Implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can be a complex task. Statistics suggest that around half of all ERP projects fail. One of the main reasons for this is not the software as much as the ERP implementation process. This is where a smart testing structure can add great value.
Applying efficient UAT procedures before launching your ERP project can result in far greater success rates. This allows you to provide real-life testing to a project to make sure that it is suitable for the end-user.
In this article we will take a deeper look into the application of UAT in ERP projects, and why this step can prove to be so important.
What is UAT?
User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is the final stage of software testing after Unit, Integration, and System testing. This type of testing is conducted by the end-user or client to make sure that the software is suitable for the environment that it has been developed for.
While software developers can create advanced applications, ultimately, they are not the end-user. This is why UAT needs to be done by the client, or the person who will be utilising the software, to experience it from a user perspective. When it comes to ERP projects, this step is crucial, as the software can be incredibly user-specific.
Benefits of Implementing UAT in ERP Projects
Before implementing an ERP project, proper user acceptance testing is crucial. Here are some of the major advantages of implementing UAT in ERP projects.
Get the Users Involved Through Testing
Software end-users will understand exactly what the required output is for an application. On the other hand, developers will code based on their interpretation of the requirements document. This can result in discrepancies between the drafted requirements and vision for the end product.
Getting the client or end-users involved in testing the software means that flaws will be picked up on before the application is deployed into the production environment. It is important to remember that this step will occur eventually (real end-users utilizing the software), so it is best to run controlled testing instead of handling complaints from the live software.
This kind of real-life testing will help to find problems in the process and usability of the software. This is not based on how well the ERP project may work, but more on how efficient and friendly it is to use in reality.
Promotes Adoption of the Software
One of the major issues with ERP projects is a lack of adoption of the software. This is why it is so important to get the users involved before the application goes live. Not only will UAT help to smooth out any potential issues with the ERP software, but it will also help with an easier transition into utilising the program by allowing users to grasp the ERP product.
ERP software can be specifically designed towards different aspects of various operations. By getting users involved, it can help them to fine-tune the software to their needs to promote better engagement and adoption.
Helps Define the Software Goals
One issue that many companies see with new ERP implementations is that they expect the software to offer a wide range of solutions instead of focusing on specific areas. It is so important that users understand the goals set out for ERP projects to achieve.
Having end-users test the software will help them to understand how the ERP can focus on their goals. This can help developers to fine-tune the software to meet these requirements. User testing will allow you to find a list of priorities and a clear guide on where to focus on for the final developments.
Helps to Find the Right Project Team
A successful ERP project needs the right team. This can be a common pitfall in using this kind of software, as inefficient management can lead to the downfall of the ERP. Getting users involved in the testing phase will promote a better understanding of the software, as well as what is needed to operate it effectively.
UAT will allow users and developers to gain a better understanding of what kind of management team is needed, and how the software can be improved to work with this. A carefully considered program will work easily with the team that is using it.
Finds Meaningful Business Process Improvements
If you launch your software and wait for user feedback, you could land up receiving avoidable complaints. Conducting well-scripted tests will allow you to focus on individual elements of the software to find issues. The goal of this is to improve the overall process and functionality of the ERP.
Understanding the kind of outputs that you require, and testing for these specific scenarios is key. This allows your ERP software to become more efficient, user-friendly, and goal-oriented.
Find Communication Flaws
In the same way that ERP projects require an effective team, they also rely heavily on clear communication. This line of communication will come from the software vendor, management team, project team, and employees. Poor communication is often a large hurdle that can affect ERP projects.
This is an area that can be helped through efficient UAT practices. Testing the software as a user will allow a better understanding of the kind of communication chain that will be needed for optimal success. This can then be structured and developed before the software is launched. This way, the team using the program and the developers will be ready, allowing for smoother operation from the outset.
Assisting Data Transfer
A massive obstacle that ERP projects face is migrating old data into a new system. This is a task that can greatly slow operations down if the coherency between old and new is not properly accounted for. Performing UAT allows developers to figure out the best way to create a smooth transition in this area.
If data in the old system was inefficient, then this will still follow through into the new system. In this case, UAT will allow the client to properly map out the data and clean up the old records. This will allow for a more efficient data process going forward.
Builds User Confidence
When a new ERP system is introduced, many employees are nervous about the new change in operations. These fears can lead to poor use of the software, which will yield inefficient results. User acceptance testing that is done by ERP developers will help to build confidence in the program. This end-user testing strategy can show employees the value of the new application, and help to find the kind of benefits that it could bring.
It is easy for developers to point out the areas where ERP software can be useful. However, it is only through practical use by actual users that these kinds of results can be tracked and understood.
Makes the System Easier to Use
Taking notes of where the ERP can be improved doesn’t only make it more efficient; it also creates a simpler version of the software. Proper testing structures allow you to track user engagement, and find areas that slow productivity down. Developers can then simplify these issues to create a more user-friendly version of the program.
This adds to the idea of building user confidence through building software that is tested to be easier to use. Employees will find greater confidence in changing to and engaging with this kind of a system.
Implementing Project-Based ERPs with UAT
Project-based ERPs are systems that add more focus towards people. When compared to ERPs that place more emphasis on goods manufacturing, project-based versions add extra focus towards services.
To efficiently integrate the different processes in the project, and focus on people, UAT can be particularly useful. This will allow real users to gain insight into the system, how it works with their operations, and how it can benefit them as individuals. If your ERP takes more of a project-based approach, then UAT is crucial for finding efficient and effective results throughout development.
This kind of ERP is prominent in the following fields:
- Human resource management
- Project-based accounting
- Project management
- Supply chain management
- Customer relationship management
Final Thoughts of Using UAT in ERP Projects
When shifting ERP software or planning on introducing a new project to operations, it is critical to understand end-user engagement properly. This is where user acceptance testing comes in as a necessary step.
As a process it adds great value to any software development project, and ERP projects that focus on people will notably benefit from this approach. Getting input from the user it is designed to serve will help to identify any inefficiencies or flaws, and prevent these from negatively affecting business operations.
To summarize, making sure that the end-user has already tried and tested the software before it is deployed into production environment is key. This can save a great deal of time and energy and will result in a far more rewarding change.
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