ERP Testing Saps Resource at Marstons
When Judy Doust at Marston’s told us about her pain points with testing SAP applications, it was obvious that our unique approach to testing would be beneficial. So we put our developers to the task of coming up with an SAP solution. We’re pleased to say they’ve come up trumps and have helped the independent UK brewer and pub retailer to ease the increasing burden of SAP testing without the need for employing additional technical resources…
Historically Marston’s had only been using two SAP modules: Financials and Sales & Distribution, yet it would take over six months to plan and execute the testing of each upgrade. Now the company is using additional modules within the SAP ERP Central Component solution, CRM and SRM within the SAP Business Suite, SAP BI, bespoke applications and many web applications. This increased complexity had become a growing concern for Marston’s IT department. Continuous manual testing was not a feasible option moving forward, especially with the way SAP was planning updates in its latest release. Instead of one big upgrade, patches were to be delivered in regular packages throughout the year. For Marston’s the scope and complexity of testing SAP updates has dramatically increased.
In addition to the long testing cycles, Marston’s also felt it was constrained by a lack of choice in the SAP automated testing market and required the solution it eventually purchased to fit in with how Marston’s ran its business. Marston’s has always utilised the business users as its testers, as it is they who really know how the applications are supposed to work. The business users have no IT skills, but have a more holistic view of the business processes under test. As such, the solution had to be easy to use without the need for any technical knowledge such as programming.
One choice would have been HP, given its monopoly-like relationship with SAP for testing. But HP was not a realistic choice for Marston’s.
Judy Doust, Test Manager at Marston’s, explains: “Our SAP testing is business process driven and as such requires people with knowledge of the business process to actually design and execute tests. Although the integration exists between HP and SAP, I really didn’t like feeling as though I was being tied into something that was not right for our business. HP is a technical solution and I didn’t want to employ another couple of people to do the coding and maintenance, so I went looking for a viable alternative.”
“Our prime objective was not to employ a huge test department. Our end users are the business users – we’ve always used them as testers and it works well for us – it saves on re-work. A system that requires IT specialism would force us to employ a team of specialist testers. We’d still need to utilise the users for the business process knowledge and there would be crossover and duplicated effort. Why perform all that work if there was another option out there?” continued Judy.
When Marston’s learnt about Original Software and realised how easy the solution was in terms of usability, it immediately saw the benefits it could provide the business with its SAP testing. Judy added: “When I approached Original Software to investigate the solution suite’s suitability for SAP testing, their display of willingness and intent gave us confidence.”
“We have now implemented their manual and automated testing solution and are in the process of training users. The beauty of TestDrive-Assist is the non-intrusive way it records activity while the user is testing. This allows us to capture the day-to-day processes of the business users so that their knowledge is retained and shared within our organisation. We will be able to leverage that business process knowledge in order to build automated test regression packs, providing us with huge time savings each time we re-run the tests.”
Marston’s next objective is upgrade regression pack building. “We want to be able to automate and make upgrades less painful, but quality really is at the heart of everything we are doing. We want to improve the quality of our solutions, while at the same time maintain the same level of service for users. Our overall goal is that the business continues to believe in IT and what we are doing – all the way from the business process owners and end users, right up to board director level,” Judy concluded.