Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is among the most vibrantly developing software. According to Grand View Research, the global ERP market reached 54.76bn in 2022, and the growth trend is projected to continue until 2030. A steadily growing demand is explainable: an ERP system is a centralized all-enterprise data hub.
ERP systems work as the brain of a company controlling and optimizing critical business activities – procurement, inventory, production, supply chain operations, project management, accounting, delivery, finance, risk management, and compliance. So how to deploy such a system efficiently, and is thorough ERP testing a prerequisite for a successful adoption? We’ll explore the matter.
ERP system: why is testing required?
Though many ERP solutions come as off-the-shelf tools, already tested by vendors, deploying such software will still require quality assurance and testing services on the customer’s side to ensure it is implemented and fine-tuned to bring maximum benefits to a particular business.
ERP integrations with a company’s corporate infrastructure and external solutions, as well as further customizations, should also undergo a testing phase before roll-out. Customizing a solution requires writing new code. In its turn, the new code should be tested to ensure the entire system works without malfunctions.
In addition, a smooth operation of the ERP solution presupposes seamless data traveling across an entire digital ecosystem of a business. Hence, the systems should be integrated with one another. Therefore, software testing is indispensable for deploying an effective and efficient ERP solution.
ERP testing types
QA efforts for ERP solutions encompass six testing types. Each testing type serves its own purpose, and combined, they can ensure the ultimate quality of your enterprise resource planning solution.
Data quality verification
Quality system data is paramount for an ERP solution. That is why QA specialists review and check the available data for completeness, accuracy, timeliness, and reliability. They also ensure the data is distributed across databases properly.
Data testing engineers can detect duplicates, incomplete entries, and errors caused by the human factor and manual data entry. After the quality checks, you can fix the identified issues and move the data to a new system.
This testing type helps the team assess if all the functions specified in the project requirements work properly. First, testers analyze the requirements and study the business logic of the ERP solution to implement. Then testers carefully assess the features against their specific requirements to ensure they produce the expected results for the user. In doing so, QA specialists detect bugs of varying severity. Then the QA team submits test results to the developers to debug the system.
To ensure that the new functionality doesn’t affect the existing set of features negatively, QA specialists run regression testing. This type of testing is performed when a new feature appears to verify that the system functions accurately. Due to its tedious nature, regression testing is the top candidate for test automation.
An enterprise resource planning solution should facilitate business operations and improve transparency. Hence, it should be integrated with several internal and external digital systems. Typically, an ERP solution is integrated with a CRM tool, accounting software, electronic data interchange (EDI), BI solutions, and communication tools. As for the integration with third-party solutions, it greatly depends on the company’s industry. The most common external solutions to integrate include social media, shipping providers’ software, banking tools, and e-commerce platforms. The data from internal modules and external solutions should travel smoothly across the entire ERP system.
Before going live with the ERP, you should check if the data moves across the touch points without bottlenecks. To test ERP integrations, you can use typical scenarios system users follow in their daily work. This way, you can detect integration bugs your company can come across in real life and prevent potential negative effects timely.
This type of testing helps the team check if the system speed, responsiveness, stability, and scalability remain satisfactory under varying conditions. As a rule, testers assess the system behavior under extreme and regular loads. For example, they perform the following:
- Run stress testing to find the maximal number of simultaneous users to find the system’s upper limits.
- Perform load testing to assess the system performance when the expected number of users use the software at the same time to check the system’s work in regular conditions. For example, if some three-thirds of marketing and sales departments work in the ERP simultaneously.
Performance testing is usually an automated effort required before go-live and system upgrades.
Cross-browser compatibility testing
Cloud ERP platforms have gained prominence recently. In 2022, the cloud ERP market size reached nearly $65 billion, according to MarketsandMarkets. The market size is projected to double in 2027. Cloud ERPs are usually provided as software-as-as-service (SaaS). This specificity extends solutions’ availability, as users can connect to cloud ERPs from any location with internet access and a preferred browser. In this case, QA experts should perform cross-browser compatibility testing to ensure that ERP works without delays or interruptions in any popular browser.
However, testing the compatibility manually is time-consuming and error-prone. Test automation can help you reduce testing time and prevent human errors.
ERP systems are a treasure chest of valuable business-critical information, and their security should be bulletproof. The critical security points for ERP software include:
- System access. As a rule, ERP systems follow two-layer security measures – role-based access and multi-factor authentication via a mobile (possession type). These measures ensure that the user connecting to an ERP is the one who actually has access.
- Security patches implementation. Though ERP vendors develop and spread security patches among their customers, users often miss notifications and stay unprotected. This negligence can be troublesome. According to a 2021 report by SAP and Onapsis, over 300 automated SAP exploitations could be prevented with the developed patches.
- Vulnerability scanning. Cybersecurity experts explore the system to find weak spots that can leak critical data. The specialists deliver recommendations on how to seal the identified loopholes.
- Penetration testing. Penetration testing is a mock attack on your digital environment. Information security experts employ methods and techniques malignant actors use to get into your system and exploit its vulnerabilities. After the mock attack, experts deliver a test report with improvement recommendations. Following them, you can fortify the security measures and prevent hacking attacks.
Full-scale ERP testing is a prerequisite for a successful system deployment – an off-the-shelf or a custom – whatever solution you choose. QA and testing are necessary to ensure that the new system works seamlessly, efficiently, and smoothly with all your business processes and is tuned to suit your requirements.
Companies willing to successfully implement ERP into their business need a strong in-house testing team or dedicated external QA specialists from a software development partner that implements an ERP system. You can also seek professional assistance from specialized companies that provide QA and testing services for any software, including ERP.
A: Testing an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is crucial to ensure its functionality, performance, and reliability. ERP systems integrate various business processes and data, impacting multiple departments within an organization. Testing helps identify potential defects, security vulnerabilities, and usability issues, ensuring the ERP system functions as intended and meets the organization’s requirements.
A: Testing an ERP system typically involves the following key steps:
1. Test Planning: Define the testing objectives, scope, and strategies. Identify the necessary resources, test environments, and test data required for the testing process.
2. Test Design: Create test cases and test scenarios based on the system’s functional and non-functional requirements. Consider different business processes, user roles, and system interactions.
3. Test Execution: Execute the planned tests, record the results, and verify whether the ERP system behaves as expected. This includes functional testing, integration testing, performance testing, security testing, and user acceptance testing.
4. Defect Reporting and Tracking: Document any defects or issues discovered during testing, assign severity levels, and track their resolution through bug tracking systems.
5. Test Closure: Analyze test results, generate test reports, and assess the overall quality of the ERP system. Evaluate whether the system is ready for production deployment or if further testing iterations are required.
A: Testing an ERP system can present several challenges, including:
1. Complexity: ERP systems are often complex, involving multiple modules, integrations, and business processes. Testing such complexity requires a comprehensive understanding of the system and its dependencies.
2. Data Management: Testing an ERP system requires appropriate test data that mirrors real-world scenarios. Managing and generating the necessary test data can be time-consuming and challenging.
3. Test Environment Setup: Setting up a representative test environment that mimics the production environment can be challenging due to hardware and software requirements, data synchronization, and system configurations.
4. User Involvement: Engaging end-users and stakeholders for user acceptance testing and gathering feedback can be a challenge, as they may have limited availability or expertise in testing.
5. Change Management: ERP systems are often subject to frequent updates, patches, and customization. Ensuring that testing keeps pace with these changes can be demanding and require effective change management strategies.
A: Various types of tests are typically performed on an ERP system, including:
1. Functional Testing: Verifying that the ERP system’s functionalities, such as financial management, inventory control, or order processing, work correctly according to the defined requirements.
2. Integration Testing: Testing the interaction and data exchange between different modules, third-party systems, and interfaces to ensure seamless integration.
3. Performance Testing: Assessing the ERP system’s response time, scalability, and resource utilization under different load conditions to ensure it can handle the expected user and transaction volumes.
4. Security Testing: Identifying vulnerabilities, access control issues, and data protection measures within the ERP system to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability.
5. User Acceptance Testing: Involving end-users to validate the ERP system’s usability, intuitiveness, and alignment with their business processes. This test ensures the system meets the users’ requirements and expectations.
A: Yes, several testing tools are available specifically designed for testing ERP systems. These tools often provide features for test case management, test data management, test execution, and defect tracking. Some popular ERP testing tools include SAP Test Acceleration and Optimization (SAP TAO), Oracle Application Testing Suite, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Test Automation. However, the selection of testing tools should be based on the specific ERP system