Products, People, Processes: The 3 P’s of SAP Performance Testing
In March 2016, we published a blog article SAP Performance Testing is Part Art Part Science which offered a high-level view of why Performance Testing is important. In this article, our partner OZSoft’s SAP Testing Practice lead (Brian Rafalowski) offers an in-depth explanation of the Philosophy, Products, People, and Processes behind our approach, closely aligned with The 4 P’s of Automation.
Software and Organizations
Advances in the design and building of software have been tremendous over the last twenty years. Software applications continue to evolve at a rapid pace and now bind our professional and personal lives together. This phenomenon has created a relentless pace of innovation and change in the software world. A question worth asking is, “What’s driving this software transformation?” The obvious answer is the need for information, but this isn’t a complete explanation. It’s the velocity and accuracy of the information that makes it useful. Data is useless when it’s not flowing in a timely manner to the appropriate consumers. Any disruption in the timely flow of valuable information, or the delivery of inaccurate information, erodes the return on investment in software applications.
The continuous arrival of new, innovative business software, such as SAP, leads to new projects for an IT organization to manage. These projects are typically outsourced to the usual suspects, the large systems integrators. The implementation and testing are owned by the same party in most cases. Also, less than 10% of SAP customers use automated tools. Software development practices have made quantum leaps. However, software testing continues to be a lagging discipline. Why is this? It’s hard to understand using a manual approach when testing comprises, on average, 40% of an IT project budget.
These are simple concepts. Modern companies have a high reliance on software applications and processes to help deliver profitability for their business. Do non-software-producing companies organize their IT operations around quality assurance? How are IT departments driving quality and who’s leading them? How are the costs of poorly implemented software systems measured and communicated to executives?
OZSoft’s mission is to help SAP customers continually optimize SAP application quality and ensure business continuity while minimizing the associated cost and time. To achieve this mission, OZSoft focuses on delivering the industry's best SAP testing service. By maintaining this focus, we have been able to:
- Automate SAP testing to a degree that far exceeds others
- Save our customers expensive up-front license and back-end maintenance costs
- Increase test coverage to identify many more quality issues
- Model complex, multi-step, multi-user SAP business processes
- Enable continuous SAP testing to ensure business continuity
- Cut the time required for compressed SAP test cycles
- Earn repeat business from 100% of our customers
How OZSoft is Different and Unique
There are plenty of software companies that offer test automation products. There are plenty of integrators and consultants that provide various services for SAP customers. But OZSoft is a truly differentiated company that focuses primarily on SAP services as its business. We have unique technology tailored specifically to SAP. We have highly experienced and focused services professionals who focus on SAP testing.
Our philosophy, products, people, processes, and pricing enable us to be a partner and advocate for your business.
The Lack of a True SAP Software Testing Solution
Many companies offer some form of product or service that can be used for SAP testing, but none has taken a holistic and focused approach to deliver a complete SAP software testing solution that meets the needs of SAP customers and users. The problem boils down to the basic philosophy driving these companies.
Software testing product vendors are product focused. They have generalized products that may or may not offer a shallow layer of SAP-specific technology, and they tend to grab rich up-front licenses for their products and then exit the building as quickly as possible, leaving the customer and/or integrator to try to sort through the mess.
Integrators are people focused. They are interested in having their people working on the project, billing time, and generating revenue. Integrators focus on the front end of the lifecycle - strategy, design, and development. Testing and support are afterthoughts. A budget (in people hours) is set aside for tests, but little is specified in the way of the specific test deliverables to be produced and how these will ensure business continuity. In addition, putting the same entity that developed software in charge of testing it and ensuring its quality is like having the fox guard the henhouse. There is no accountability.
The Need for a Strong Customer Advocate
In contrast, OZSoft is customer focused. We act as a strong advocate for our customers, ensuring that our customers' needs are met - that the customer understands the quality of what they are getting from the integrator (in terms of SAP functionality, performance, scalability, reliability, etc.) - that the business people can be confident of business continuity - that IT operations can be confident they'll be able to manage the software - that support understands any open issues that will affect users - etc.
The Need for a Holistic Approach
We've worked side-by-side with our customers on SAP testing projects and have been responsible for doing everything that is necessary to truly solve the customer's problems. In the course of this work over the last several years, we've developed and improved the set of resources required to deliver a complete solution to our customer's problems. Experienced IT leaders know it takes the right technology, people, and processes to solve business problems. OZSoft delivers all three.
The Need for SAP Specificity
Finally, SAP is complex and unique, but it is a known quantity. It's difficult but possible to create products, define processes and educate people in ways that are specific to SAP, and OZSoft has made the investment to do this. Others take a generalized approach, with products and services that apply equally well to custom Web applications, client/server applications, and other applications, and as a result sub-optimize and do not apply well at all to SAP.
Generic Automated Testing Tools
Software vendors like to develop horizontal, generalized tools that can be used as broadly as possible. They like big markets. This makes sense because they want to be able to get as much revenue leverage as possible from the investment they make in developing software products and bringing them to market.
In the enterprise management market, this can be seen in systems management products, network management products, server provisioning products, and other markets. Automated testing tools are no exception. The vendors of these products have developed generalized tools that can be used to test anything from client/server applications to Web applications to Citrix applications.
SAP Automated Testing Tools
There is not nothing inherently wrong with generalized tools. However, anyone who has worked on a home improvement project knows that having the right tool can make a tremendous difference in the amount of time it takes to complete a project as well as the quality of the end result. You can assemble a playscape in the backyard using a standard Philips head screwdriver by hand. But a drill with a Philips head bit will make a world of difference. You can form a 5-foot piece of wood into trim with a pocketknife - if you really want to do that.
The automated testing tool vendors have built generalized tools. After the fact, some of them have added a very thin layer of technology on top of these tools to address specific applications like SAP. What this yield is a technology that is 99% generic and 1% customized, with the predictable result that it helps a little bit, but not very much with respect to SAP-specific tasks and requirements.
In contrast, IT-Conductor (OZSoft sister company) has developed its SAP automated testing tools and technologies with a laser focus on SAP applications, architecture, business problems, and best practices in close cooperation with a number of leading Fortune 500 companies during the course of major SAP implementations and upgrades. The results are degrees of automation, effectiveness, and capability that cannot be matched by any other vendor.
SAP Performance Monitoring Tools
IT-Conductor combines the testing toolset with its flagship performance monitoring and automation service to streamline the process of the Test, Monitor, and Optimization cycle. Additionally, the same monitors can be deployed to monitor production once the application has passed quality baselines, thus establishing key measurements for service level management.
People and Experience Matter
What are the backgrounds and experiences of the consultants you've used in the past or are considering using now to design and execute the software test plan for your SAP projects - and to ensure that your business can do business without fail? What do they do from one project to the next? Are they SAP software testing experts? Or are they more generalized consultants who work on a variety of different kinds of customer jobs?
SAP Software Testing Experts and Professionals
OZSoft’s people are SAP software testing experts, completely focused on SAP software testing. That is what they do. Our senior SAP software testing consultants have many years of experience specifically in SAP software testing.
Experience matters, and so does attitude. Our whole business and all our people are focused on the quality of your SAP applications and ensuring your business continuity. Our people are dedicated to this. They are interested in it. They are excited by it. And they will enjoy working on your SAP project as an expert partner and extension to your team.
As with most things in life, people matter a lot, and OZSoft can deliver the right people with the right attitude and expertise.
SAP Software Testing Processes And Methodology
The science and art of software testing are not new. A collection of best practices and processes has been developed for this discipline over time. SAP software testing processes and methodology certainly share much in common with these standard software testing techniques.
At the same time, there are many unique and challenging facets to SAP software testing. Given OZSoft’s extensive experience in this area, we have developed a significant body of SAP software testing processes and techniques over time, and a proven methodology we follow. These best practices enable OZSoft to deliver very cost-effective results, but more importantly ensure that we identify and effectively test the greatest risk factors that tend to plague SAP implementations when they are deployed into production.