Archive for September, 2010

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.

Another Tax Blunder, Get IT Fixed

HM Revenues and Customs have done it again! You would think that they would have learnt from past mistakes and have a plaque hanging on their wall that says, “failure to plan is planning to fail.”

Not only is their internal administration process still flawed, but now their shiny new Pay As You Earn (PAYE) computer system is thought to be the problem behind 1 million workers facing a surprise £1,500 tax bill.

A new IT project, which had not been properly tested, has meant that 1.4 million tax payers have underpaid. Almost 6 million tax payers will be told over the next few months that they have paid the wrong amount of income tax.

The new computer system, designed to automate a manual process, brought a promise of organisation. The automation of matching up the information on individual records with the end of year HMRC checks, on the amount of deducted tax and national insurance contributions by employees using the PAYE system, did not work as expected.

The project is a good idea, reduce time, resource and cost of the manual effort, but automation can not be achieved if the computer system has not been properly tested.

Most nightmares in this hall of shame have been detrimental in many ways, but it is never funny when it effects the lives of ordinary people. During a time when money is tight, this quality nightmare will hit the unlucky casualties hard.

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An AQM solution for Psion Teklogix

Psion Teklogix, the pioneer of rugged mobile computing, has utilised Original Software’s newly launched Application Quality Management (AQM) solution, Qualify, to enable significant time savings, process improvements and re-use of assets; accelerating innovation on ground-breaking new products and features.

Shahe Altounian, Manager for Product Support and Services at Psion, leads a team of Test and Business Analysts, in charge of validating Psion’s products before they are released to production. From testing for compliance to certain industry standards, through to validating that the beepers and software work as designed, he and his team were managing and planning the quality of their rugged handheld devices, using TestPlan, Original Software’s solution for test planning only, which has now been superseded by Qualify a complete AQM solution.

Shahe’s team were already happy customers and had enjoyed huge success in ensuring that their solutions were fit for purpose. But when he was approached by Original Software to try its new AQM solution, Qualify, they could immediately see the potential for benefits on a much larger scale.

Psion’s development process works like a classic ‘V Model’ and Qualify allows the integration of development with the testing team; visibly linking together both sides of the ‘V’ and allowing both teams full transparency of the project status.

Another feature that impressed Psion is the level of customisation that is possible. Each member of the team is able to have their own personalised view of the project and the elements and detail that they want to see, whatever is most important to them and their role.

Shahe said: “The biggest challenge for us has been about changing how people work. We’ve made a monumental leap in the way that people collaborate and work together on projects. We’ve gone from doing everything manually, with work spread out across documents, print-outs and spreadsheets, to having a centralised, business-aligned quality management solution that truly empowers team members. I’ve really enjoyed working with Qualify and it has been an enormous benefit to the business.”

If you would like to read more about Psion’s implementation of Qualify, visit our customer stories library here!


Offer ends 31st August 2014 - Free business process documentation tool open to 5 private sector organisations in the USA and a further five in the UK, with a minimum of 1,000 employees.

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