Due to mergers, strategic acquisitions, or simply to replace outdated infrastructure, ERP replacement and upgrade projects are currently a top priority amongst leading retailers.
Ten10 has extensive experience creating and delivering the test strategy for retail ERP implementation projects. From this we have developed five key areas which we recommend for consideration before undertaking your ERP testing.
1. ERP testing approach
The successful delivery of any testing project depends on effective project planning, and this is never truer than for a retail ERP implementation project. It is only right then that planning and preparation for the ERP testing approach comes top of our list of considerations.
It’s important for the test team to understand the context and drivers behind the ERP implementation project, to have visibility and understanding of the full business system architecture, and to know where the ERP sits within this. The inward and outward feeds to the ERP can then be properly determined.
Typically an ERP implementation has a number of key business areas which it impacts such as Warehouse and Logistics, Finance, Retail and Merchandising etc. Once the total system landscape is understood then a drilldown is required into the setup and requirements of each business function in the ERP. This understanding will be especially important if any end-to-end testing will be performed as it will help with how to plan and build test scripts which best follow or precede scripts/steps belonging to different business areas.
Many ERPs will be delivered with out-of-the-box functionality, however most retailers will add bespoke customisations to this. The test team should explore these and identify any changes to functionality. It is also worth noting that if customisations are newly developed there may be a higher risk of issues associated to these so the test planning should make provision for this.
Once the full scope of testing has been established, the impact and complexities of the changes should inform the drawing up of efficient risk profiles for each area of testing. It is recommended that the system landscape, interactions and risk profiles should all be clearly documented in a defined ERP test approach and shared with the project stakeholders.
2. The test environment
A significant aspect of planning the ERP testing relates to considerations surrounding the test environment(s). It is rarely possible to create a test environment that is an exact replica of the production environment. There are normally at least a couple of differences between the test and the live environment such as; data sizing, backup and storage infrastructure, interfaces to other (live) systems, or cross-site data logging and data replication. It is important to understand the implications and impact that any differences may have on the quality and reliability of your testing.
Another consideration is how many test environments there will be? Some organisations have run into issues where their system is either pointing to an incorrect test environment or another line of testing is already being executed. In order to mitigate and avoid these risks it is essential to properly scope out the test environment requirements and put a clear plan in place for environment resourcing.
3. Finding efficiencies in ERP testing
ERPs such as Microsoft Dynamics are often built off similar templates. While each ERP area may perform different functions, the design may actually be very similar. Where the same pre-conditions and initial steps are followed, standard basic templates can be created for test scripting which will help to save time and resources.
Testing of a retail ERP system is typically a large-scale project, so another aspect which can significantly affect time and and resources is the defect management process. Establishing an effective process for reporting and managing defects will play a huge part in ensuring a project runs to time and to budget.
Ideally, your defect management system should allow you to accurately record, prioritise and communicate defects to stakeholders, as well as handling updated statuses and comments when the defects have been fixed and final testing is complete. A reliable and efficient defect management process will result in a system of superior quality, which is delivered at a faster pace.
4. Performance testing
As well as testing the functionality of your ERP system, another major consideration needs to be the performance of the application. Failure to undertake effective performance testing can result in a slow-performing and unreliable system that affects user confidence and disrupts productivity.
In the case of a system actually going down due to a failure, this can severely could severely impact the company’s ability to operate and be costly to fix (and there is no shortage of examples of ERP system failures!) In an industry such as retail, good performance is critical to user experience, and customer satisfaction has a direct correlation to online conversion rates and revenue.
There are a large number of subsets to performance testing. Detailed below are a few of the most common types for consideration:
- Load testing will provide assurance that your system will perform at an acceptable level when there is a high number of users or volume of data throughput.
- Stress testing looks to identify what the maximum load is that the system can cope with.
- Capacity testing will provide you with the confidence that your ERP will be able to cope with future load requirements that you may have.
- Reliability testing (also known as recovery testing) will provide you with the insight and understanding of what will happen to your system if it does experience a failure i.e. will it return to its normal state and if so, how long does it take to do so?
Before undertaking performance testing on your ERP system it is recommended to undertake some benchmark testing. Benchmarking will confirm whether changes to the system cause improvements or degradation in performance. It will provide a valuable point of reference and give an indication of acceptable processing times for users.
More detailed considerations on this subject are available in our whitepaper, performance testing in non-representative environments.
5. Regression testing
“Testing of a previously tested component or system following modification to ensure that defects have not been introduced or have been uncovered in unchanged areas of the software, as a result of the changes made.” glossary.istqb.org
ERP regression testing validates that the introduction of change to the application has not affected any existing functionality that is not supposed to change. Typically change can be a result of:
- New functionality
- Functional change
- Defect fixes (note, not the re-test itself)
- Environmental change (e.g. infrastructure, platform, configuration)
Regression testing is often considered as an afterthought, particularly with a new implementation or where there is a focus on new functionality, or sometimes even overlooked completely due to time and costs pressures. However, it should be noted that live service issues – which can result in significant reputational damage or impact to a business’ productivity – are often the result of regression defects. Therefore, the importance and value of regression testing should not be underestimated.
The regression test suite should be constructed and maintained to reflect current key and prioritised functionality rather than cumulative functional tests from previous sprints. When identifying and reviewing candidates for regression testing key factors will be; functional coverage, business priority and risk. In order to avoid bloating of the regression test suite over time it is advisable to conduct regular and ongoing analysis to maintain a lean, optimised and relevant regression test suite.
In order to minimise the impact that regression testing can have on resources and time to market it is common to make use of test automation. You can download our datasheet on accelerated regression testing to learn more.
Want to know more about retail ERP testing?
A nationwide retail company with a turnover of $34.9m was acquired as part of a group by another, larger retailer. It trades both through a small number of London stores and over the web.
Find out how we helped the client successfully deliver the complex ERP system integration project with an effective test strategy and test execution.
Ten10 is the UK’s leading independent provider of software testing solutions. As a proven and trusted partner for the retail sector, Ten10 brings experience testing a wide range of retail-specific applications including; front-end website and mobile apps, 3rd party payment tools and integration, POS systems, warehousing and logistics platforms to name a few. Common retail-specific test solutions include the automation of web journeys for regression testing, performance load testing, and mobile compatibility testing.
Clients benefit from our flexible and scalable options for delivery, from strategic consultancy through to fully managed services – which can be engaged on or offsite.
You can learn more about our retail testing solutions here.