How to effectively plan ERP implementation and Testing?

The functioning of an organisation covers a broad sweep of departments and processes, which more often than not work in respective silos with just a cursory level of communication amongst them. Besides, the range of IT implementation in many departments remains a bare minimum, leaving others to function in the old fashioned way.

Enterprise Resource Planning or ERP aims to change that state of affairs by integrating all departments and processes of an organisation under a single IT driven umbrella. This is the best way to leverage the strengths of each department, streamline their operations, break silos, establish communication, and reorient their activities towards a common business goal.

ERP implementation can work simultaneously with ERP quality assurance to ensure that deliverables are market ready, qualitatively robust and competitive. A successful ERP implementation (along with ERP Testing) can transform a company to being the one that leverages the strengths of IT to achieve its vision, and stay ahead in competition.

With frequent changes in market dynamics, customer preferences and technology, companies need to strategize for better utilization of available resources and come out with products/services that can attune them to the altered market realities. As part of the strategy, companies can usher in IT by linking all departments/processes to a centralised hub called Enterprise Resource Planning software suite. Benefits of ERP implementation are as below:

· Disseminating department wise goals and an overall organisation goal for everyone to follow.

· Establish synergy amongst departments and leveraging their strengths to reach the common goal.

· Establish a common GUI based interface for everyone to work on thus streamlining the functions of various departments.

· Identify non productive activities and reduce redundancy.

· Measure productivity of human resources against pre-determined metrics.

· Monitor the red flags within each department like depletion in inventory, customer complaints, HR issues, etc.

ERP implementation integrates various branches, departments, and processes of an organisation through a suite of applications. This suite has its strengths across departments such as planning, purchase, inventories, sales, marketing, manufacturing, operations, human resources, administration, finance, customer care et al. The comprehensive suite provides real time information (in most cases) related to an organisation’s core business processes.

The success of ERP depends mainly on ERP quality assurance, whereby applications are tested in a production environment to check their efficacy and responsiveness, for any gap in the process can boomerang on the final deliverables.

Best practices for ERP implementation

Design and Planning: The project team studies various departments of the company, their processes, challenges and outcomes. In fact, the team should include experts from each department, wherein members identify limitations within the current system and suggest ways to eliminate or minimise them. A prototype of the system is designed as per the overall business requirements.

Actual building of prototype: The system is actually developed wherein various departments (along with databases) are integrated through customized applications that are further linked to a central hub. This phase also includes training a select few personnel of various departments to use the prototype.

ERP Testing: This phase tests and validates the system for functioning, and generating deliverables that meet end users’ expectations.

Deployment and Support: The system is loaded with actual data and it goes LIVE. This phase also includes training personnel, who will use the system in real time. The ERP testing services along with the development team will configure the system as and when issues crop up.

Best practices for ERP quality assurance

Integrated Conference Room Pilot phase: The functioning of modules is checked individually and collectively.

Department wise test cases: Each department’s processes along with variations are tested. After each round of test, regression testing is also undertaken to check if the configured system works fine.

Functionality test or UAT: Actual users of the system check for its responsiveness, and bottlenecks.

Load test: Check for any downtime or latency when the system is subjected to additional load a la ERP testing.

Migration test: A dry run of actual ERP implementation is carried out preferably on weekends or holidays.

Michael works for Cigniti Technologies, which is one of the North America’s largest Independent Software Testing companies, appraised at CMMI-SVC v1.3, Maturity Level 5, and an ISO 9001:2008 & ISO 27001:2013 certified organization.