AT ORACLE: In the Field
Testing Makes PerfectBy Mark C. Clark
Successful application upgrade testing combines leadership, preparation, and the best people.
People say “practice makes perfect,” but in the enterprise application and enterprise resource planning (ERP) world, a more appropriate statement might be “testing makes perfect.”
A recent OAUG ResearchLine report1 about enterprise application/ERP suite upgrade strategies indicates that proper testing is of great importance. The report, based on the results of a research study conducted with members of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG), measured how respondents perceive the business opportunity and the process for moving to the latest release of an enterprise application suite. The testing process was identified by a majority of respondents (63 percent) as a key risk area, leading the list in terms of ERP upgrade challenges.
While there are a number of diverse software development methodologies, testing is one of the most critical. Here are three key ways to make your organization’s application upgrade testing experience as smooth and as “perfect” as possible.
Leadership Must Educate
The first strategy for ensuring a smooth-to-perfect testing experience starts with leadership. The leadership team should educate users on the overall testing process, the various types of testing, when each type occurs, and how users are involved. Users are in the best position to determine if a system is going to meet their requirements when it is turned over to them, and it is the leadership team’s responsibility to make sure users know what is expected of them during the testing process.
For example, users involved in testing should not just run a process or report to see that it has been executed; they should instead review the results and make sure the results are exactly what was expected.
In addition to using correct testing processes, users should be educated and prepared to do negative testing. Negative testing helps to ensure that the system prevents or traps errors or properly unwinds transactions that are being reversed or canceled.
With their big-picture vantage point, project leaders are in the best position to engage users, establish expectations and objectives, and direct testing efforts.
In addition to leadership, preparation is key to a successful testing experience. Proper preparation includes training and educating the users on the appropriate way to go about testing and how to log, report, and track errors. Users should be instructed on how to communicate perceived issues by including screen shots or other documentation with the issue being logged. Those tasked with issue resolution must understand why the test case failed so they can work on a proper fix. The testing team should understand who is responsible for tracking the issue and ensuring that the issue is fixed.
Getting the Best
After focused leadership is in place and necessary preparation is done, a third strategy for successful testing is to make sure the best people are involved in the hands-on testing process. Some people naturally make better testers than others. These are the people who can anticipate how the system may break or how someone may try to use it, and they have an innate sense of the overall processes and functions of the software. These team members will understand if a system as built or configured is actually meeting business requirements. Sometimes these people may be wearing multiple hats within the organization, or they may have gained their special insight from working in a wide variety of roles within a business. People with an audit background frequently make great additions to a testing team.
Unfortunately, due to their critical roles in an organization, the best testers do not always have the time to dedicate to the testing effort. In this case, they should be tapped to help design test cases and test scripts that capture their expertise so that others may apply this knowledge.
More organizations should view testing as an opportunity for feedback and refinement as well as user education. Too many teams view testing as a necessary evil or something that must be overcome prior to go-live, and they miss out on the benefits that a proper testing effort can provide.
1 “ERP Upgrades: What’s Your Philosophy? 2012 OAUG Survey on Enterprise Application/ERP Suite Upgrade Strategies,” Unisphere Research, February 2012
Mark C. Clark is president of OAUG and has been an active member since 1992. As a senior partner at O2Works, Clark is currently engaged with customers worldwide in their Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12 and 12.1 efforts.
Send us your comments