One of the major parts of an enterprise software implementation is the testing of the software. Enterprise systems are always configured to a customer’s specific needs. This means the software is often intricate and detailed, with thousands or millions of different configuration options possible.
Software testing, then, is key to the production and implementation of an effective system. Testing is how you make sure the software is doing what it's supposed to do.
So how does this testing get carried out effectively? What separates successful software testing?
Unit testing is an isolated test of a single piece of functionality. Independent from the rest of the system, an individual piece of the software is tested with a small amount of sample data to determine if it works or not. This is generally performed by a consultant as they configure the system.
By testing a small sample of the system, testers get a small window of insight into whether it is working or not, indicating whether additional configuration or testing is needed. This is done to hopefully maximize the efficiency of a project and streamline further testing down the road.
User acceptance testing, or UAT, is then performed once the configurations and unit testing of a particular user flow are complete. This is typically performed by the customer’s end-users, so that the people actually using the system can validate that it works the way they need it to.
UAT is opposite of unit testing in many ways, and generally UAT is rigorously documented. Leading up to UAT, consultants spend hundreds of hours writing Test Cases or Test Scripts — documents written based on a customer’s requirements that describe in words how the system is supposed to function. End users then execute these test cases and document/record when the system doesn’t do what the script says it should.
A failed test script means that something needs to be fixed or updated in the system. The failed test case will have a defect created for it, and that defect is then assigned to a consultant for investigation and mitigation.
Depending on the severity of the issue, the consultant may need to bring in others to help (i.e. developers if it’s a software bug). Once it’s fixed, that test case must be retested by the end-user to pass UAT.
Once all test cases have passed UAT, the new system is then connected to/integrated with the other systems in the customer's infrastructure, and another round of testing occurs to make sure the new system works with the customer’s other systems as expected.
Every company has multiple systems that are all talking to each other (an order management system, a warehouse management system, and so on). The software testing that happens at this step ensures that all outlets are connected and talking to each other correctly.
It is also important to note that some larger projects will actually include a second round of UAT testing after E2E, performing another set of UAT tests with real data from the other systems once they are connected.
In regards to software testing, through years of experience we have identified a few insights that makes testing more successful.
It is often looked at as tedious busywork to actually write test scripts. This task is usually forced upon the most junior member on the consulting team because no one wants to do it. Most people don’t realize how much of a mistake this is. While yes, it can take some time to write and identify test scripts, test cases that are written without knowledge of requirements are useless. Make sure you are testing effectively by writing effective tests beforehand!
It is also important to align the expectations of everyone involved in testing. Project management should start the testing phase by aligning expectations about why we’re doing testing. Get everyone pointed in the same direction on the bigger impact testing has (notably, a smoother go live and more effective software solution overall).
Another thing here is to try to eliminate the friction between testers and consultants. Especially during UAT and E2E, there’s often this toxic dynamic where testers blame consultants for things not working, and then consultants blame testers for not testing properly, and it’s the never-ending cycle of blame. Part of aligning expectations is to get everyone on the same team and to help people understand the goal is to make things work the way they need to.
Finally, use a better, modern test case management system other than excel. There are lots of modern software solutions out there specifically designed to help manage UAT and E2E testing. These systems allow for easier management of test cases/scripts and automate the majority of the reporting process related to testing progress. Most of these systems can eliminate inefficiencies in the entire process. We at PorterLogic use a test case management system specifically for these reasons.
Curious to know more about software testing and making it more efficient or effective? Perhaps you are a company looking to integrate further software into your process, but don’t know where to start? Our software seamlessly integrates your processes that are already working to enhance and make your warehouses more productive spaces.