Over the years, McKesson has developed a complex IT infrastructure to support its entire pharmaceutical business, from customer onboarding to supply chain management.

The environment consists of several critical SAP applications, including ECC, SCM, BW, CRM and SRM, as well as a Middleware foundation that utilises IBM WebSphere and WebSphere MQ. The company is dependent on these integrated systems for the performance and profitability of its business.

Business Problem

To meet its customer needs as well as internal system requirements, McKesson makes regular changes to this environment. These changes, known as service objectives, are applied to core business processes and allow McKesson to deliver personalised service to each of its customers. Varying in magnitude and complexity, typical service objectives fall within four process areas: order to cash, procure to pay, financial and non-SAP process areas. For example, as a new customer is onboarded, changes are made to the order to cash process to support that particular customer’s needs.

As the service objectives move through development and quality assurance phases, McKesson will group them together into a single release, usually amounting to about 40 changes every 3 months. McKesson found that with so many changes being applied on a regular basis, these service objectives introduced risks to the availability and performance of critical business processes and therefore needed to go through thorough regression testing.

While testing these changes prior to release ensured system reliability, the McKesson team was spending much of their time testing.

To maintain efficient time to market, while reducing total cost of ownership, McKesson was in need of a sound and optimised test strategy that would enable the company to adapt quickly in dealing with service objectives, ensuring that the changes are thoroughly tested and rolled out within a reasonable timeframe.

Solution

McKesson engaged our test and test automation experts to assist with their overall QA strategy. The companies established a flexible, adaptable and cost-effective delivery model that utilises delivery resources, both onshore and offshore, and has resulted in over £635,000 in cost savings.

We established a structured process and governance model for the distributed team and build out a regression test library consisting of over 1,700 test cases.

As part of the overall strategy, we also identified patterns and processes ideal for automation that would maximise efficiency during each release. Automating close to 40 business processes, McKesson saw reduced test time and costs, as well as gaining increased test coverage and volume for their business systems. For example, automation was able to take a test case that previously took 2 hours of manual test efforts down to 30 minutes.

However, as part of their test automation strategy, McKesson faced three types of challenges that were critical to address. The company had hundreds of data attributes and complex data mappings that needed to be validated across applications and modules. In addition, invalid test data often led to the failures of a significant number of automated scripts. Lastly, McKesson was in need of a single tool that addressed all aspects of their test automation strategy.

To address these challenges, we decided to leverage a powerful tooling strategy that includes Micro Focus Quality Center and QuickTest Professional together with our test automation Accelerator, Effecta.

Validating the data

Data validation proved to be a critical piece in McKesson’s test automation strategy. With Effecta, the company is able to increase the quality of their systems by validating their sales order data against the original, accurate data. By mapping the sales order against the original data, we were able to verify the accuracy of the end result and identify any failures.

The automated data validation feature has helped McKesson to test a higher volume of about 100,000 sales orders per day. Effecta also provides the built-in capability to perform SAP IDoc, XML, Flat File and Table comparisons. As changes are made to the system, Effecta indicates the areas that have been impacted so that they can be addressed.

Script maintenance

We also increased the re-use of test scripts using Effecta. The team found that, on average, McKesson spent 4 hours building an automated script. Maintaining these scripts was a challenge because as changes were made, each script had to be modified individually. With Effecta, scripts are automatically captured and automated after they have been recorded by QuickTest Professional.

Now, McKesson can make a single change and propagate it across all scripts. This has helped to drastically simplify the process and reduce the total cost of ownership by approximately 30%.

Effecta also provides powerful test data management to ensure that all scripts and test cases are mapped to the appropriate data, cutting out the manual effort involved in carrying out these steps.

Our overall test automation services have brought in £1.7 million in cost savings for McKesson.

Results

Test automation has been critical to McKesson’s ability to ensure that service objectives undergo proper testing and are released within a reasonable timeframe. In addition, our services have helped McKesson meet FDA and SOX compliance by providing documentation to capture IT testing results.

As a result of the strong partnership with McKesson, Prolifics was able to meet and exceed quality assurance SLAs, achieving a 97% defect removal efficiency (DRE) with £1.6 million savings of defect detection.

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