Re-visiting test automation for SAP S/4HANA
Are you getting ready to transition to SAP S/4HANA? With SAP ending maintenance on its old core platforms in 2025, it’s a move that several of our clients are preparing for, or already making.
An integral part of this transition is the need for efficient testing, and test automation is at the crux of this need. However, test automation as it is classically viewed needs to be re-visited for effective assurance of your S/4HANA landscape. In the past, it was typically an afterthought, used to assure the landscape stability once it was up and running.
That’s no longer viable. Any modern testing strategy should have test automation baked in from the outset. We can see this especially with the adoption of S/4HANA, which is often embedded in bigger transformation programs.
Testing all the moving parts
It is quite common today to see the transition to S/4HANA happening at the same time as – or closely tied in to – a move to cloud. This brings multiple moving parts, with constant changes having the potential to affect a business process somewhere. Upgrade versions, new features, improved functionality: it’s a turbulent environment where everything is connected.
Test automation offers speed and efficiency to ensure that all these changes are optimized for the business. The typical S/4HANA installation is heavily integrated with SaaS or cloud applications, bringing with it a need to re-test integrations multiple times due to constant changes or upgrades. Manual testing is simply not fast enough or comprehensive enough.
Selecting the right test automation tools
How do you know what test automation tools are right for your S/4HANA landscape? There are numerous options for mature test automation tools. The appropriate tools should give you full visibility of the end-to-end processes, from requirements traceability right through to the software defects themselves.
A lot will depend on the extent of your S/4HANA usage. At Sogeti, we work with our clients to define a test automation roadmap that considers what applications (both SAP and non-SAP) they’re using now and intend to use in the future. How much of their landscape is SAP and how much is outside SAP? What is the test automation coverage target? The choice of test automation tool will be shaped by these considerations.
Of course, cost is another factor. Some tools are more expensive than others and the procurement decision will have to balance efficacy with cost. We often find ourselves conducting a test automation assessment where we advise on the best tools to achieve this balance – which, could also include Sogeti’s own cloud platform offering pay-per-use test tools.
Another scenario is where a customer is already using open source tools, but these might not be suitable for automated testing of the SAP parts of their IT landscape. In this instance it’s worth implementing a hybrid framework embracing any combination, including open source tools integrated with licensed tools.
For me, one of the most important tool selection criteria for S/4HANA automated testing is that the toolset should support efficiency, modularity and reusability. This modularity and reuse will be important as the S/4HANA landscape continues to evolve because it will mean reduced maintenance effort going forward. The tools you use should also integrate easily with your development and project methodology, whether that’s Waterfall or Agile.
Achieving your test automation outcomes
When you’re creating your test automation strategy and selecting the appropriate tools, your focus should always be on the outcomes. What do you want to achieve? Clearly, it’s about assuring that when you go live with SAP S/4HANA, your business will continue to run. But you can build in a tolerance level, whereby you prioritize certain business-critical processes that absolutely must not fail over the less critical elements. It’s always a combination of the process and the data. For example, while validating the S/4HANA landscape, a retailer might prioritize certain merchandized items that constitute a major part of the revenue, as well as certain legal requirements.
This prioritization should be part of your test data framework, which is crucial for shaping your SAP S/4HANA test automation strategy. In a test automation project for a manufacturing customer, we had to accommodate hundreds of different product variants for the same Make To Order process as part of our test automation framework. The number of product variants meant that it wasn’t possible to test everything. So, our framework was built around the previous 12 months’ sales orders to identify the most common product variants – a sample set on which automated testing could be carried out. This testing framework meant we could provide business assurance across 85% of the product variants on the new SAP S/4HANA system.
Adding further value with test automation
Automated testing allows us to test 100% of combinations with a simple test data framework (e.g. the Orthogonal Array Technique), but it has other practical applications too. We’ve used test automation to help customers validate their cutover plans for the transition to S/4HANA before cutover to live operations. We run simple environment validation scripts after cutover rehearsals to identify gaps and enable build teams to identify and fix the sequence of transition steps and add any necessary checkpoints.
In another practical application of test automation, we used it to create test data for a customer’s end-user trainings on S/4HANA. In a huge training exercise on the new processes on S/4HANA , we tested different user journey scenarios in the system, including new invoicing processes in the accounts function. This gave the organization the assurance that both its people and its new platform could work in harmony post go live.
Embedding automation in your S/4HANA journey
Finally, I hope I have given you a flavor or the value that test automation can bring to your transition to S/4HANA. I reiterate that it should be integral to your test strategy, not viewed as an afterthought. And both modular and reusable tools should feature in your test automation toolkit.
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