Product Management Automated testing

Mitigating business risks in cloud based ERP application with automated testing

By Bartosz Szpiech on September, 30 2020
7 minute read

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Bartosz Szpiech

Bart is a Microsoft Dynamics fanboy. In 2019, Bart took over 130 international flights to help businesses solve hundreds of issues and show other ways how to assess the problems. Aside of test automation he specializes in Security Role based configuration in AX2012 and D365 providing full project leadership in that area.

When implementation is over, the real ERP life begins...

Data security, system effectiveness, platform functionality, and fully operational business. These four main benefits are also threats of having Enterprise Resource Planning in the cloud. During the implementation process the company is fully focused on the secure migration of data and adjusting standard ERP packages to the business needs. Dedicated projects, many people involved, hours of tests conducted. All efforts seem to make implementation risks minimized.

 

Yet, right after the long-awaited “go-live”, businesses realize that there’s also an “ERP life”. Often neglected or omitted by the overwhelming amount of commitment during the implementation phase.

 

For the principal part of cases, implementation is just the beginning of a long-term relationship between the company and ERP system. Vendors of the enterprise software, like Microsoft Dynamics, developed different modules to cover and support all functional units of the enterprise. They constantly invest heavily in improvements to their solutions. In turn, enterprises want to keep up with the technology development and thus need to upgrade frequently. For business operations to get the complete benefit of these ERP updates, proper testing and implementation of the same are required. 

 

When a new system begins to work its supervisiontesting, and maintenance of the environment are necessary for keeping operations in the company being performed smoothly on a daily basis. If relevant control is well organized, it does not require exceptional effort or the involvement of many company resources.

 

Are ERP updates your company’s risk? Not necessarily. But if so..

The company works as a system of connected vessels. Departments – company’s vessels – during ongoing operations impact each other in a more or less significant way. ERP systems, designed to sustain integrated management of the main business processes – coordinates the proper vessels connection. Simultaneously, ERP systems are also facing evolution and upgrades to enhance its functionality and increase the integration capabilities. Thus, when the key processes in the company are covered by the customized ERP system, it is also key to keep them updated and prevent the risks that may occur.

 

What type of cloud based ERP risk business needs to be aware of:

Customized system and its consequences

“Vanilla” ERP (solution with little or no modification in the basic design) systems can create strategic disadvantages, while ERP customization can create problems after implementation. The more ERP is customized, the farther away it is veered from the natural evolution of the software. Upgrades become more challenging since the code often needs to be rewritten to support newer versions of the software. Such a case leads organizations to defer upgrades – sometimes indefinitely. It’s risky considering that finding defects and validating if such personalized applications work correctly is essential for any ERP upgrade! This is why a well-conducted ERP requires continuous testing of system processes. It is essential to identify and fix flaws, and further ensure quality reporting and decision making.

 

Monthly vendors modifications to the standard 

Taking Microsoft Dynamics 365 as an example – their release plan continuously enhances the system with new functionality to provide businesses with a well-adjusted tool. As a crucial player in the ERP landscape, it is obviously important for Microsoft to do so to stay ahead of the competition. However, a big challenge is that clients cannot benefit from enhancements if they are not on the latest version. Microsoft used to release two major updates per year.

November 2018 was a big break in this approach. From that month on, monthly update cadence that includes application and platform updates started. From April 2019 forward, all Dynamics 365 customers need to be on the same, current version –  ‘One Version’ which will always be up-to-date. Compared to earlier two per year releases, this is a significant change that each client must respect. And that means more update implementations that are crucial for the business.  See Microsoft Dynamics 365 FO – updates plan

 

Missed updates expose to business deadlock

ERP software reduces human errors in business. But as the company’s departments affect each other and ERP modules are connected, a slight change in one can significantly influence the other. If a customized system or even the small components are not ready for an update, the company is facing the butterfly effect.

Thus, a small update change in the sales module can result in large differences in the inventory and supply part of the system. In addition to these internal modules, there may also be dependencies to external systems, like payment or shipping providers. Updates should never have been introduced without appropriate testing first.

Assessing the risk of update threads is often about answering the question: do changes in the ERP can affect business continuity? If the response is checked with “YES”, ERP users need to introduce an appropriate testing tool.

 

Compensate the risk: Maintain benefits of cloud based ERP with automated tests 

Business used to have its mantra: the big fish eats the small fish. But with the rate of persuasive transformation and change, this mantra has become: the prescient fish eats the careless fish.

Speed and proper estimating are everything. The ability to notice business disruption, pivot quickly, and turn that uncertainty into a competitive advantage is crucial.

For ERP this function is maintained by testing. There are times when ERP systems are quite complex and it becomes very critical to perform them. Today, ERP testing (manual – in the vast majority of cases) consumes a significant part of the total ERP budget. However, testing manually doesn’t guarantee the complete benefit of ERP application.

In the cloud age of ERP, not the tests performed by humans, but the ones run by robots are having their moment.

 

There are various automation test vendors on the market that support more or less comprehensive tools. Standard testing instruments are often offered by ERP suppliers. Usually, they are free of charge, like Microsoft and RSAT – a regression suite automation tool. For companies exposed to the update risks, it is recommended to conduct more comprehensive, and adjusted tests, as provided by RSAT alternative – Executive Automats. Operative, individualized, and extensive test programs are ultimate for demanding and sensitive businesses. Suitable test automation helps in improving the quality of the product while reducing cost and time.

 

How does test automation help in mitigating risk in ERP?

  • Ongoing security providing fully operational business   

ERP systems are usually implemented according to a particular industrial need. That  makes the implementation of the standard package only often impossible. Enterprises adjust systems to their needs, but forget that updates are made to suit the standards. Testing enables earlier detection of threads and weak points by covering a variety of business scenarios. Simply, it verifies how new upgrades work on a company’s modified ERP.

  • Faster releases and delivery 

Test Automation in ERP helps address major business challenges of sluggish routine processes due to delay caused by manual testing and ensuring accuracy. The company can benefit from updated systems immediately, which in the end  reduce time and cost, thereby impacting the revenue and creating a better ROI.

  • Cost to effectiveness ratio 

Testing a huge volume of data manually on a frequent basis requires a lot of time, cost, and resources. An automated tool reduces the testing time for the ERP environment consisting of various business processes Test automation allows continuous monitoring of ERP systems, which helps in finding and fixing bugs. This helps an organization to avoid any substantial loss.

  • No human capability limitation

The ERP complexity and their dependency on other systems and modules is difficult to handle by manual testing. Automation overcomes all the challenges faced during manual testing. This includes providing timely, accurate, and quality solutions just on time.

  • Omitting quality and completeness error – validation and compliance

By implementing test automation, an organization can ensure hassle-free execution of its critical applications by monitoring routine data structures. Test automation focuses on the set business requirements. That simplifies the process of routine. In addition, test automation aims to cover quick test cycles, including configuration and regression testing. Test automation provides many potent ways to decide the right procedure for the most complex business processes.

 

For cloud-based ERP, having to test a customized and large solution is no longer a manual process daunting challenge that requires an alarming amount of personnel and time resources. In order not to delay projects in organization, sustain fully operational ERP, and speed up testing while maintaining a high level of quality, companies cannot rely on manual testing alone but have to move forward. Here, by using automation.

 

Demo Executive Automats

 

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