The ‘Mantra’ to Attain Effective ERP Testing and Implementation

The ‘Mantra’ to Attain Effective ERP Testing and Implementation

 

The global audience has been witnessing a surge in the number of Start-ups, and the specific requirements they have, for a robust Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, which can specifically address issues coming up in the ‘start-up’ environment. Hence, whether small or medium – medium or large, every organization requires an ERP solution to manage various functions and accelerate growth.

According to a new report by Allied Market Research entitled, ‘Global ERP Software Market – Size, Industry Analysis, Trends, Opportunities, Growth and Forecast, 2013-2020’, the global ERP software market is expected to reach $ 41.69 billion by 2020, registering a CAGR of 7.2% during 2014-2020.

According to Gartner, an ERP system impacts a broad set of stakeholders.

Today, large organizations are moving their ERP solutions to the Cloud and this further emphasizes the application of consistent and meticulously planned QA checks for robust practices to test the ERP solution.

Majority of the ERP Implementation projects fail because of inadequate test planning resulting in ineffective testing. ERP systems can prove to be instrumental in integrating various functions of the organization and bringing together various capabilities with swift communication channels. Within an organization, the ERP system touches various functions, processes, people, and functional issues as well.

The relevance of ERP has gone beyond mere corporates. Today it is being considered by leading educational institutions to replace redundant legacy systems as well. This has resulted in attaining operational excellence and boosted communication amongst the various functions of an organization (irrespective of their domain of business).

An ideal approach to test ERP applications within a specific business environment is to consider a 360-degree perspective and focus on the underlying business objective.

The key reason is that an ERP system is expected to integrate various functions, where the testing effort can complement the development effort as well.

ERP Implementation Testing

In this article, we would try to address the best practices in ERP testing in large-scale organizations. This will additionally help us to understand and highlight its relevance / implications across a larger enterprise.

A well-integrated ERP solution brings efficiency and competence in the business processes, and enables enterprises to seek required information on time.

The magic ‘Mantra’ to attain effective ERP testing and implementation = Analyzing requirements + Defining the testing needs + Specifying testing goals + Stating business objectives + Describing the testing strategy

A few good practices to follow while implementing an ERP System for your organization are provided below.

  • Requirement gathering & Planning: Collecting relevant information helps take stock of the various touch points in an organization, which subsequently helps in effective planning. One of the reasons is to achieve enhanced test coverage and manage the tests better from inception of the project.
  • Setting the goals: When goals are set with precision, it ultimately determines the particular type of testing to be implemented and the required resources to execute the same. Goal setting helps set specific test objectives and test plans, and define the team structure.
  • Attaining test goal: Achieving enhanced test coverage and effective testing is the underlying objective. Implementing Test Automation helps reduce the testing efforts and attain the defined test goals.
  • Identifying test cases: In order to ensure maximum test coverage in the defined scope, it is important to identify all the test cases for the various types of tests to be performed. Additionally, it is imperative to document the key business processes, where the ERP solution is going to be implemented.
  • Setting up a test lab: It is recommended to set up a dedicated Quality Assurance test lab for testing the ERP system. When all the machines are configured with the desired specification, it takes away the performance issues while testing.
  •  Conducting Regression, Performance, and Security Tests: Regression testing, Integration testing, Performance testing, Usability, and Security testing are important for ERP testing, as the system holds an organization’s critical data. This helps save time and costs, and enables continuous monitoring of the systems.
  • Scrutinizing defects and creating test reports: When all the testing components are tested, it helps determine the ERP application’s swiftness within the organization. This also helps in analyzing the failure aspects, which could be expected in real environment. All these processes and defects should be documented as test reports for future reference.

While today many organizations are considering online self-service systems for effectiveness and ease of implementation, but whether or not this is recommended is a question to be answered yet. That said, ERP has evolved and established itself to be a popular modern business lexicon that provides long-lasting benefits for enterprises over the years.

Agile and DevOps hold utmost relevance for successful ERP implementations and ensure the desired outcome. Gallop’s focused ERP Center of Excellence (CoE) has delivered verification & validation services to large enterprises

Connect with Gallop’s ERP Test experts to devise end-to-end Test framework and get the most out of your ERP solution.

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

Stress Testing ERP systems for Operational Excellence

Stress Testing ERP systems for Operational Excellence

Organizations, or enterprises, are like ‘brick-and-mortar’ on wheels. They are in a constant state of work-in-progress. This requires various elements and functions of an enterprise to work seamlessly on a day-to-day basis, which ensures consistent growth with continuous enhancement. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), a business-management software helps bridge the gap between all the functions to set the organization into motion as an integrated system.

 

Today the relevance of ERP has gone beyond the manufacturing industry, from where it began. It is instrumental in integrating and automating various back office functions, namely IT, human resources, operations & various administrative services. This also inherently implies that any hiccups in the ERP software may lead to disruption in the functioning of the organisation.

 

An important question to bear in mind is what could be the best possible solution or preventive measure for implementing a seamless ERP system?

 

Experts suggest ‘Stress Testing’ or ‘Performance Testing’ before it goes LIVE, which often goes unnoticed while the implementation is taking place. The term ‘Stress Test’ holds more relevance in the context of critical software, for instance, Web interface for Retail banking or some critical software for an Airline.

 

The reason being that Stress Testing emphasises on robustness, readiness, and error handling capacity of a software. In essence, software that has been stress tested performs flawlessly even in business-critical situations where things are falling apart.

 

Following is a checklist that answers the question ‘Why Stress-Test’ and how?

  • Readiness check: Stress Testing, a software testing activity ensures that the chosen ERP solution is enterprise-compatible-ready. It is important to confirm that the software operates effectively in a real production environment. ERP testing is generally performed in isolated settings in fragmented subdivisions of the entire eco-system. It is critical to test it in real environment, where it performs under pressure and performs as expected.

 

  • Planned failure: It is important to plan the testing and segment it – specific use of the software, kind of transactions and determine the expected results. When you plan for failure to occur, you are ready to rectify and avoid similar errors in the future. Remember the adage – ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’?

 

  • Open Communication platform: An open communication environment for all users is crucial, as it will bring out actual feedback and lead to steps for resolving the same. Experts suggest that this could be done by assigning a (Stress Test) Manager to answer and record these questions for future reference.

 

  • Resemblance to Production: Considering it is critical to get actual-environment-performance from the software, it is advised to perform stress testing on a server that closely resembles your production server and not a server merely used during training period.

 

  • Planning the Network and required groundwork: Before you plan the stress test, it is important for the internal team to get a quick check of the required network and get the actual production environment in place for executing performance testing activities.

 

  • Dealing with External factors: Normally, the external or third party factors (if relevant) are skipped during the testing process. So, it is absolutely imperative to consider unique situations occurring due to external factors and incorporating them during the testing process. It would be difficult to do the same after the ERP system goes LIVE and could lead to waste of time and costs. This approach also gives the enterprise a holistic view of the ecosystem in which the software will operate in the future.

 

ERP Testing Ecosystem

As they say “A stitch in time saves nine’’

 

What if there is an absolute rush from the concerned stakeholders to go LIVE, which somewhere undermines the testing time and need?

Let’s understand the repercussions.

 

  • ‘We will fix it later’, does not make sense: It is important to understand how it works in the actual environment, as fixing it later can lead to exhaustive tons of rework and could incur costs.

 

  • Test run for the users: Users need to get a hands-on experience with the software, which they are probably going to operate on a day-to-day basis. If the software goes LIVE without any practise, the users will have to dive in without any required training or hand-holding. This could lead to problems in handling issues and unnecessary consumption of time.

 

  • Plan for the outcome: If you have no plan and testing done to reach the desired outcome, it will lead to hiccups during the implementation. So, it is recommended to reach the finish line before you even start the actual race!

 

  • Check the Checklist: It could be a checklist or a task list. It plays a crucial role in testing all the aspects of the ERP solution and save you during error-handling situations. A meticulous review of this list along with the internal team is crucial.

The ultimate solution for this to devise a Test plan.

 

Whether it is a new implementation or merely an upgrade, the test plan helps you sail seamlessly through it and answers even miniscule queries such as:

 

  1. What is expected from the ERP solution?
  2. Do the users know their specific roles and responsibilities in the entire system?
  3. How can you collaborate with your ERP partner to develop a test plan and execute it effectively?

 

Though this might sound quite cumbersome, it will definitely ensure effective implementation, operational excellence, and a seamless experience for all the stakeholders.

 

Most importantly, it is best to plan for the worse. It is impossible to evade errors completely. However, expecting the worse and testing it, makes you more confident and market-ready.

 

Gallop holds extensive experience in ERP Testing and has helped clients get the best possible outcome by implementing the software in a test environment. This has significantly enabled them to mitigate risks and achieve cost-efficiency resulting in attaining Operational excellence.

 

Connect with Gallop experts to devise best in class ERP Testing strategy for your organization and experience a smooth transition.

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.

6 Benefits of Test Automation with Respect to ERP Upgrades

 

6 Benefits of Test Automation with Respect to ERP Upgrades

Enterprises that use ERP systems, whether is SAP, ORACLE or any other, heavily rely on the suites as they are business critical. An enterprise ERP suite is an integrated application that can be availed for performing various activities such as receiving orders, shipping products, controlling finances, managing human resources, etc. According to a Gartner Report, with a 6.4% annual growth, ERP continues to be an active growth market for vendors. ERP vendors such as SAP, ORACLE, and Microsoft Dynamics invest heavily in constant improvements to their solutions. In turn the enterprises want to keep up with the technology improvements and thus need to upgrade. It is true that their business operations will get the complete benefit of these ERP upgrades and in order to plan for an ERP upgrade, proper planning and implementation of the same is needed.

Need for ERP Upgrades

ERP systems are robust and enable updating changes as and when business processes are upgraded. Finding defects and validating that applications work correctly is essential for any ERP upgrade. A successful ERP implementation demands continuous testing of system processes to identify and fix flaws, and further ensure quality reporting and decision making. Moreover, in these complex and highly configured ERP systems & upgrades, testing becomes critical and researches reveal that 50% of the total ERP budget is occupied with testing. Relying completely on manual testing cannot ensure the full potential benefit of ERP implementation. Automated testing helps to upgrade application quality, and saves time and cost. Test automation has the potential to radically improve the productivity of these ERP upgrades.

Global enterprises understand the potential of test automation in relation to extending software lifespans, improving performance as well as reducing total cost of ownership and improving new and existing IT investments. The testing of any SAP or Oracle system requires business process expertise in order to check that the application meets business expectations. This means relying on business users to test the upgraded system. Some of the most common challenges with ERP upgrades include insufficient skill assessment, poor planning, and at times, ignoring the concept of change management by underestimating the time and resources required. But test automation through proper planning is needed for ERP upgrades.

Testing is an important process of an ERP upgrade process and in order to ensure success during the testing phases, it should be performed by trained personnel with complete know how of logging, reporting, and tracking errors. It further involves focused test cases on upgrading objects as well as on new objects to offer a more complete picture of how the data will be used post-upgrade. It is also true that project leaders might consider to make use of in-house capabilities with external, third party skills and knowledge to take up the testing of ERP upgrades. But, the expertise of an external consulting or service organization may make sense when the investment in developing in-house capability will not pay off in the long term especially with respect to ERP upgrades. In order to facilitate the adoption of the upgrade by end users, the project managers even get the key users involved with validating a test upgrade and conduct a user acceptance training to a wider audience.

Benefits of Test Automation with respect to ERP Upgrades

  1. Test automation ensures that the main focus of ERP upgrades and implementation is to reach predefined business requirements
  2. Test Automation in ERP helps address major business challenges of sluggish routine processes due to delay caused by manual testing and ensuring accuracy. Speeding up routine processes reduces time and cost, thereby improving revenue and creating a better ROI.
  3. It will be easier to handle with test automation when new modules are added with ERP upgrades
  4. Handling of functional upgrades is comparatively easy as it requires greater changes to workflows and user interfaces
  5. New features and functions delivered that make the application more efficient and provide better functionality
  6. Ensures robust test management

Gallop’s ERP Accelerator is compatible with most ERP systems in the market. Whether your business has adopted Oracle, SAP, or any other hybrid ERP system, Gallop’s ERP accelerator can help in automating your ERP testing in a regressive end-to-end fashion. Gallop ERP test accelerator includes automated testing framework that supports most commercial tools, ready to use business processes, and over 1300 automated and manual test cases.

In order to know more about test automation, Contact Gallop’s team of test automation experts today.

The opinions expressed in this blog are author's and don't necessarily represent Gallop's positions, strategies or opinions.