Test Automation. What’s it all about?

by Barry Burke

There is an old software engineering mantra. Test, Test, Test.

The trouble is, as software programmes have become more complex, with multiple dependencies apparent throughout the code, testing has become time consuming. Research reveals that, for the ERP community, testing can account for up to 70% of the time and effort spent on any significant change project. For example, an upgrade, the application of an ESU or a code-current event.

More than just a necessary evil, testing is a core component of business continuity – especially when it comes to ERP Software.

Test automation tools originally evolved from a need to drive efficiencies and reduce costs. These same pressures are as relevant today as they have ever been, with IT departments constantly challenged with delivering more for less.

The pace at which modern ERP solutions are evolving leaves many organisations in a catch 22 situation. If they lag too far behind the latest software release, they will fail to take advantage of new features and benefits. If they opt to carry out an upgrade or ESU, there is a potential for disruption to the business. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Of course, the upgrade is the path of least resistance in the long run, as the further you fall behind the current code base, the less efficient you will become and the bigger the impact will be when you finally apply the upgrade.

The desire to stay code-current, combined with a business imperative to minimise disruption, are two of the reasons why organisations are increasingly turning to test automation to ease the burden of testing during change event projects.

Formal testing procedures typically feature significant volumes of repetitive tests, where one small parameter is changed and the same workflow is tested, over and over. This is where test automation can add significant value. Firstly, it can run the repetitive tasks faster than a manual process. Secondly, it doesn’t get bored doing it, so the risk of human error is removed.

The automation of test activities provides most value where test scripts are repeated or where components of test scripts are used repeatedly by many different test scripts. The more frequently these test scripts need to be run, the greater the value of automation. Not only does this result in a rapid return on investment for the organisation, but also a step change in testing accuracy.

The value of test automation is not limited to simple, repetitive tasks. It also provides valuable support when it come to the execution of complex test scenarios that are difficult to replicate manually.

In a JD Edwards ERP context, automated testing can help to alleviate bottlenecks and compress timelines for the following types of testing: Functional requirements testing, server performance testing, user interface testing, unit testing, integration testing, system load performance testing, boundary testing, security testing, Disaster Recovery/Continuity testing and many others besides.

We believe that JD Edwards customers should embrace the idea of digitising their manual test scripts. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be aiming to answer some important questions when considering test automation for JD Edwards EntepriseOne. Starting with how to objectively assess if test automation is right for you.

For details on the test planning and automation products available from DWS CLICK HERE

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