Testing is the #1 bottle-neck in software and IT – and it keeps growing

Oct 09, 2019 / by Nikhil Sharma

It is normal that testing consumes 30-40% of the average IT budget. Given the amount of work and stakes related to it, it soon becomes clear that manual testing simply isn’t an option anymore. Testing is routinely cited as the #1 bottleneck in delivery speed for example. The industry-average test automation rate is currently a dismal 18% overall—and another research suggests that it’s actually closer to 8% for large enterprises working with complex systems including SAP.

"We are afraid that the existing 8% of test automation will fall short to the adoption of SAP S/4HANA", says Nikhil Sharma, Product Manager in Qentinel. The question is, how to succeed in SAP related updates end-to-end and how to identify different pain points before they cause bigger problems in your core business processes? In this article Sharma discusses the insights about pain points in SAP system from the perspective of SAP S/4HANA transition.

Companies who have opted SAP as their enterprise software, rely heavily on its uninterrupted functioning in order for their businesses to run smooth. The end-to-end business processes which are the backbone of any company whatsoever, run through SAP and the surrounding ecosystem.  Even a small hiccup can result into huge financial losses, and irreparable damages to brand image, Sharma estimates.  Another challenge is related to the system architecture landscape which is usually huge and complex. Over the period of time, a lot of custom ABAP (Advanced Business Application Programming) code has been written to connect different business processes and expand the coverage thereof, by integrating with 3rd party applications. Any update somewhere in this complex ecosystem, whether it is SAP itself or the rest of it, poses a serious threat to the overall business. To avoid landing in such deep waters, Sharma gives good advice. The companies need to have an exhaustive QA (Quality Assurance) in place. When an update is impending and there is a deadline, the often underestimated QA becomes a challenge, if not financial it does definitely create a lot of stress on otherwise limited time.  

Even though the companies have scoped well for testing, the sheer amount of testing to be done is overwhelming. Giving some context, each time the SAP infrastructure or business processes change, you need business owners for the knowledge of the processes. You also need someone to do the testing and there needs to be a proper documentation for the tester on the business processes or a proper knowledge transfer from business owners to the testers. After that you rely on internal business users or dedicated manual testers to click through each critical business process and note whether the expected results are achieved at every step. As you can imagine, this is an incredibly slow and costly process. Completing a single test cycle commonly takes weeks or even months and there are multiple cycles of testing before the final deployment. Subsequently, a lot of testing left unconducted, which consequently increases the quality debt and impacts your business, Sharma sums up. 

The above existing pain points in the SAP world will accentuate in frequency and intensity of these challenges with SAP S/4HANA migration. Not only during the migration but also after adoption. With a shift towards more and more agile development and DevOps, the amount of releases are increasing and so is the strain on testing. If you can’t test enough and test often, the quality debt will hold you back from becoming successful. Thus, in order to exist, operate and be successful you mandatorily need faster feedback cycles. You need to know as often as possible how is the quality of your SAP ecosystem now and how it is likely going to be after an update. The idea behind S/4HANA is to have a more agile SAP platform, enable new business processes, introduce new features, accelerate speed of businesses etc. That’s why investing in a test automation solution will help you keep up with the pace of such rapid development. Sharma reminds, that we are now standing amidst this massive digital SAP migration to SAP S/4HANA and companies needs to leverage on full potential of test automation to stay ahead of the competition.

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Topics: SAP, Test Automation, end-to-end

Nikhil Sharma

Written by Nikhil Sharma