There are a number of areas in the cycle of managing ERP upgrades where technology can a play a big part, but very often these are not seriously considered because: –
- Testing tools are usually in the domain of IT.
- The tools on the market are not appropriate for non-technical users.
- IT does not need to worry about testing the ERP, that’s the users’ responsibility.
Probably with the use of the phrase ‘Testing tools’ you are immediately thinking about automation tools, and if you are you are then half way to the conclusion of point 2 above. Most of the automation tools out there are not suitable for use by users, or testers aligned to the business. Most that is, but not all. Solutions like TestDrive are aimed at less technical users and do not require coding skills and when combined with manual testing solutions it enables a smooth progression from manual testing into automation.
But, when you consider the challenge of getting ERP changes safely and quickly into the hands of the business there are multiple aspects to consider.
Some of the areas in which technology can help with are: –
- What do we do now? The “As-Is” situation. This is important because it defines what scenarios you will need to test. There may be extra ones because of change, but if you don’t know how to test what you have now you cannot begin to test effectively. However, you can use technology to capture what you do now, the data that you use, the processes and steps. This can be saved as Word documents, steps/instructions/data in tabular format (i.e. a Test Case) or as an electronic scenario ready to be automated. This is a simple and easily achievable first step.
- What have we got to do and who is going to do it? Clearly describing and planning the project activities will make the execution easier and more efficient. Thus, based on the above, being able to assign tasks (whether test execution or in other areas) to persons, will enable you to control what happens. If at the same time the system understands available working hours and other commitments of individuals, it can help ensure this scheduling is realistic.
- What happened? Did it get done? Having visibility of what tasks are being carried out or have been completed, have issues etc is essential to driving the project of validation forwards. It is harder if the people doing it are remote so you need a way of enabling collaboration. In reality, collaboration and visibility are prerequisites for success and progress.
- What was done? What was found? It is easy to tick a box to say it was done or it failed. But that may not be enough and is certainly not enough if there was an issue or a question. You will need documentation so technology which captures what happened as you go along will save considerable time right from the start.
- Is it an issue? Having the detailed data to support this determination will save considerable time internally, externally and in the dialogue with third parties.
- How are we doing? Clearly having metrics and knowledge of where the project is helps drive success, but with the right technology this information is just there, on demand, real time as a result of the other good practices.
- Data for testing purposes. Testing relies on good, accurate data and where personal data referencing European citizens is concerned the imminent GDPR regulations add a new dimension. Test data needs to be treated as an asset. Solving this area early on provides a foundation for testing activities.
- Finally, running known tests automatically and finding unexpected results.
Looking at this list, there are many areas where technology can help which fall outside the normal expectation of “Test Automation”. Furthermore, they are easy and simple steps to take which as well as providing immediate gain they also get you started on the path to the elusive goal of Test Automation.
This is part 3 of a 5 part series; part 4 coming soon..