Should you use an automated testing solution during ERP implementation?

Once you select an ERP system, there is much work yet to do.  That work includes project management, communications, change management, training, and testing.  All of these, including testing are critical to a successful implementation.

ERP testing - the basics

One common technique for ERP testing is to create scripts that demonstrate typical, or occasional, transactions.  Step through the transaction, examine the results, and verify they are satisfactory.  When a problem is detected, understand the cause, make corrections, and run the test again.

The process usually begins with initial scripts that are a single transaction.  Receiving a purchase order or writing a check to a supplier might be a couple of the first tests.  Later testing will include a series of transactions.  That purchase order receipt is next examined with an incoming quality check and then moved to inventory.  The last stage of testing is often called order to cash or a similar title that describes the testing of a chain of transactions through several departments and might run over weeks in real life.

Running the tests in a controlled, laboratory-style environment is important.  They are repetitive and it is easy for people to vary the test just to make it a little more interesting.

Automating the testing process

Using an automated testing solution for your ERP maintains the necessary control over the experiment.  The same tests will run much faster with an automated system so that more testing can be completed in the same time.  Those ten people in the conference room can do other work and the cost of testing can be reduced too.

Test your new ERP and go live successfully using the steps in this comprehensive ERP implementation guide

When any test fails, we must take the time to understand all the causes, especially the root cause.  Were the steps defined in the script incorrect?  Is there some configuration switch set that caused the unexpected result?  Is there a flaw in the master data due to some misunderstanding when the data from a legacy system was translated before importing into the new ERP?  The distinctions are narrow and we often think we found the cause until some other error pops up on the retest.  One test seems successful and we only recognize the problem when we test a following transaction in another department.

A good testing system will not only run the tests quickly and consistently, it will analyze possible causes and point us in the right direction for a correction.  The test we marked as green light last week will change to yellow this week when the system recognizes it was the cause of downstream failure.

Automated testing systems are relatively new and many of us have successfully implemented ERP systems without them.  They are another tool we can use today to help make the next implementation succeed.

There is a cost to automated testing.  The people we use now for manual testing cost money too.  Each business can find their balance.  The speed and controlled accuracy make automated testing a good tool for any ERP implementation.  One manual condition automated testing will resolve for any of us is retesting.  Too often some tests has succeeded many times but a seemingly unconnected later update can cause a failure we never see without continually retesting.

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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

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Tom Miller

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