The Deal with SAP Testing: Automation, Tools, and Better Business
“Worst case scenario for testing is when changes move to production that haven’t been tested and result in downtime for employees and lost business from customers.”
Larry Wilson is CoreALM’s Practice Lead in Testing. He shares his insight on the importance of Testing SAP operations.
The worst case for any IT project is the testing cycles fail to capture and resolve defects and issues before the transports and objects are placed in the production environment. The impact can vary from a small number of users for the particular application or all users. Due to short timelines or resource constraints, there may be low priority or low impact changes that may be approved for migration to production and fixed after go live.
One example of a worst case scenario is a change moved to production that takes down the customer order system resulting in lost orders and revenue. Another example would be if a utility production customer information system is down due to a change moved to production. Customers might not be have access to pay bills, make request for services, and result in negative publicity from news reports of the incident.
In regards to the “impact”, if a company is losing orders, then it’s a big deal, if employees are not getting paid, then it’s a bigger deal. Completing transactions, and making sure that processes are flowing with accuracy is what needs to be protected by quality testing.
SAP Solution Manager Test Suite
What would you say to testing managers and coordinators that are aware of issues with their testing processes or quality of testing declines over time, and are looking for ways to improve them?
Typically, once an ERP system has been implemented, or any major project is completed, the resources that really know the business processes (contractors, in house business functional teams, etc) move to other projects or other areas of the company. From a testing perspective, the business process experts who know their applications and can easily execute test cases written with minimal detail. The reality is these resources are valuable for other projects as well as being users of the system and are constrained resources for supporting testing. For testing managers and coordinators, this can cause scheduling issues as well as a decline in quality over time as the business users with limited availability may become less comprehensive and diligent in their testing and the potential for defects in productions increases.
One option is to have a Testing Center of Excellence (TCoE), which may not be practical depending on the size of the company. Whether a big or small company with variety-sized teams, any operation can take advantage of Test Suite capabilities such as Test Automation, and Business Process Change Analysis (BPCA) as being a good place for them to start.
In regards to the Decision Makers, what are they worried about when it comes to acting on a problem? Are there any red flags that stem from the technical areas?
Obviously repeated outages and system downtimes due to poor testing quality of changes going into production would result in decision makers taking action to implement best testing practices. Another red flag is the lack of action being taken to improve the quality of releases or the lack of available technical resources for needed innovation to support business operations due excessive amount of time being spent fixing defects later in the application development lifecycle.
Major projects for enhancement packs, support packs and innovation requires substantial support of business resources to do testing which decision-makers are aware as part of their planning and management of resources and budgets. In every major project, decision makers are aware of the push and pull for business resources to support testing cycles. Scheduling and using the time of business resources is not easy from an organizational standpoint. Business Functional Experts are typical constraint resources as well becoming an expensive resource for testing. Organizations might want to consider having a dedicated testing group and tools like SAP Test Suite to enable support for their operations. For smaller and larger companies, using tools and processes to enable and support best practices provides improved quality reducing the number of defects landing in production.
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