Macerich deploys new Oracle EBS R12 upgrade testing technology to save time, eliminate surprises and mitigate risk
In 2014, Macerich, one of the leading owner/operators of US retail properties for the last 50 years, faced a daunting Oracle EBS R12 upgrade. The complex task of migrating from Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) R11 to version R12 was the responsibility of Leon Hampton, Assistant Vice President, who has over 20 years of Oracle/ERP experience.
“We saw the testing effort required for the coming Oracle EBS R12 upgrade would surpass in scope and scale any application changes in the history of our organization,” says Leon.
Original Software has turned out to be among the top five best application purchasing decisions we’ve ever madeJ.P. Jones, CIO, Macerich
According to Leon, since the original Oracle EBS implementation by Macerich in 2002, the software’s footprint has expanded to include:
– 37 interfaces to other applications
– 4 integrated third-party applications
– 4 custom applications
– Many custom reports
“Oracle’s recommendation for an Oracle EBS R12 upgrade is to test, test and test. We knew we had to involve the business users; the question was how to do that in the most efficient and effective manner,” he elaborates. “This project was huge, and testing would be an unprecedented burden on the business unless we found a new way to tackle it.”
…the coming Oracle EBS R12 upgrade would surpass in scope and scale any application changes
…testing would be an unprecedented burden on the business unless we found a new way to tackle it
1. A comprehensive suite of test scripts that business users concur reflect business processes.
2. An efficient method for communicating issues to IT without undue burden on business users.
3. A high degree of confidence among business users that they had been engaged fully in the testing process.
To assist and support the testing process, Leon added Lori Andrade, Senior Business Analyst to his team. Lori has decades of experience with business processes and information technology. Over the years, she has worked with dozens of applications within multiple areas of Macerich, including EBS, Siebel CRM, several leasing solutions and a variety of custom systems for receivables tracking, online generation of property plans, and security and risk management.
In the process of assessing requirements for the Oracle EBS R12 upgrade, Leon and Lori experienced a business epiphany: Managing the testing process is critical for success.
Opportunity to Refine
“We took the opportunity [of the Oracle EBS R12 upgrade project] not only to streamline and accelerate the R12 implementation, but to lay the groundwork for an improved testing methodology with any type of application change in the future,” Leon explains.
The pair knew that a technology solution would be the answer, so they set about evaluating a solution that Macerich already owned, Oracle’s Application Test Suite. But after being trained in its use, they quickly determined the Oracle tool was “too technical” for business users, even combined with Oracle’s User Productivity Kit. So, with a recommendation from IT leadership, they embarked on a search to find a new testing solution that would, in Lori’s words, “benefit our Oracle EBS R12 upgrade efforts, as well as become an integral part of all other application projects” across their architecture.
Comprehensive & Cost-Effective
Original Software’s tools gave us confidence
Leon discovered Original Software while attending a presentation at an industry conference, and added Original to the evaluation process. After a round of presentations to Macerich’s team of business system analysts and a proof-of-concept demo, Original Software won the day.
“Original Software offered a comprehensive set of features, ease of use for our business partners and cost-effective pricing,” says Lori.
Macerich licensed three products: Qualify for task management, workflow, tracking, reporting and storage of scripts and results; TestDrive-Assist to facilitate manual testing and produce application user guides; and TestDrive for automated testing.
“Deployment occurred concurrently with our existing Oracle EBS R12 upgrade timeline,” recounts Lori.
“Leon and I had a week of administrative configuration and training with the lead consultant, followed by several days of product-focused training for the business systems analyst team. We then validated and modified the test scripts from TruTek and created our own scripts so everything modeled our business processes.”
“I trained over 50 testers in April, and supported most of them remotely throughout UAT.”
The team used TestDrive-Assist to increase the productivity of manual testing, expanding the number of test cases completed in any given time period without increasing the number of staff involved. The technology recorded every test step, enabling the IT team to accelerate the testing cycles by eliminating the need to document manually the issues encountered.
We easily reduced the testing burden on the business users by 25 to 35 percent
This approach removed the burden on the business users to duplicate failed test steps in order to document an issue; everything they did was being recorded automatically.
“We easily reduced the testing burden on the business users by 25 to 35 percent,” Leon attests.
Given the importance of the Oracle EBS R12 upgrade, it also was critical that IT be able to efficiently track and effectively communicate testing progress.
We weren’t just testing changes. We were capturing business processes
“Qualify’s out-of-the-box reporting capability allowed us to easily track which tests were done, which were not done, who’s responsible and show that information to the team during the testing cycle,” says Leon.
“Additionally, Qualify helped us assess and prioritize issues for resolution, which has been key to building our business partners’ confidence in the process,” Lori reports. “We were able to tell the business how many issues are outstanding and what we were doing about them. Comprehensive documentation lent full visibility of test results from start to finish, helping to reduce the number of surprises that would surface when the time came to go live.”
“Original Software’s tools gave us confidence that we accurately identified business scenarios that required testing and assigned these tasks to appropriate resources,” says Lori. “We weren’t just testing changes. We were capturing business processes, taking ownership of those processes and adding integrity to our knowledge of the business. We took the opportunity to create a full catalogue of test scripts that could be used in testing patches and other smaller changes.”
She sums: “Overall, we accomplished more in less time with the same number of people.” She also credits support from Original Software’s team of consultants, which remained available, accessible and actively engaged in facilitating quality assurance through the full 9-month course of the project.
Lori next rolled out Original Software to a team of testers embarking on a Siebel CRM upgrade, another Oracle Application. But she says the tools will not be limited to one software vendor or type of technology.
“We plan to incorporate Original Software in all application projects,” Lori says. “Automation is definitely on our radar. Plus, we plan to use Qualify to help manage the testing in non-software projects, such as hardware implementations or network upgrades.”
“There also is great potential benefit in publishing TestDrive-Assist recordings on our collaboration portal so users can access them as training materials. This documentation will help speed up roll-outs and refreshers, and free up IT time.”
J.P. Jones, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer for Macerich, says the time saved by IT will translate quickly into greater productivity: “In speeding up and streamlining our testing processes, Original Software has helped improve the productivity of our IT and business teams by reducing the
time required for testing. Original Software has turned out to be among the top five best application purchasing decisions we’ve ever made.”
With Original Software helping streamline and accelerate business processes, Macerich can strengthen and sustain its leadership position in retail real estate for the next 50 years and beyond.
Let us show you how you can ensure software quality whilst managing the risks that surround a major ERP implementation, upgrade or patch.