The well-known quote, “Trust, but verify,” is attributed to Ronald Reagan, late president of the United States. Mr. Reagan used these words frequently during his terms, usually when highlighting his wish to accurately confirm Soviet reduction of their nuclear weapons arsenal. Over the years, I have heard this phrase repurposed for other contexts. But today, I’d like to (pardon the pun) ‘weaponize’ it regarding the real need for accurate manual testing to verify transformed business processes and their interfaces.
Many ERP business users are working in organizations that have embarked on what I call transformational initiatives. Conversions of older ERP platforms to Oracle Fusion Cloud and to SAP S/4HANA offer improved functionality and the tremendous potential for increased operational efficiencies. But these projects also transform the way employees get their work done. They introduce new user interfaces and streamlined business processes, requiring the reengineering of a company’s operations. In S/4HANA, for example, SAP deprecated thousands of standard Tcodes and even removed several modules that ran in their core ECC6 platform.
Optimizing a business process with a transformational alternative introduces significant changes. And those changes must be validated by the impacted business users before they can be safely deployed into production.
Let’s say your decades-old, thick client, SAP ECC-based HR operations are moving to SuccessFactors, SAP’s dynamic SaaS-based HR platform. You may trust the project team to migrate all your data and configure the new platform to support your future-state HR processes. But you are also going to be very certain to verify that everything works as designed (and as expected) before turning off the old system and rolling out your state-of-the-art replacement.
How do business users “trust, but verify” their transformed business processes? Through manual testing, of course. To validate that the designed results meet expectations, key business stakeholders MUST follow detailed scripts that run through the key variations of their transformed processes. This is called manual UAT (User Acceptance Testing).
Fully automated tests – even if they have been adapted to suit the re-engineered processes and interfaces – cannot validate these transformations. What’s needed are facts on the ground. Changed processes and their interfaces must first be manually verified by business users before an automated test asset can take over and confirm the same functionality in future test cycles.
So, if your line of business is entering a brave new world of transformed and re-engineered business processes, you’d be wise to follow the advice of President Reagan: Trust, but verify.