Get to know your business first – then test, test, test
Let’s face it, if you’re running a full or partial SAP landscape you just want it to do what it’s supposed to do. After all, SAP is a stable application with few issues generally encountered during customization. But, of course, SAP typically interfaces with a wide range of business processes and other non-SAP applications. It’s also on the move – to cloud – enabling the previous quarterly release cycle to become more frequent.
All of the above creates a complex SAP landscape, in which change is continuous and rapid, while business processes span multiple start and end points. Yet, to have business assurance, you need your end-to-end business processes to run flawlessly, despite this complexity in the digital core.
The solution to this lies in testing. And more testing. That’s nothing new. Many of our own clients with mature testing functions recognize the need for specialized SAP testing and a structured test process. Others, perhaps less mature, still test, but often on an ad hoc basis, or trusting that an acceptance test by their key users is sufficient. At either level of maturity, we’ve identified a critical challenge.
Too many test teams fail to understand the business requirements of what they’re testing from the outset. Whether that’s integrations between SAP and non-SAP applications, the performance of new processes in SAP, or interfaces with partner or end-customer applications. The culture is to see testing as a goal in itself, rather than something that supports business objectives. This increases both business risk and the level of test effort, with the ensuing costs.
A domain-centric approach
If you want to provide business assurance in your SAP landscape, understanding the business from the outset really matters. At the same time, your Change Management, Release Management and Test Management teams should all be synchronized and working towards the same business goals. A knowledge of the very specific needs of your industry is also crucial – what we call a domain-centric approach – because all sectors are working towards different end games.
This industry insight enables you to take the shortest route to the right answer. By which I mean having a meaningful discussion with business process owners, jointly being able to prioritize critical transactions and, depending on a specific situation, come up with the appropriate test strategy and quality measures.
To illustrate this point, here are a few industry-specific examples based on our own client engagements:
- Life Sciences: in this heavily regulated industry, a deep understanding of how the traceability matrix works with different test tooling is crucial. GxP regulations demand data accuracy and authentication, but if the testing fails to uncover a flaw in a process within the SAP landscape, non-compliance is highly likely.
- Retail: we’re finding the challenge here is more often around interfaces, with a majority of landscapes being only part SAP. This makes collaboration and even vendor management vital. Retail is also very much a B2C sector and a flawed release can have major reputational and cost repercussions.
- Telecoms: here it’s all about code quality. That’s because, just as in retail, defects instantly impact the end customers, who are always in a position to switch provider or call in with a complaint when something goes wrong. Testing of all the customer interfaces, such as product offers, billing, fulfilment, issue resolution, etc. is complex, but essential and, as the rollout of 5G continues, this will be an even more pressing need. As an example, we know of one telco that received 27,000 customer calls after a glitch in a release for its billing cycle sent out bills in which pennies (p) appeared as pounds (£).
Focus on priorities, not on everything
At Sogeti, in multiple accounts we’re finding that curating domain knowledge, and then sharing it in an easy to use format, is priceless when it comes to test strategy. By understanding the domain and its unique challenges, we can deliver focused testing, rather than testing everything – saving costs and speeding up time to release.
This is integral to our domain-approach to delivering business assurance in SAP. We’ve used it in diverse sectors, including healthcare, automotive, aerospace, and energy & utilities. Each of these has different SAP asset and interfaces. For example, in energy & utilities, the SAP CRM and SAP IS-U might interface with smart meters, demand response mechanisms and field support tools.
Without this business lens it can be easy to look too hard at the wrong indicators. That’s why we start with the business and domain insight, then create the strategy and the testing tools that deliver it.
If you’d like to hear more about our domain-specific approach to Business Assurance in SAP visit our page Digital Assurance & Testing.