A ‘Segment’ is one processing unit required to complete an automated allocation of distribution or assessment or reposting of planned/actual costs in controlling in SAP. A segment is made up of (a) allocation characteristics—to identify the sender/receiver, (b) values of the sender—plan/actual, type of costs to be allocated, and (c) values of the receiver—the basis for allocation, for example, the tracing factor such as SKF, percentages, etc.
When you combine multiple segments into a single process, then you call that the ‘Cycle.’ A Cycle helps you to process various segments in a chain-like fashion one after another. A Cycle consists of header data (valid for all Segments in a Cycle) and one or more Segments, with summarized rules and settings enabling allocation. The Segments within a ‘cycle’ can be processed iteratively (one segment waits for the results of another) or non-iteratively (all the segments are processed independently) or cumulatively (to take care of variations in receiver Tracing Factors or sender amounts).
Typically, when you start the cycles you will start them in a ‘test’ mode to see the allocations before actual postings. Technically, you can run the cycles in ‘production’ mode at any point of time, but the system will carry out the allocation postings only on the first day of a period. The utility of the cycle lies in the fact that you can run these period after period.