One of the reasons for buying an ERP style application (typically at vast cost) is the avoidance of the development effort that goes with designing, building and maintaining home-built applications. There is also potential for fewer staff in all roles such as Business Analysts, Systems Architects, Programmers and Testers. This on-going cost reduction and the added benefit of a readily available flow of the latest market-led features means you will have a modern, bug free, up to date platform to support current and future business needs, at a fraction of the cost of the old system. For these reasons, the painful price tag becomes acceptable and the ROI case a matter for the accountants and crystal-ball gazers.
The reality may turn out to be a little different to this enticing vision, particularly when considering the effort, and associated cost involved to move to this new world. When looking back it may transpire that the investment made has ended up being greater than anticipated. That is not to say that it is not worthwhile, but just more costly, possibly considerably more costly, than was expected. The result is that the new ERP, and this includes upgrades or migrations not just new installs, is now of even greater financial significance because of this major investment.
There is often a gap found in this situation, created by the different perspectives of IT & the Business
IT are the guardians of the relationship with the vendor, the contract. They provide the infrastructure and technology to support the operation of the application. Their goal is to keep it running smoothly and effectively. IT does not know how the business processes work, only the users know this and therefore the users must test any changes.
The business uses the application in silos. Knowledge is fragmented and compartmentalised. Their job is to do their job. They do not understand the overall business processes, only their own areas. They do not understand testing and they don’t really want any changes to the application. They do not want to spend time testing it and they do not want to be responsible for testing it, or the outcome if there are issues.
There is another factor that I almost dare not mention, being practically sacrilegious. But having had this feedback many times I’ll risk it. Sometimes, with the implementation of the new platform users’ tasks become harder, less efficient and less joined-up. At a high level, the new ERP does everything the old system did and more, but the users resent the fact that they may have suffered in the process of apparently making IT’s life easier, reinforcing the feeling it is IT’s application.
In short, everyone would prefer if somebody else did the testing.
This is part 1 of a 5 part series; part 2 coming shortly..