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You need to map the vendor item codes to your standard item codes, or international standard codes.
You can do it by using descriptive flexfields to store supplier item, create a mapping table of items in database then use custom.pll to customize for as soon as you create a PO and save it to database the custom.pll code will populate the descriptive flexfield with supplier item. The you can customize the Print Purchase Order report to show the supplier item not your internal item, then you can fax or email it to supplier. Accordingly you can customize receiving screens where a receiving clerk enters supplier item, the form will automatically selects your internal item on a custom field on the form, you can do it by cusom code in custom.pll
This is general overview, details you can work out on thes guidelines.
So, you are saying that there is no standard way of doing it? I was hoping that APPS had this kind of functionality or at least part of it.
I know I can do whatever I want with custom code but I need to first explore what can be done with Standard functionality.
In Receivables for example you can use the Customer Items function to link your items with customer items.
You can do this using Approved Supplier List. There's a field for Supplier Item. This is standard functionality
From purchasing user guide (B28669-01) about ASL:
"provides storage for general data attributes that are unique to the supplier/item
"Link the primary supplier item number with your internal item number. This
designated item will default to Purchase Order and Requisition lines."