This is part 4 of a 6 part series. See the entire series here.
This is where the organization will really start hammering on the new system. The testing phase as part of an ERP implementation will follow after development, where most of the configurations and customizations were made. End users also began training in a special training environment with sample data. There’s no defined boundary between development and testing. In fact, there will be significant overlap between the two throughout the process. To review the development phase and other phases in the implementation process, more articles in this series can be found here.
The objectives for the testing phase will be to:
- Validate system functionality alignment with requirements
- Fine tune configuration
- Establish end user proficiency
5 Crucial Points for Testing a New ERP System
User Acceptance Testing
Developing and executing the UAT plan will largely fall on the shoulders of the project team because they know the business. In order for the testing process to be successful, the users have to define what it is they want to see, and then develop a testing plan to the level of comfort need to accept the product as deployed. The implementation team will work with the project team to develop the testing scenarios to ensure all parts of the system are tested.
Import Sample Data
Part of the go-live process involves loading static and dynamic data. Static data are elements that don’t change frequently such as customers, vendors, inventory items and so on. Dynamic data changes frequently and includes things like accounts payable and receivable invoices and inventory quantities.
Often it makes sense to export that data out of the old system and import it into the new system. Part of testing should include the export and import processes. Particularly with dynamic data you will want to ensure that process works efficiently so as to minimize system downtime during conversion.
Importing some static and dynamic data enables the project team to perform system testing with familiar information and better enables simulating running the business in the new system.
During the “testing” phase the teams may determine that some slight adjustments are necessary to some configurations in order to optimize the use of the system in running the business. If adjustments are required, they are made in both the test and go-live systems.
Establish “Cut-off” Strategy
Transitioning from the old system to the new system can take a variety of paths. In the past, companies converted systems one module at a time, or they would run both systems in parallel. The problem with those approaches is the workload for users more than doubles. They have to build interfaces to get the systems to communicate or work in both systems, and reconcile differences.
The typical approach now is to build confidence in the new system and user training through thorough testing, and then cut over all at once. At this point in the process the teams should have a full understanding of how to do the conversion. They should put in place a plan to finish training other users and bring over the static and dynamic data.
I worked with a well-funded start-up who had about $1,000,000 in payables just prior to go-live. The controller concluded that it would be much easier to just pay off all the open invoices rather than spend the time on data import and validation, and it certainly was. I have been involved in over 150 implementations and this was the only time a company took this approach.
Simulate Running the Business
Just prior to the go-live decision, the teams should work jointly to perform one final test of the system, sometimes referred to as a conference room pilot. The project team should prepare a final test scenario that simulates running the entire business in the new system. Hopefully this will either confirm that the team and the system is ready for the final step – going live.
Deliver End User Training
Once the confirmation has been made by the project team, members fan out to train the end users in their respective departments. I’ve found that it’s helpful to set up a designated training environment where there are a few workstations, a whiteboard, and projector for employees to practice and receive training instruction.