How to thoroughly test your manufacturing ERP

Testing is only one phase of ERP implementation in a manufacturing environment, but many consider it to be the most important phase. Whether you choose an off-the-shelf package that claims best of breed features or decided to customize or develop your own manufacturing ERP application, there is one important, common factor – both need to work in your business and deliver the improvements you used to justify the new ERP. Unless you test manufacturing ERP extensively, you rely on hope.

What should be tested in manufacturing? Everything

Write a purchase order and receive it. Receive one line to inventory and another to expense or capital assets. Does the PO receipt pass through incoming quality inspection as it should? Do you see the inventory quantity increase? Do the debits and credits on the finance side align the way you expect? Start with simple tests like these. You will probably find the results are good but there will be cases where the system doesn’t work as expected. Dig as deep as is necessary and understand what went wrong. Was it a training deficiency related to the person testing? Was there a data migration issue? Maybe there was a configuration setting you had overlooked. Fix the problem and test again until you know the result will be what you intend.

Recommended reading: manufacturing ERP failure - 6 common causes

You will always fix problems that completely stop your ERP processing transactions, but any small problems left unfixed will still be considered a failure, even if only to a small group of users. One example may be procurement of a wire component that is bought by weight of a reel but is used by length. What formula converts pounds to centimeters? Testing your manufacturing ERP would have shown you had to buy in length or change the process to issue by weight. This situation would make inventory valuation much more difficult than it should be.

Thorough testing is the only way to be certain your manufacturing ERP provides the results you need.

Be sure you can retrieve quality data to satisfy any compliance requirements. Your customer wants to know the people working on their products have documented training. Test that the ERP can store training data related to production workers. Test the ERP to verify that users who lack the necessary training cannot start work on any production jobs related to that customer. Failure here could lead to the loss of an important customer or certification.

A staging environment

The final consideration when it comes to testing your ERP is the construction of your system testing environment. There are a couple of different options here, but the ideal scenario for most is the creation of a staging system. This staging system should be an exact replica of the database you constructed during data migration in which your test process can be applied without the risk of process disruption. If constructed correctly, this staging system can then push successful changes to a live or pre-go-live iteration of the system. In a manufacturing environment, this means users from all departments can test processes along the production chain with the knowledge that rigorous testing is not a risk to system health.

Thorough testing is the only way to be certain your manufacturing ERP provides the results you need.

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Tom Miller

About the author…

Tom completed implementations of Epicor, SAP, QAD, and Micro MRP. He works as a logistics and supply chain manager and he always looks for processes to improve. He lives near San Francisco Bay in California and can be found on the water in his kayak or on the road riding his motorcycle. Contact Tom at customerteam@erpfocus.com.

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Tom Miller