The latest World Quality Report found that when it comes to test effort on new IT spend, organizations spend 25-30% on bespoke applications and 30-40% on packaged application offerings from vendors such as SAP. For maintenance activity, the numbers range from 30-40% and 30-50% respectively. There’s clearly an increasingly significant emphasis on testing packaged applications, which could be seen as surprising given that – in theory – packaged solutions are designed, built and already pre-tested by specialist vendors. So, what’s going on? Why do organizations seem to be spending so much effort on testing their packaged solutions?
The answer lies in an organization’s customization of its packaged software. A lot of the effort in SAP regression testing, in comparison to progression testing with new apps, lies in ensuring that all the specific customizations and extensions that a business actually uses are not impacted by new software releases or updates from a packaged software vendor. In the case of SAP and customizations, business process testing needs to begin in standard functionality and extend to cover customizations. In practice, the process should run quickly through the standard vendor piece before concentrating on specific system customizations.
New SAP architectures
Instead of simply testing routine SAP software updates, upgrades and fixes, and ensuring that existing customizations still work with new software releases – as well as tracking that UI remains unchanged, SAP sites are also having to contend with migration pressures. For example, with SAP ECC has a distinct migration roadmap to SAP HANA, while the migration to SAP S/4HANA is more significant from a testing perspective with a whole new architecture and UI to contend with.
With organizations turning to SAP’s next generation infrastructure as their platform for digital transformation, it’s clear that the challenge of integrating all the different applications, devices and users involved in end-to-end business processes that enable digital transformation will have a significant and resource-intensive impact on software testing. To support this, organizations will also have to plan for shorter release cycles and faster software delivery through the application of DevOps and Agile methods. This means ensuring that the right test automation approach and test assets are in place to support this type of release cycle as part of an expedited migration.
IT infrastructures defined and driven by intelligent technologies
When SAP talks about helping businesses become Intelligent Enterprises and achieve breakthrough outcomes, it’s focusing on three essential components: Intelligent Suite, Digital Platform and Intelligent Technologies. Drawing on the power of technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced analytics and blockchain, SAP is committed to helping its customers evolve their businesses into intelligent enterprises. Central to this initiative will be the provision of new capabilities that enable their workforces to focus on higher-value outcomes, with SAP offering:
- Intelligent Suite – industry-specific, global applications to enable customers to automate their day-to-day business processes and better interact with customers, suppliers and employees
- Digital Platform – drawing on SAP Cloud Platform and the SAP HANA Data Management Suite to facilitate the collection, connection and orchestration of data to help integrate and extend processes within the Intelligent Suite
- Intelligent Technologies – drawing on SAP Leonardo to embed intelligent technologies in customers’ core processes, enabling them to use their data to detect patterns, predict outcomes and suggest actions
Given SAP’s determination to support organizations as they evolve towards the Intelligent Enterprise, it’s clear there will be a pressing demand for advanced SAP business process test automation solutions to support the need to ensure secure, high quality processes across what will become a complex applications environment.
SAP’s accelerated release strategy
In the meantime, SAP is continuing to accelerate its release and maintenance strategy for its current SAP S/4HANA environment. It’s no longer just one or two releases a year that customers have to deal with. Instead, SAP is now working on one significant release for each of its major offerings, with new S/4HANA feature stack versions coming every three months. This will be supported by monthly service pack updates. From a functionality point of view, this clearly signals SAP’s commitment to ongoing development. Enterprises need to be ready to accommodate this pace of change.
Again this highlights the requirement for an increased software testing focus to be certain that business processes are all still running effectively after SAP updates, whether that’s feature packages, software packages, different innovation paths or alternative paths. And it’s the same for SAP Cloud Solutions, with quarterly releases for SAP S/4HANA Cloud and SAP SuccessFactors Solutions, as well as monthly releases for SAP Ariba Solutions and Concur Solutions. These updates will be pushed out, so enterprises will have to upgrade. This increases the need for a flexible software testing approach across business processes, with end-to-end test coverage across key packaged and customized applications, support for a broad range of SAP UIs and technologies as well as comprehensive automated regression testing capabilities.
Modernized SAP Testing is a must – from both the CIO and the Business Tester perspective
Given the scale of SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise ambitions, as well as the sheer pace of the company’s accelerated release strategy, it really is no longer feasible for SAP customers to persist with traditional manual testing strategies. It simply doesn’t work effectively in today’s digital transformation world and is increasingly incompatible with the demands of agile processes.
The pressure to keep on developing and delivering new applications quickly is particularly challenging for CIOs; their teams not only need to be productive, but are also continually challenged to save overall IT budget costs. Given that analysts estimate that today’s enterprises currently spend more than $30 billion annually on software testing, it’s clear that there’s a real opportunity for CIOs to address both their productivity and budgetary demands through a next generation continuous testing approach that delivers new levels of automated regression testing.
Business testers also face similar challenges, and are under pressure to identify the right test data, optimize test automation and also increase their testing to gain the confidence needed before software can be released.
From both a CIO and a business tester perspective, modernizing SAP testing to cover modern SAP architectures, release cadences, and migration initiatives is essential for completing SAP projects on time and on budget.
Learning more about SAP testing and SAP testing tools
To learn more about SAP testing and SAP test automation, see the following resources:
- Gartner’s comparison of SAP testing tools and functional testing tools
- The SAP testing resource library
- Tricentis’ SAP testing site
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