriptions. To work with these tables easily and extend the view available on the screen, you can open the Row Details window. This window allows you to view or edit rows in a table, such as that found in the Contents tab of a sales document.

The Row Details window shown in Figure 2-7 can be opened by right-clicking the row header of the required item, by pressing Ctrl + L, or by selecting Row Details from the menu bar's Goto menu. Some fields are "read only" and appear in gray. If a field is editable, once you enter the new data, the field is updated automatically---that is, there is no OK or Update button in this window.

Figure 2-7: Accessing the Row Details window



Finding What You Are Looking For

SAP Business One provides you with extensive support for searching for objects (sales and purchasing documents, and business partner and item master records). The two main methods are discussed below: looking up business partners and items and using the toolbar arrows to scroll through documents or master data records of a certain type.

Looking Up Business Partners and Items

SAP Business One makes it easy to look up business partner and item information while you are entering sales and purchasing documents. Figure 2-8 demonstrates how to use the selection list button to look up a customer or item.

Figure 2-8: How to look up customers and items in a sales order

After you press the selection list button, a selection list appears in a separate window. You can move through the list quickly by typing the first character of either the business partner code or item number; the selection list scrolls as you type.

If you are more familiar with customer names and item descriptions than with their codes, you can use a "wildcard" to search. For example, to display a selection list of customers whose names begin with "Ch," go to the Name field, type Ch followed by the wildcard character " * " (Ch*), and then press Tab to display the list.

If you know that only one customer name starts with "E," for example, simply type E (without the wildcard character) in the Name field and press Tab. SAP Business One fills in the information for that customer in the sales order. The Item Description field works the same way for finding item information.

Using Toolbar Arrows to Find Documents

One easy way to scroll through documents or master data of a particular type is to use the arrows on the SAP Business One toolbar (see Figure 2-9). If you display a purchase order (by selecting Purchase Order from the SAP Business One Main Menu), you can use the arrow keys to quickly scroll through all the purchase orders you have. This works for any type of document in SAP Business One, such as sales orders, A/R invoices, and so forth.

Click the double arrows to move to the first or last document; click the single arrows to move to the next or previous document. Next and previous are determined by document number. To see the last few purchase orders you entered, for example, in the Purchase Order window, click the right double arrow to go to the last purchase order and then click the left single arrow to move to previous ones.

Figure 2-9: Using the SAP Business One toolbar arrow buttons



Getting Where You Want To Go

SAP Business One has some unique features that allow you to navigate quickly and successfully locate the information you need. This section explains some of these navigational features.

Orange Arrow Navigation

The orange arrow  that appears in almost every window is perhaps the most powerful tool in the application's user interface. Wherever you see it, you can click on it to display a master data record (as shown in Figure 2-10) or the details of master data settings, such as tax codes or payment terms. Sometimes orange arrows lead to linked documents, such as a base document or a journal entry. The arrows enable you to drill down to more detail about a transaction without having to perform a search or traverse a top-down menu structure.

Figure 2-10: Using the navigation arrow to navigate from an invoice to master data

Drag and Relate

The Drag and Relate feature is an interactive tool that allows you to display a wide array of real-time information about your business quickly and easily. Drag and Relate generates ad hoc views of data by linking master data elements to transactions. The feature searches transactions as well as master data, such as G/L accounts and business partners.

You can compare just about any two objects within SAP Business One. For example, you can link a customer code to the sales order object and get a list of all sales orders for a particular customer. By dragging a master data object onto the list of transaction types on the Drag and Relate tab, you can gain an excellent overview of your company's performance in certain areas. In addition, you can further refine the resulting list by using the filter function (for example, selecting only open sales orders).

Figure 2-11 illustrates how you can use the Drag and Relate feature to get a list of A/P invoices for a particular item.

Figure 2-11: Using Drag and Relate to find A/P invoices for a particular item

User Menu and User-Defined Shortcuts

You can increase your navigation efficiency by using the User Menu and creating user-defined keyboard shortcuts for one-step access to frequently opened documents.

For example, if you work in purchasing and are responsible for issuing purchase orders and updating business partner master data, save the Purchase Order and Business Partner Master Data window in your User Menu under Forms to provide easy access (see Figure 2-12). To save an item in the User Menu, display the document, report, or form that you want to add to the User Menu. With that window as the active window, choose ToolsUser MenuAdd to User Menu.

Figure 2-12: Saving frequently used documents to the User Menu

On the other hand, if you are a very busy purchasing agent for a manufacturing company and even two clicks are too far away for a purchase order, SAP Business One permits you to assign certain documents to function keys, such as F1, F2, and so on.

Figure 2-13: Creating user-defined keyboard shortcuts

Display Settings

You can change several display settings to personalize your SAP Business One workplace. You can add a company logo or staff photo to the desktop. Other settings include user interface language, font size, color, and date and time formats.

Form Settings

In SAP Business One, each user can easily customize the content and behavior of most windows using the Form Settings function.

To activate Form Settings, make sure the window you want to customize is open and active, then click on  in the toolbar or choose ToolsForm Settings.

Although the Form Settings window does vary depending on the content of window you are customizing, the typical Form Settings window is divided into three tabs:

  • Table Format tab: Customize how columns appear in the table (for those windows that contain a table)
  • Row Format tab: Determine how fields appear in the Row Details window associated with the table in the window you are customizing
  • Document tab: Make changes to the general settings related to the window and the table that you are customizing---but you should note that the changes you make in this tab affect only the current document, and not all documents of this type

The Form Settings function is a very powerful feature. SAP Business One has many fields that are not shown by default. Using Form Settings, you can select which fields are visible and which can be changed (the term for this is "active"). You can rearrange the order of fields by clicking on a field name and dragging it up or down. One common customization is to display the warehouse from which an item will ship on the Sales Order window. In Figure 2-14, we used the Table Format tab to make the Whse field both visible and active, and we repositioned the field so that it displays without the need to scroll to the right or open the Row Details window.

Figure 2-14: Using the Form Settings function

Customizing Field Names

Changing the names of fields in SAP Business One is remarkably easy. One of the most common customizations of the Purchase Order window is to change the Vendor Ref. No. field to Vendor Invoice No. Changing this or any field can be accomplished by holding down the Ctrl key and double-clicking the field name. A window then pops up that allows the field name to be changed or the original name to be restored.

Figure 2-15. Changing field names

Adding User-Defined Fields and Tables

While SAP Business One provides a comprehensive set of fields in each of its modules, your company may need additional fields to pursue day-to-day work or to conform to particular business practices. The User-Defined Fields function (found on the Tools menu) lets you create your own fields in existing SAP Business One master data or transaction tables.

Portal pointer. For detailed, step-by-step instructions on user-defined fields and tables, go to SAP Business One Customer Portal at and download the "How to Create User-Defined Fields and Tables" guide.

Filling in Fields with Formatted Search

Another example of the robust flexibility of SAP Business One is its formatted search functionality. Formatted search can be used to calculate values or to display defaults for both SAP Business One fields and user-defined fields.

For example, you might want the sales order to display what is available to promise, in stock, and on order. In this case, you would use the User-Defined Fields function to add these additional fields and the formatted search function to fill in default or calculated values in these fields. Because formatted search is a complicated feature, you may want to perform these types of customizations with the help of your implementation partner.

You can use formatted searches to enter values automatically into fields using various objects or a predefined list, to create conditional relationships between fields (for example, the value of field X = Y if and only if the value of field A = B), and in many more cases.



Finding Answers to Your Questions

In addition to the support and training that your implementation partner can provide, a wealth of information about SAP Business One features and functions is available through online help as well as on the customer portal.

Online Help

You can use SAP Business One online help in several ways. If you press F1, you get context-sensitive help; that is, help about the particular part of the screen (and, in some cases, even the particular field) you are on.

Selecting Help ? Help from the main window menu bar displays an SAP Library window, which allows you to search for key words or browse through a table of contents. The online help provides details about many aspects of working with SAP Business One. If you are working with an unfamiliar screen and want to gain an understanding of its contents, you can find definitions of every field on the screen in the online help.

SAP Business One Customer Portal

SAP Business One Customer Portal provides resources to help you master SAP Business One.

The portal is organized into areas for different types of activities, such as:

  • Get Support: Collaborate with your implementation partner on technical support issues, search SAP Notes database, or request a license key
  • Solution Overview: Review general information about the application and learn more about how to integrate SAP Business One with the mySAP TM Business Suite family of business applications
  • Documentation: Find documentation for the latest release, including release notes, how-to guides, and other useful guides on specific features and functions
  • Education: View e-learning units on the key components of SAP Business One modules including accounting, banking, master data, purchasing, and sales!

Figure 2-16: Using SAP Business One Customer Portal

SAP Business One Customer Portal is available in seven languages and is accessible at You need a valid S-user name and password to log in. Consult with your implementation partner to get these.


SAP Business One ...To Go is not intended to be binding upon SAP to any particular course of business, product strategy and/or development.

Please note that this document is subject to change and may be changed by SAP at any time without notice.

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