Keys to a successful ERP or technology transformation

17 October 2022 5 min. read
More news on

With the pace of digital change accelerating, companies of all sizes are turning to technology to navigate a successful future. But with digital transformation notorious for its challenges and pitfalls, many leaders are seeking guidance.

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, businesses in virtually every sector have gone through digitization of their companies and started transformations they put off for so long. The result: a wave of digital transformation programs and initiatives.

However, practice shows that many businesses do not have the adequate knowledge and tools to tackle digital transformation, and missteps along the way can lead to costly missteps.Oscar Perez and Arthur Mansourian - NMS ConsultingWith decades of experience under their belts, Oscar Perez and Arthur Mansourian have witnessed firsthand many successes – and failures – in the digital transformation realm. The pair of NMS Consulting professionals outline below some of the key elements to a successful tech implementation, from testing through to proper utilization.

Production Simulation Testing

An effective tool to ensure the successful implementation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) or any other mission critical information technology project is Production Simulation Testing (PST). Business owners should view PST as an insurance policy for their information technology projects.

PST is a sub-phase of testing, with the overall goal being to demonstrate that the system is ready to support production operations. The approach is to further validate a system and ensure its viability through system integration testing.

Furthermore, it is important that businesses conduct the PST in parallel with the regular testing cycles, but it should lag to give the development team time to build the solution and allow for fixing bugs. The PST should be done well before the user acceptance testing, as all defects should be solved before then.

Other important control mechanisms should be in in place before a business starts a PST program, including:

  • Entry and exit criteria for each testing cycle
  • Acceptance criteria for the production testing
  • A detailed and integrated test plan with test benchmarks
  • Clear defect management process with the severity of test defects identified
  • Monitoring and reporting of defects
  • A management reporting dashboard with concise key performance indicators (KPIs)

The acceptance criteria should not be established by the implementation vendor, as this can create conflicts of interest. This conflict risks the credibility of test results and operational readiness of the system to go live. The conflict exists because the vendor built the system, tested it, and proposed the criteria for the client to accept the system’s production readiness.

Clients’ agencies should develop acceptance criteria in consultation with business process users and/or independent third parties.

Clear test benchmarks

Clear benchmarks help a business measure test results. An integrated test plan with easily accessible documentation on the benchmarks, should be used to assess the various types of tests conducted and show what tests were successful. This will allow management to assess whether the new system is fully ready to support production operations. The plan should contain details about the specific tests included under each test type and the benchmarks for success.

Oversight of the severity classification of test defects

Clients should review the categorized log of defects found in the Production Simulation Testing process by the development team, verifying that all errors have been remediated or formally mitigated and accepted. All defects need to be identified, logged and their severity classified (e.g., low, medium, high, or critical) during testing.

All tests need to be repeated until all critical, high, and medium errors have been resolved. You also need an audit trail of test results. The results of testing need to be communicated to stakeholders in accordance with the test plan to facilitate bug fixing and further quality enhancement.

Other key points business leaders need to be aware of are:

  • Clients need to develop documentation that clearly identifies the benchmarks for tests conducted during the PST phase.
  • Clients need to evaluate final PST results against benchmarks.
  • Clients need to revisit the current acceptance criteria for the PST phase and receive formal approval by a steering committee.
  • Clients need to assess final PST results against the approved PST acceptance criteria.
  • As part of the production simulation testing deliverable review, clients need to conduct a review of all open test defects and their assigned severities before the PST is accepted.

Independent and PMO assessments

Clients should engage a third party to conduct the PST. During the PST phases, the third-party independent verification and validation (IV&V) PST services vendor needs to create their own test result reports and conduct its own test case analysis.

During this review, an assessment is made by the quality assurance staff to determine the status (i.e., Green, Yellow, Red) of the following eight project indicators: Overall, Project Funding, Phase Cost, Project Scope, Phase Milestones, Project Staff Utilization, Project Issue and Risk Management, and Project Status Reporting.

For a project to receive an overall rating of “Green”, no more than one of the following three indicators must be “Yellow”: Phase Milestones, Phase Cost, or Project Scope.