Testing your patience
Research from a survey of 60 global SAP customers has shown that at least 40% of organizations who have implemented SAP are reluctant to upgrade to the latest software versions. This reluctance stems, primarily, from the perceived cost overruns and failures to deliver on time these large scale projects have become known for. The main cause for the adversity to upgrading is also rooted in concerns, by tech-led end users, over testing and the quality of test scripts and overall methodology that are commonly in play today.
This begs the question how, as a driver of innovation and technology in your business, do you avoid the pitfalls of testing when upgrading and turn a potential failure into a win right from the start? This is an especially important question to answer as testing budgets will remain squeezed and CIOs will still have to justify every additional investment.
Budget pressure is nothing new. However, financial pressures combined with our growing reliance on IT, in both our corporate and personal lives, means outdated technology can have disproportionate impact on a businesses’ efficiency, effectiveness and, in the worst case, its security.
This is for 3 principal reasons:
- SAP invest huge sums in R&D which is designed to benefit customers: not being on the current version means that the business may be missing out on a potential source of competitive advantage
- Minor release upgrades can materially improve the end user experience by eliminating workarounds to avoid system bugs or poorly designed processes – alternatively they can include critical security patches
- Releases of new product may require the latest version of core software for native integration to be supported thus again restricting the value that the software delivers
Breaking down the barriers
Testing is increasingly being viewed as a critical component to any software implementation or upgrade project, but it remains a too often overlooked element – especially with regards to the specialist skills, tools and experience needed to do it right. In our experience, this is why the major barrier to adopting the latest release remains the cost of testing and validation. The traditional view of testing is that it is a commodity service which will “just take care of itself” if the systems integration work is properly managed. However the flaws in this thinking materialize themselves in cost overruns, project go-lives postponed, end users’ refusing to accept systems and dissatisfaction across project teams.
The way forward
There is a better way to approach testing. One which will go a long way in eliminating both the cost of upgrades and the risk and to change the overall user experience, be that the IT team, the end-user community and indeed the CIO. This involves a threefold approach:
- First, for all major implementations and upgrades test not just the technical operation of the system but the business processes and outcomes based on the originally specified requirements. This new approach to testing means that the system delivered to the end users not only performs as they need but also has near-zero Priority 1 defects
- Secondly for minor upgrades and regression testing consider implementing a Managed Testing Service (whether in-house or with a specialist 3rd party) which can introduce both tools to automate testing and a robust methodology to test specific fixes or processes quickly and cleanly, again matched back to business requirements
- Finally put in place a series of metrics to measure over time the success in driving down the cost of testing as a % of overall project budget and increase the quality of systems delivered. At Experior for example we believe testing should be 10-15% of overall project budget with a target of zero P1s in every production system rollout. Our experience shows that these challenging targets can be achieved with the right approach
So in short, doing testing right the first time should eliminate some of the key barriers to new technology adoption in your business. In fact, taking the right approach to testing will not only deliver a far better user experience across all constituent parties but also means that no one’s patience or budgets will have to be tested!
Originally posted December 9, 2014, by Martin Mackay of Experior Group