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Accelerating SAP S/4HANA Adoption with Intelligent Test Automation
By Shoeb Javed, CTO, Worksoft Inc.
SAP designed S/4HANA to simplify the way global companies do business. But the road to simple can be slow going, because HANA projects can often bring substantial change to your enterprise landscape. In fact, up to 80percent of the journey can be consumed by testing alone. That’s why leading SAP companies are taking the fast lane with intelligent automation. We’ll explain how here.
"Automated business process testing allows you to uncover and resolve data transfer problems and system issues before production outages occur and business users are affected"
The Promise of S/4HANA.
SAP talks about a number of advances encapsulated in S/4HANA. First, the new in-memory database technology is claimed to be dramatically faster with a smaller footprint. HANA has a simplified data model for real time business process information, which reduces or eliminates the need for manual data consolidations in reporting. There’s also a new, enhanced, role-oriented user experience via SAP Fiori and better support for mobile, desktop and tablet devices. Finally, there are more flexible deployment options including on-premise, hybrid, and cloud with multi-tenancy options.
Automation Accelerates Projects.
The good news is that automation technology can be applied to accelerate every S/4HANA project—and for that reason alone, automation is worth a look. Companies have found that they can shorten S/4HANA project timelines by forty percent or more with high speed business process testing. Further, once that automation is in place it can be run every day for every business process to ensure flawless execution on a 24/7 basis. That matters because HANA is still a relatively new technology from SAP, so automation can help firms keep pace with frequent HANA updates and releases. Essentially, you can run the same automation scenarios for every update to make sure every process still works as needed. So what does an automation path look like?
Making the Move to S/4HANABefore:
Before you begin your HANA implementation, you might undergo several upgrade projects to get to the versions that support SAP HANA. Upgrading requires affected business processes to be identified, documented, and tested through several iterations of the project.
Using automation to document and validate your business processes can cut upgrade project time and costs by half compared to manual approaches. The beauty is that with automation, business processes are captured once and the resulting automated tests are reusable across all subsequent implementation and maintenance projects, multiplying the benefits several-fold.
During: Accelerate Implementation. For existing SAP customers, as much as 80 percent of the work in SAP HANA projects involves testing, because it requires changes mostly to the underlying database. Also, it will change the way some business functions are performed(in the new Fiori-based user interfaces, for example.). This means that test automation can yield even greater benefits for SAP HANA projects relative to other SAP projects.
Automated business process testing allows you to uncover and resolve data transfer problems and system issues before production outages occur and business users are affected. It ensures all changes are reflected correctly between systems, and helps you validate BI data versus source data in your ERP system. Automation also allows you to verify that reports are functioning and accurate—every time.
After: Drive Ongoing Business Agility. As a relatively new technology, SAP frequently releases updates for S/4HANA.Every time an update appears, each business process and data flow needs to be tested. Having an automation suite in place means that testing and retesting are easy and relatively inexpensive. With simple modifications, you can reuse your automation library to support ongoing updates and future projects.
You'll need to set up ongoing data transfers from your existing database to SAP HANA and ensure that all transferred business processes and reports function correctly. Regularly testing business processes across all required systems and interfaces is critical to ensure you're getting what you want from your SAPHANA investment—and getting the most from your efforts to leverage big data.
What about Performance?
Sure, every business process needs to be functionally correct on S/4HANA. But what about speed and performance? When adopting a new system, the user experience has to be superior to what came before—otherwise your IT team could face resistance from staff and slow adoption. Not to mention grumbling.
A Real Performance Example. As one global company moved to SAPHANA, the new software had to work right, and it had to work fast enough to deliver on the promise of big data with a high quality user experience. Business functions could not be disrupted because of poor performance as they moved to the new platform.
In addition to BI (business intelligence) functions, the company decided to implement HANA for their production planning and scheduling processes, which are critically important to the business. These processes control movement of inventory, by-products and waste between plants in their business. In all, there are thousands of inventory transfers per day between facilities, and hundreds of thousands annually.
Validating the Speed of HANA. At the start, the company experienced significant performance issues with their HANA implementation, so they turned to automated performance and load testing for help. In an effort to get a version of HANA that met performance requirements, they worked to test nearly 100 different software and environment set ups, where each automated run was from two to six hours in duration. That’s a lot of performance testing and hundreds of thousands of transactions!
The company was able to run the performance test processes at night and on the weekends as needed to help validate each scenario and version of SAPHANA quickly. The bottom line is that it worked. Today, SAP HANA is delivering on its promise for this industry leading firm.
The Bottom Line. If you’re an SAP customer, you’re probably looking at S4/HANA for the future, or are in the middle of HANA deployment today. Regardless of your current project phase, remember that intelligent automation can accelerate the project and reduce maintenance effort with functional testing and automated business process validation to make sure everything works correctly. And don’t forget that automated performance and load testing will help to ensure every one of your users has a high-quality, flawless user experience with S4/HANA. There’s no need to leave anything to chance. Fast track your new business transformation programs and improve quality assurance with automation!