Stress Testing ERP systems for Operational ExcellenceCigniti Technologies
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Organizations, or enterprises, are like ‘brick-and-mortar’ on wheels. They are in a constant state of work-in-progress. This requires various elements and functions of an enterprise to work seamlessly on a day-to-day basis, which ensures consistent growth with continuous enhancement. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), a business-management software helps bridge the gap between all the functions to set the organization into motion as an integrated system.
Today the relevance of ERP has gone beyond the manufacturing industry, from where it began. It is instrumental in integrating and automating various back office functions, namely IT, human resources, operations & various administrative services. This also inherently implies that any hiccups in the ERP software may lead to disruption in the functioning of the organisation.
An important question to bear in mind is what could be the best possible solution or preventive measure for implementing a seamless ERP system?
Experts suggest ‘Stress Testing’ or ‘Performance Testing’ before it goes LIVE, which often goes unnoticed while the implementation is taking place. The term ‘Stress Test’ holds more relevance in the context of critical software, for instance, Web interface for Retail banking or some critical software for an Airline.
The reason being that Stress Testing emphasises on robustness, readiness, and error handling capacity of a software. In essence, software that has been stress tested performs flawlessly even in business-critical situations where things are falling apart.
Following is a checklist that answers the question ‘Why Stress-Test’ and how?
- Readiness check: Stress Testing, a software testing activity ensures that the chosen ERP solution is enterprise-compatible-ready. It is important to confirm that the software operates effectively in a real production environment. ERP testing is generally performed in isolated settings in fragmented subdivisions of the entire eco-system. It is critical to test it in real environment, where it performs under pressure and performs as expected.
- Planned failure: It is important to plan the testing and segment it – specific use of the software, kind of transactions and determine the expected results. When you plan for failure to occur, you are ready to rectify and avoid similar errors in the future. Remember the adage – ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’?
- Open Communication platform: An open communication environment for all users is crucial, as it will bring out actual feedback and lead to steps for resolving the same. Experts suggest that this could be done by assigning a (Stress Test) Manager to answer and record these questions for future reference.
- Resemblance to Production: Considering it is critical to get actual-environment-performance from the software, it is advised to perform stress testing on a server that closely resembles your production server and not a server merely used during training period.
- Planning the Network and required groundwork: Before you plan the stress test, it is important for the internal team to get a quick check of the required network and get the actual production environment in place for executing performance testing activities.
- Dealing with External factors: Normally, the external or third party factors (if relevant) are skipped during the testing process. So, it is absolutely imperative to consider unique situations occurring due to external factors and incorporating them during the testing process. It would be difficult to do the same after the ERP system goes LIVE and could lead to waste of time and costs. This approach also gives the enterprise a holistic view of the ecosystem in which the software will operate in the future.
As they say “A stitch in time saves nine’’…
What if there is an absolute rush from the concerned stakeholders to go LIVE, which somewhere undermines the testing time and need?
Let’s understand the repercussions.
- ‘We will fix it later’, does not make sense: It is important to understand how it works in the actual environment, as fixing it later can lead to exhaustive tons of rework and could incur costs.
- Test run for the users: Users need to get a hands-on experience with the software, which they are probably going to operate on a day-to-day basis. If the software goes LIVE without any practise, the users will have to dive in without any required training or hand-holding. This could lead to problems in handling issues and unnecessary consumption of time.
- Plan for the outcome: If you have no plan and testing done to reach the desired outcome, it will lead to hiccups during the implementation. So, it is recommended to reach the finish line before you even start the actual race!
- Check the Checklist: It could be a checklist or a task list. It plays a crucial role in testing all the aspects of the ERP solution and save you during error-handling situations. A meticulous review of this list along with the internal team is crucial.
The ultimate solution for this to devise a Test plan.
Whether it is a new implementation or merely an upgrade, the test plan helps you sail seamlessly through it and answers even miniscule queries such as:
- What is expected from the ERP solution?
- Do the users know their specific roles and responsibilities in the entire system?
- How can you collaborate with your ERP partner to develop a test plan and execute it effectively?
Though this might sound quite cumbersome, it will definitely ensure effective implementation, operational excellence, and a seamless experience for all the stakeholders.
Most importantly, it is best to plan for the worse. It is impossible to evade errors completely. However, expecting the worse and testing it, makes you more confident and market-ready.
Cigniti holds extensive experience in ERP Testing and has helped clients get the best possible outcome by implementing the software in a test environment. This has significantly enabled them to mitigate risks and achieve cost-efficiency resulting in attaining Operational excellence.
Connect with Cigniti experts to devise best in class ERP Testing strategy for your organization and experience a smooth transition.