Fast, efficient and continuous end-to-end testing in S/4HANA cloud integrations
I have been looking at different aspects of the move to SAP S/4HANA ahead of SAP’s mandatory deadline. In this blog – the third in my series – I hope to explain why test automation has an important role to play when S/4HANA is integrated with cloud applications.
In today’s technology landscape, almost all Sogeti customers are moving some of (or even all) their applications to the cloud. Or they’re in the process of transformation. However, with the complexity of today’s business world, it is highly unlikely that we will see any enterprise running their entire business from just one cloud solution, such as SAP HEC – yet. With this in mind, integration is an important consideration and a key success factor in achieving successful business operations.
A need for integration
What do I mean by integration? SAP S/4HANA usually sits at the heart of our customers’ businesses, acting as a ‘digital core’. Architecturally, this might be set up on a cloud platform (SAP’s own or public cloud, or a customer’s private cloud), or built on premise. Irrespective of the architecture, the digital core almost always integrates with other cloud components (either within the same cloud platform or with other multiple cloud solutions), on premise legacy applications, and other IoT devices in a modern architecture. This is where most of our customers are headed.
These integrated applications are often set up as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which is a convenient route for customers moving towards a standard offering – buy instead of make. These integrated SaaS solutions operate on an ‘evergreen’ concept, where customers always get the latest version. In some cases, an organization doesn’t have a choice to opt out of updates or patches. Now, if we put this in the context of the S/4HANA world, we see a multiplicity of components and regular updates. In order to ensure business continuity, it’s absolutely vital that they’re all still seamlessly integrated with SAP S/4HANA even after the upgrade/update/patch.
Your business-critical processes reside as a combination of these components, so you can’t afford for them to fail simply because they haven’t been properly integrated with the new SAP landscape. Think about a payroll system that your employees depend on for their monthly salary payments. Or a process that ensures regulatory compliance, or the obligatory delivery of financial reporting. Failure is simply not an option. This emphasizes a need for repeated and continuous testing in a rapid and efficient way. The obvious answer is more automation (ideally unsupervised) to ensure speed and coverage. And, of course, with the volume of tests needed to assure business process continuity, it simply isn’t possible to conduct them all manually. That’s why an investment in test automation is essential.
Building test cases
The automation should be able to test business process and not individual components because the focus here is on the integrated set up. This is where end-to-end testing comes in. By end-to-end, I refer to the validation of key business processes across the integrated landscape, from one end of the business process to the other. Normally, it’s the responsibility of your internal test organization (with or without the help of a third-party testing services partner, such as Sogeti) to build test use cases around the many critical business processes. At Sogeti, we adopt a modular testing approach to achieving this, which I’ll explain shortly.
When we start this process, we typically bring in two distinct role types: firstly, functional SMEs who provide the expertise on the business process and SAP module, such as a supply chain specialist and a SAP Quality Management expert; and secondly test automation tools experts who work in tandem with the functional SMEs.
These functional SMEs make recordings of the business process in modular ‘functional blocks’, which the test automation experts then take, parameterize and make re-runnable with multiple data sets. These modular automated test scripts function like Lego blocks that can be clicked together. They are the basis for creating and executing automated end-to-end test scenarios.
Creating a test automation library
The value of this modular Lego block approach is that once a test script has been written, it can be reused time and again. This is made possible by building an automation script library from which testers can withdraw the scripts they need as and when they need them. Moving forwards, with the volume of new releases and cloud integrations growing, it should be recognized that without such a library it will become hugely expensive to maintain regular updates. The modularity helps to update all end-to-end test scenarios that use a particular Lego block at the same time, with minimal effort.
In order to operationalize the regression testing around the automated end-to-end test scenarios, it’s also important to incorporate some prioritization in your testing strategy. Regression test sets should be built on your most critical processes to manage any change deployed into the system. With the frequency of updates, regression testing should be daily – ideally overnight – made possible by automation.
Before, during and after the move
In the end, what all of this comes down to is having the capability to ensure that your enterprise continues to operate as before, both when you move to the new SAP S/4HANA platform and as you continue making multiple updates after the move. Every integration between what you have now and what you will have in the future must be tested before, during and after the move, with the most business-critical processes prioritized for continuous testing in the future. At Sogeti, we make this prioritization using Product Risk Analysis, a key building block of our renowned TMap® test management approach, during each client’s move to SAP S/4HANA.
I hope you have found this series of blogs useful as you start to plan your move to SAP S/4HANA. While the SAP deadline is a few years ahead of us, it’s important to begin preparing for this change sooner rather than later. I urge starting with an assessment of the most critical processes to understand how any changes to your applications landscape and architecture might impact them. This will also give you a clear view of the automation Lego blocks you need to prioritize on building first. Further, having clarity of thought on the harmonized tools and frameworks to be used will make this transition a lot easier and more effective to manage.
For information on Sogeti’s SAP S/4HANA Business Assurance services, please get in touch with Jeba Abraham.