The next ERP project is coming up and therefore also the next ERP system test – a task that few companies especially relish. While some companies employ professional test tools for the IT tests, the user acceptance test represents a major challenge as operational departments often do not have the necessary specialist knowledge to efficiently use tools designed for professional testers. In addition, the key users frequently work at locations spread around the world, which makes collaboration and coordination more difficult. The most widely used tools worldwide for test management and documentation are Word and Excel, which means that the evaluation and documentation of tests have to be manually entered by test participants – in a common Excel table, so that each person involved has to enter their own results. It is therefore hardly surprising that ERP system tests can easily become complicated and time-consuming projects.
Besides being time-consuming, manual tests are also costly. Most of the work is incurred for manual administration of the test scenarios and test catalogue. As test cycles are so time- and cost-intensive, they are all too often neglected by companies. As a result, many companies accept a certain risk in the implementation of the changes to their ERP systems. More specifically, they are running the risk that faults will not be identified in good time, resulting in unscheduled system downtime.
These unpleasant surprises can only be avoided if complete and comprehensive process tests are performed. This applies in the business world just as much as in Formula 1 racing. Pit stops are needed regularly and must be performed very quickly; ideally they only last three seconds – this is because the tests are routine and everyone involved knows exactly what to do. This guarantees quality; the driver can drive off knowing that risks have been minimized. Service and optimization are also better than repair in the ERP sector.
If you do not want to rely on purely manual, possibly incomplete tests, then you are advised to implement user acceptance testing (UAT) from the cloud. The UAT checks whether the test catalog can cope with the system modifications or if it must be extended to reduce the risk. The combination of a test management suite with an analytical approach for the change analysis thus allows shift left testing for the early identification of problem areas in the ERP. The following three reasons speak for a paradigm shift from the old trial & error approach to the analytical approach:
- Fault-free operation
The digital revolution has meant that companies must react quickly to market changes and customer requirements, forcing IT departments to rapidly implement modifications in business processes and hence in the ERP system. However, new software must demonstrate its fault-free functionality in test runs. If there is a system outage or faulty performance because no stress test has been performed, the consequences can be very costly depending on the size of the company. Preliminary testing of processes and functions can show whether the company’s own ERP is up to the modification and, if not, can indicate where remedial action is required.
- Always up-to-date
ERP systems need to be highly flexible as adjustments and modifications are regularly necessary. This means that test scripts must also be updated on a continuous basis. However, in companies with a high staff turnover, it may be the case that suddenly no-one is available who knows the respective business processes. Managers then frequently seek employees who can fill the gap – however such stopgaps are relatively risky and often unsuccessful due to a lack of experience or knowledge. It’s a similar story with test script catalogs: Staff who do not know their way around in this area can easily make mistakes during modifications and there is a risk that the business processes tested are no longer up-to-date. In contrast, a cloud-based ERP test solution, which registers the processes and functions grows automatically in line with each new project, is always up-to-date and therefore ensures that modifications can be implemented in the system without risking production downtimes. An analytical approach to the impact analysis also indicates whether the existing test catalogue is adequate and what the test scope should focus on. The complete documentation of tests also supports the smooth transfer of knowledge and straightforward performance of internal and external audits.
- Test quality instead of employee frustration
Although the IT or Quality Assurance departments often assist in the creation of test scenarios, the accuracy of the tests may be impaired by their limited direct knowledge of the respective business processes. On the other hand, individual specialist departments do not have the possibility or capability to predict system changes and their side effects on highly integrated business processes. The inevitable result is a higher fault rate. For staff who have to prepare the next presentation or who are in a rush to make the next business appointment, tests sometimes mean an additional workload that is difficult to cope with. All this has an impact on the test quality, number of tests or reduces performance in daily operations. A solution could be so easy: a cloud-based test application running in the background on a specially created platform. In contrast to purely manual system tests, this solution facilitates knowledge of business processes to be transferred, impacts and side effects on the system to be predicted and thus the scope of testing to be defined based on the identified risks. Test management, its implementation and the creation of documentation are accelerated – and all this with less time and effort input by staff.
If you want to make the management of your ERP system more efficient, you should rely on ERP test management with the Panaya CloudQuality Suite. Unlike simple manual test scoping and execution, complications and obstacles are identified in advance – without extra work. The optimum maintenance of the ERP system also reduces project cycle times and prevents downtimes. This results in a greater level of efficiency, lower costs and above all greater staff satisfaction, which is bound to satisfy company managers.