Date: 11 November 2022
Implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning solution is just the start of a long relationship, not entirely unlike buying a new car. Just like the car requires regular servicing and maintenance if it is to deliver the best results over time, getting the most from your ERP solution requires regular attention, which includes a regular update schedule. These days, staying on top of the maintenance is more important than ever, spurred on by the constant threat of new and emerging security vulnerabilities, while your software vendor also keeps working hard in the background delivering improvements, fixing bugs, and introducing new functionality.
Sounds simple and ‘common sense’ enough, but…the time and effort involved are frequently underestimated.
For many ERP system owners, staying on top of a relentless upgrade cycle is a real challenge. Three months or six months flits by practically unnoticed, and suddenly you’re a release behind. We have a customer who took a breather after a punishing implementation (yes, they are all punishing!) only to discover that the ‘just installed’ product was already two versions outside of the current. The poor finance team barely had a chance to look up from their work!
The trouble is compounded by the difficulty of upgrades; in fact, many find a major upgrade somewhat reminiscent of the implementation, and not in a good way. It is demanding, fraught with risk, and takes time away from business-as-usual tasks. In some cases, the upgrade process, along with testing and quality assurance, can take four to six weeks or even longer. That’s the sort of thing liable to make upgrades and maintenance feel like a never-ending tunnel. And one of the major gripes? The testing is tedious, time-consuming, repetitive, and, well, a pain in the whatsit.
But there’s good news if you’re looking for a light at the end of it. With appropriate support from a QA perspective, you can accelerate the pace of upgrades, automating away much of the testing while dropping the time taken from weeks to mere days.
There are essentially two ways of doing upgrades:
- Manually, on your own, whenever there’s time to get it done
Though there is a lot at stake with ERP, upgrades quite commonly fall by the wayside. While this is probably more the case with older, on-premise systems, it happens with recent implementations too (as outlined above). After all, we’re all busy, there are competing priorities, and for better or worse, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ combines with other factors to leave good enough alone.
This often ends when push comes to shove…and the vendor cuts off support for older software. Or you run into security or compatibility issues, and a major mission to get things back up to speed.
- With a plan and specialist support
Yes, there is a better way that not only makes things easier for the finance and IT teams who generally get involved in ERP updates. That starts with a plan for the fact that maintenance and upgrades are a continuous process that includes allocating operational expenditure, time, and resources.
Part of this should include automated testing (and automating the right tests). After all, those tests – regression, performance, and so on – are repetitive. They are predictably dull. That makes them ideal for automation – and Assurity has a systematic and flexible approach to support any Automation Project endeavor.
In fact, when we build automated test assets for you (which can reside in our Assurity Cloud Platform, allowing for self-service or fully serviced run and maintenance), they help shrink the time taken for upgrades from weeks to days.
With the reduced timeframe, the concertina effect of upgrade cycles rolling into one another is avoided. It means every upgrade becomes predictable in terms of time, cost and effort, so there’s no need to fear it (or, reduce the worry as a start!).
And when you’re regularly upgrading rather than sporadically, you’ll get better at it, too.
The result is a consistently up-to-date ERP, quality assured with exhaustive and comprehensive testing. That means more secure, higher quality software.
Some additional notes on test automation
While we’d love to, the reality is you can’t automate everything, so experienced people are always required. But test automation will reduce demand on your people, and our test specialists are available to support your upgrade regime as and when necessary.
Exactly how and where test automation fits into your specific environment comes down to an individual assessment; generally, you’ll find test automation on demand from the Assurity Cloud reduces costs and improves Return on Investment numbers. Get in touch, and we’ll gladly assess your environment and show you how we can help.