08/05/2008 by Peter Helfenstein
In many blogs, we have discussed the deficiencies in SAP testing. Changes to an existing system are the order of the day. Again and again, errors are corrected, customizing and programs must be adapted, new functions are rolled out. Also, technical changes as hot fixes and service packs must be installed, as well as upgrades. In view of the large number of changes, problems with testing is not want you really want. But most SAP customers have come to terms with it, solving retroactively the problems involved with rolling out badly or incompletely tested changes – amidst the applause of the business. This is quite an effort, but still considered a more sensible approach than testing the whole software system.
Everyone will agree that this is not the approach we want. Fortunately, specialized consulting companies such as FocusFrame as well as manufacturers of testing software such as HP, Panaya, IntelliCorp, IBIS and above all SAP have taken this to heart. However, we are still far from a real end-to-end (E2E) testing or quality process starting right from the business requirements level, but at least you can start a continuous E2E testing process covering all changes as soon as the transport of a SAP change request is due. And this is already a great benefit.
What Does This Mean in Detail?
- The first step is to analyze which SAP transactions and programs are affected by the change, on the basis of the changes due for transport and of the system or a model of it. This step is mostly referred to as Change Impact Testing. This task is supported by specialized products like HP Change Impact Testing (CIT) for SAP, SAP Test Automation and Optimization (SAP TAO) as well as IntelliCorp LiveCompare. An exciting alternative is Panaya Inc.´s pure SaaS solution. Using this service, the SAP user does not even have to install any software.
- Once the involved transactions are known, it must be found out which testing scenarios are necessary. For this step, too, there is reasonable technical support now. As a result, the testing scenarios are identified and together with the underlying test script made available to the test management tool. This is accomplished by using SAP Test Automization and Optimization in combination with SAP Quality Center by HP.
- In spite of above system support and test szenario reduction, the testing scenarios should – due to their large number – pass another filter. This step is widely referred to as Risk Based Testing. The point here is to reduce the number of tests to be executed to the really relevant ones. This step is supported by SAP TAO and, particularly, by SAP Quality Center by HP.
- Then, the test management tool executes the filtered tests automatically. The results are evaluated and, if necessary, the defect management process is started and monitored. This task is assumed by SAP Quality Center by HP in combination with HP Quick Test Pro.
From Transport Packet-to-End-Testing up to real E2E Testing
All this sounds quite simple and logical. In practice, however, it is quite a challenge to set up and operate such an environment. As a methodologist, however, you will consider this „reactive“ approach still suboptimal as the above „E2E“ quality process, instead of starting from the beginning, meaning the requirements management, is initiated not before the changes have been executed and ready for transport. Information about the effects of changes is known to be useful on starting the projects from the project portfolio management, supporting the business analyst as well as the developers and the test team. SAP has become aware of this and is working on a solution using the new Business Process Change Analyzer (SAP BPCA) to enable real E2E quality management.
Implementing SAP E2E testing correctly will change the poor SAP E2E quality mangement into a model for other commercial software solutions addressing quality management. The benefit of a consistent, comprehensive testing for SAP landscapes can hardly be overestimated. The reduced number of system breakdowns after the weekly roll-out of changes justifies the investment in this area – as every head of a SAP Competence Center will readily confirm. The somewhat less spectacular quality improvement along with the cost and risk reduction reached in the medium term, will provide a considerable profit by introducing a SAP E2E testing project in the context of an application lifecycle management initiative.