Item categories are defined to provide additional control functions for the sales documents and thus meet the demands resulting from different business transactions. A separate control is defined for each of these item categories. For example, the functions of a standard item are completely different from those of a free-of-charge item or a text item.
The following graphic shows some of the item categories which are defined in the standard system. For instance, the first example displays the item categories for a standard item in the inquiry, in the quotation, and in the sales order.
Item Category Control
The system uses an item category to process a material differently in each sales document type. For example, you can define a different control for a material in an inquiry and a material in an order.
The following graphic shows an example of how a material is controlled in an inquiry and how it is controlled in an order.
In the inquiry, the standard item is priced but is not relevant for delivery. For the free-of-charge item, however, which is subordinate to the standard item, no pricing is carried out and it is not relevant for delivery.
In the sales order, the situation is different. Both items are relevant for delivery but pricing is carried out only for the standard item.
Control Elements in Item Categories
Depending on the sales document type, different item categories are allowed. The item categories can also be adapted using control elements to meet the special requirements of your installation. You can modify the existing item categories or you can create your own. Your system administrator is responsible for maintaining the control elements.
The answers to the following questions form the basis for deciding how to define a particular item category:
Should pricing be carried out for the item?
When should an item be regarded as completed? A quotation item, for example, can only be regarded as completed if the entire quantity has been copied into a sales order.
Does the item refer to a material or is it a text item?
Are schedule lines allowed for the item?
May general business data, for example, the terms of payment at item level, deviate from those at header level?
Should a system message appear if the item cannot be fully delivered?
Which fields are relevant for the incompletion log?
Which partner functions are allowed at the item level and which are mandatory?
Which output (for example, an order confirmation) is allowed for the business transaction and which output determination procedure is used?
Is the item relevant for delivery?
Should the weight and the volume of an item be determined?
Is an item relevant for billing?
Should the cost of the item be determined?
Is it a statistical item? The system prices statistical items, but they are not added to the value of the order. In other words, the customer is not charged for them.
Should a billing block be set automatically for an item? For example, this may be important for items whose prices have to be clarified before billing.
Is it a returns item?
Determining the Item Category
The item category in the sales document depends on the sales document type and the material. An item category group is defined in the material master record. For example, in the standard SAP System, the item category group NORM is defined for materials kept in stock and the group DIEN for services and non-stock material.
The following graphic shows how the system determines the item category. For a material with item category group NORM, the system determines the item category AFN for an inquiry (sales document type IN) and the item category TAN for a standard order (sales document type OR).
Determining the Item Category for Sub-Items
Services and free goods can be entered as separate items or can be allocated to other items. An item which is allocated to another one is called a sub-item. Determining the item category for sub-items depends on the higher-level item.
If a free goods item is allocated to a standard item in a standard order (item category TAN), the item category TANN is used for the sub-item in the standard version of the SAP System, and the sub-item is processed as a free-of-charge item.