As your company grows, so do your IT systems. That growth isn't always coordinated. Different branches or departments may end up with incompatible software systems or databases. Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, makes it easier to access and share information companywide.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Experts recommend that enterprise resource planning software be tested before the system goes live in order to confirm that everything works.
Why Use ERP?
Most 21st-century companies have some sort of financial software in place from the start. As your company grows, though, the original IT may need an upgrade.
- After a certain point, your software may not be robust or sophisticated enough to keep up with your needs.
- Your original system may not be suitable for employees or customers who want to access it from their laptops, tablets or phones rather than in your office.
- If different departments or employees purchase different systems, they may not be compatible or suited to sharing data.
Incompatibility is a common problem. If each department buys what looks best for its own needs, you may end up with a mix of software from IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and other vendors. If they're not compatible, then human resources, for example, can't call up the current staffing budget from finance and review it.
Enterprise Resource Planning
ERP software lets you manage and integrate multiple aspects of your systems, such as financial data, supply chain operations, manufacturing and HR. If departments need to collaborate or a project team needs data from several departments, that's not a problem. Everything's part of one system.
ERP software can also help you and your management team make better decisions. ERP dashboards are set up so that you can call up and assemble information quickly and easily.
Switching to ERP and replacing your older IT is a large step, though. Even though SAP, the world's largest provider, has been doing ERP for decades, switching out so much tech can still cause problems. An ERP test is a vital precaution to spot bugs and crashes before they happen.
The Need for the ERP Test
An ERP test doesn't mean your software is defective. Part of installing ERP is configuring it to set up the reports you want along with custom dashboards and other features. It's a tricky process, and it can easily result in glitches. If the code has to be customized to suit your needs, that can cause unanticipated problems too.
Once you have the ERP software installed, your IT contractor will activate it in a test environment separate from your real operations. If bugs show up, they can deal with them without disrupting your business. The system will only launch after the ERP test shows that everything is good to go.
Elements of the ERP Test
Whether your contractor is using SAP testing methodology or some other approach, the basics for an ERP test are the same:
- Does the ERP software do what it's supposed to?
- Does it integrate different modules and systems properly?
- Do the individual components and functions all work?
It's important to give the ERP test team enough time to give the system a thorough workout. If you have a definite "go live" date, the testing should be scheduled well in advance and not at the last minute. The ERP test process has several elements:
- Setting up the test environment
- Automated testing. Computerized scripts can simulate the simpler operations of the ERP system. This can identify many bugs faster than human eyes can.
- Human testing. Some of your needs for the ERP system may be too complicated for an automated ERP test. A human tester can cope with the challenge.
- Testing by users. You and your team may be asked to use the system the way you would in the real world. This has the added advantage that it will give your staff initial training in the new system.
- Review of the data
- Fixing any problems
Fraser Sherman has written about every aspect of business: how to start one, how to keep one in the black, the best business structure, the details of financial statements. He's also run a couple of small businesses of his own. He lives in Durham NC with his awesome wife and two wonderful dogs. His website is frasersherman.com