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Building a Business Case for Test Automation

by Barry Burke

Are you part of an IT department or test team interested in implementing test automation for JD Edwards EnterpriseOne or Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications, but don’t know where to start? Is there a reluctance to commit budget and resources to functional testing due to a lack of quantified benefits?

For any update project, testing should account for a significant part of the overall project effort, but it can be time consuming, costly and resource intensive to plan, build, execute, evaluate, and document each test. If you’re regularly installing updates for Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications, it can be tempting to skip proper functional testing, but don’t underestimate the risk to your downstream systems and applications.

Knowing the advantages of a solution and being able to translate them into a compelling business case are two different things. You may be aware of the ways that test automation can improve the process of testing; but how do you convince your business to make this investment? To assist you in this process we’ve identified five key components that help build the case:

  • Define the business problem and demonstrate value
  • Outline the objectives for the test automation software
  • Assess the potential risks
  • Define the implementation approach for on-boarding the new software
  • Outline the Planning & ROI

Define and Demonstrate

Your needs analysis is an important part of the business case. If the problem that needs to be addressed is not easily identifiable, and quantifiable in terms of its impact on the business, you run the risk of hitting the “I don’t see the problem” barrier.

The business case for test automation is clear: it can help improve all areas of testing, from script development to test execution, results analysis to defect monitoring. Improved agility and competitiveness will help drive innovation in the organization and manage reputation. Testing smarter, using scanning technology, enables automation of the generation of test scripts for all test scenarios. Benefits include:

  • Save up to 60% of time spent on test execution
  • Save up to 70% of time spent creating and maintaining test scripts
  • Quickly building your own catalogue of test scripts and scenarios.

A business case benefit statement could read something like “Our analysts spend an average of xx hours/days per month on repetitive manual testing; 60% of that time could be saved if test automation were introduced.”

Outline the Objectives

State clearly what the implementation of the test automation solution should achieve for the company. Whilst some objectives may be difficult to accurately quantify at the outset, others should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely (SMART). This hard data will verify the value of the software and will help to justify the investment, in business terms, to the senior management.

For example: “Improve staff morale by automating repetitive tests” or “accelerate the time to deliver change events or updates” may not be as compelling as: “Automate 70% of testing within the finance module by the end of the year”, or “reduce time spent annually with systems auditors by 38%”.

Where possible, add detail to elaborate on a given objective and the rationale behind it. For example:

“Currently, testing for one module takes two weeks to run. Automating testing would take one day to run and two days to analyse the results. This would reduce our testing resources by seven days (70%). As full testing of this module is required four times a year, this equates to 35 days of testing saved per year on just this one module. Pushing this out to multiple modules will provide the company with savings of over 200 testing days per year.”

Risk Assessment

Your business case cannot just focus on the positives. Any IT investment project involves a degree of risk, so your assessment should include due diligence. Common types of risk to consider include:

  • Operational: This group includes two main risks; user adoption and reliability. Both can be mitigated by implementing a reliable solution that is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Also, do not forget to include in your business case a note about staff training necessary for faster user adoption.
  • Technological: A general set of IT risks and warnings include concerns over support, functionality, compatibility and compliance. You can mitigate these risks with a system that is fully featured, configurable and adaptable to changing business demands.
  • Financial: As the cost of a solution increases, so does the risk. Consider set-up and maintenance costs, along with any add-ons, mods or extensions that might be required. Financial risk can be mitigated by choosing a solution that is available on a SaaS basis, eliminating the up-front capital expenditure.

 Implementation Plan

Your business case should assume you secure the project and include a detailed implementation plan. The presence of a critical path and resource allocation will help provide assurances that the project has been thoroughly thought through.

Stakeholders will want to know how long the project will take and what skills and knowledge will be required for a successful implementation. They will also want to see clear milestones and a process for error correction if required.

Cost Breakdown and ROI

No business case would be complete without a financial breakdown and an analysis of ROI. Alongside any capital or operational expenditure, you should highlight the financial savings expected from project.

It goes without saying that this is an important part of the business case as it will determine if the project is financially viable. Calculating ROI can be a complex process, but is essentially the annual benefit realized, divided by the total investment, expressed as a ratio or percentage.

The project will need to be fully costed and include sources of funding, cash flow and an illustration of returns over the short, medium and long-term.

DWS has experience of supporting customers throughout the scoping, evaluation and budgeting phases of a wide range of projects. If you need help with developing your own business case, contact us at sam@dws-global.com