When it comes to a complex and far reaching deployment of an ERP system, the testing phase is one of the most vital stages of the whole project. It is the point at which you can ensure that the system is meeting the needs of your business and is able to stand up to any scenario you can throw at it. Having your end users act as subjects in this testing process is not only useful (they are a ready-made resource) but also a great way to take everyone on the journey and familiarise them with the new system at the same time.
You should however proceed with caution – letting your end users loose on your brand new, still in test environment ERP system can present a number of pitfalls that could add more time and spend to your project. With that in mind, here is a guide to how to approach ERP end-user testing.
Take them on the journey
As we have mentioned previously, nothing is more vital to getting your end users onboard with your project than communication and involvement. This should start by actually telling them the project is happening, making them aware of the timescales and that they will be asked to complete some testing at some point. If you keep them updated on the progress, when time comes for testing they will be ready and willing to help out. If you keep them out of the loop and spring the project on them at the last minute, they are likely to be wrong-footed and approach the process with a negative mindset. People do not like change and they particularly do not like to see the things that they use everyday change . Making sure everyone is aware of what you are trying to achieve with the ERP implementation project reduces the risk of blockers appearing in the testing process.
Give them a structure
The last thing you want to do is let end-users loose on the new system without some idea of what kind of feedback you are looking for. If you simply set them up with a login and say something along the lines of “just have a play”, you either will not get any feedback, or you will get the aforementioned blockers who focus on absolutely every minuscule detail, things they do not like, things that are different from the previous system, things they think you should change. This is not productive and it is not why you are doing testing. To keep the process tight and everyone on track, give them scenarios to run through in order to test the flow within the system as well as the functionality. Depending on the size and nature of your business, you could give a number of different scenarios to different departments or groups of end-users. Set a strict date for testing completion and subsequent feedback, and schedule follow-up sessions if necessary.
Invite feedback separately
While general feedback on the system is often not particularly useful during the testing process, as mentioned above, it is important and useful to get this from your end-users at some point, ideally as a follow-up to roll-out. Give your users the chance to use the system in its live environment for their day-to-day tasks, ask them to record any ideas or change requests during the initial period of deployment, say two to four weeks. You can then invite this group to a follow-up session to give their feedback. Realistically, you will not be able to accommodate everyone’s suggestions, but giving them this opportunity will ensure they feel involved and engaged in the process, making them more accommodating and receptive to the change.
Managing the testing process in an ERP implementation project can be tricky, but if you get everyone on-board early, make it clear what you need from them and make sure a logical process and timeline is followed, you will be able to get the feedback you need to move forward.
Need further assistance managing your ERP implementation project from plan to testing to deployment? Get in touch to discuss your project with one of our experienced consultants.