Successful enterprise software development depends on speed, forcing technology leaders to do more with less. But maximizing productivity requires understanding where inefficiencies exist in your current processes – and in today’s complex enterprise IT environments, gaining this kind of visibility is far easier said than done.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “Few C-suite executives understand the inefficiencies buried in their software development processes and how addressing those inefficiencies can significantly sharpen their competitive edge.” All too often, it’s testing that hinders the speed of application delivery — specifically, the lack of a mature testing practice that prioritizes testing based on business risk and provides near real-time feedback.
This is especially true when it comes to enterprise applications like SAP. Because SAP software is critical to running the day-to-day business of an organization, business users are continuously sending change requests to their IT departments that require custom ABAP development to fulfill. However, ABAP developers don’t always understand how their code changes impact the broader SAP and business landscape, leading to errors that are only identified when a business process breaks.
This lack of visibility into risks, combined with the general challenge of developing high quality ABAP code, means defects introduced through custom development become increasingly time-consuming and expensive to fix as the code moves into production.
As the same Harvard Business Review article highlights, unit testing can be a critical component to ensuring code quality, but it is still largely a “tedious, error-prone, and time-consuming exercise” for developers. By automating unit testing, the article argues, developers can spend more time creating new software and gain the “breathing space” to deal with unplanned work and pivot in response to dynamic customer needs.
At Tricentis, we have witnessed first-hand the benefits of implementing automated testing at the unit level. But this is only one piece of the puzzle. Unit testing is great for assessing whether a piece of code itself has defects, but it cannot determine whether the code will break impacted end-to-end business processes once implemented. Ensuring that customizations will not break downstream processes often involves lengthy, complex testing cycles that limit the agility of SAP delivery times – while still allowing defects to escape into production.
Fortunately, there is a way to release custom ABAP code with both speed and quality. Organizations can ensure their custom ABAP code is tested quickly and efficiently before it is pushed into production by introducing three key quality gates – or predefined criteria that must be met before the project can progress – into their release processes. Teams can implement quality gates into the SAP release process by asking themselves and their teammates a series of questions before passing code and builds onto the next phase:
Read on to learn about the strategies that can help you implement these quality gates – and the tools that will help you ensure that the answer to these questions is “yes.”
Is my code high quality?
Unit testing and code quality checks should be kicked off as soon as custom code is committed. This way, issues in the code itself can be identified and fixed at the unit level, before they wreak ripples of havoc later on. But unit testing can be monotonous and overwhelming, taking time away from developing new features. Development teams can save time without compromising quality by incorporating automated code inspection and unit testing into their workflows.
A tool like Tricentis LiveCompare allows developers to answer the question, “Is my code high quality?” without manual intervention. LiveCompare’s Developer Impact Analysis detects an addition or change in the ABAP code in development or QA systems and automatically performs the following test and quality tasks:
- Code comparisons that link directly to the specified code change so the developer can see the before/after comparison.
- Impact alerts give developers insight into how much of an impact their change will have in the broader SAP landscape. They list all the people and places in the SAP landscape that will be impacted by the code change, including how frequently each impacted object is used and who the main users of those objects are. Naturally, changes that impact many frequently- used features carry greater risks.
- Unit test results summarize the results of the automatically executed ABAP unit tests. Developers can view the results of each unit test to diagnose any failures.
- Code quality checks summarize the results of the automatically executed ABAP code quality checks. These are a set of customizable rules that ensure the developer’s code meets recognized quality standards, including SAP HANA compatibility.
“With LiveCompare, we can be confident that custom change
introduced to our production systems will not have any negative impact.”
-Frank Schmitz, Senior Manager, SAP infrastructure, Kimberly-Clark Australia & New Zealand
Do I have the right tests?
After code is cleared to pass through the code inspection quality gate, teams need to know how those changes will affect the rest of their SAP environment. But it can be challenging for testers to determine the scope of impact for SAP releases. Teams end up testing too much, too little, or the wrong things entirely. The whole process is slowed down, costs creep up, and risk increases.
White represents objects that are not impacted by a release or update, in grey are objects that are impacted, and blue demonstrates what objects are most at risk.
Teams can turn to impact analysis tools, but these tools are not created equally. Some require lots of time and effort to configure and maintain. Even then, traditional impact analysis can only detect SAP objects that are impacted by a software change. This is a good start, but does not take into consideration how your organization uses the impacted objects, leaving their associated risks for you to determine. These tools are not able to entirely answer the question for the change impact analysis quality gate, “Do I have the right tests?”
Enterprises need automation that is intelligent enough to look beyond what is merely impacted and tell you what is most at risk from an SAP update by identifying the exact areas you need to test to minimize risk to business processes, system integrations, custom code, security, and governance. For this, you need a tool that provides change intelligence for SAP solutions, like Tricentis LiveCompare.
LiveCompare identifies the SAP objects impacted by any custom or standard update, but it doesn’t stop there. Using Risk AI, it then factors in usage data from your production SAP system. This lets you see which changes represent actual risks to your business. These are the right things to test, as they are the sources of potential defects that could bring your most critical business processes to a halt.
But LiveCompare can do even more than tell you what risks an update carries. Through integrations with your test repositories, it can analyze your test cases and tell you if you have the right tests to cover all the risks in the update – or if you have gaps that could let defects pass through untested.
With these insights, LiveCompare can then automatically generate test execution and requirements lists for the release.
When it comes to making sure your teams have the right tests for an SAP update, Tricentis LiveCompare:
- Eliminates the need for lengthy manual analysis and guesswork when it comes to testing SAP updates
- Reduces more than 90% of the risks of potential business disruption from SAP changes
- Streamlines and accelerates the testing process, cutting the average test scope for a release by 85% by eliminating unnecessary tests and focusing on what’s at risk
“The benefits of LiveCompare are really clear: less conditions to test, less effort in testing, and less production incidents.”
-ERP principal test manager, telecommunications
Did I test what I needed to test?
Before code is passed from QA to production, teams should be able to answer yes to the question, “Did I test what I needed to test?” by adding a test audit quality gate to their release process. Performing a test audit gives teams and release managers the insights to know when a release has been sufficiently tested and the confidence that any business risk has been eliminated.
When integrated with an automated testing solution like Tricentis Tosca, LiveCompare’s test auditing capabilities easily gives teams the visibility and assurance needed to make smarter deployment decisions.
The example below demonstrates the powerful reporting views available in LiveCompare. Green indicates that the tests for the associated objects have been executed and passed. Red indicates that testing has failed for that object. Grey indicates that the object has not yet been tested.
With these quality gates in place, organizations can release high quality SAP updates on time and with confidence, from custom transports to S/4HANA migrations.
One of our customers, OMV, implemented SAP quality gates to do just this. With a goal to complete three bluefield installations of S/4HANA in 18 months, the OMV team knew they would need a way to streamline testing, which they estimated would take up to six weeks per instance. The quality challenge was two-fold: OMV needed to ensure that they could migrate valuable custom code to the new system without introducing risk, while also releasing new customizations with functionality available in S/4HANA. Their success was largely due to the dramatic time saved in testing: By focusing their testing approach on the highest-risk areas with LiveCompare and automating the corresponding test cases with Tosca, OMV cut testing time in half. This approach allowed the team to minimize any negative impacts of migrating custom code upfront, and ultimately, deliver all three S/4HANA instances on time.
SAP’s choice for faster, safer, lower cost releases
Tricentis and SAP have a strategic partnership to help customers accelerate and de-risk their SAP releases. We were the first to integrate with SAP Solution Manager and our close relationship has grown ever since. We are now co-innovating so you get automated testing out-of-the-box for all new SAP solutions. As our customer, you’ll rest easy knowing our longstanding partnership with SAP and proven track record means we have the experience to help you make your SAP initiatives succeed.
Tricentis is the global leader in enterprise continuous testing, widely credited for reinventing software testing for DevOps, cloud, and enterprise applications. The Tricentis AI-based, continuous testing platform provides a new and fundamentally different way to perform software testing. An approach that’s totally automated, fully codeless, and intelligently driven by AI. It addresses both agile development and complex enterprise apps, enabling enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation by dramatically increasing software release speed, reducing costs, and improving software quality. Tricentis has been widely recognized as the leader by all major industry analysts, including being named the leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant five years in a row. Tricentis has more than 1,800 customers, including the largest brands in the world, such as McKesson, Accenture, Nationwide Insurance, Allianz, Telstra, Louis Vuitton, and Vodafone. To learn more, visit https://www.tricentis.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.