Thursday, 28 September 2023

SAP S/4HANA is a popular choice, providing opportunities for organisations to improve agility, data intelligence, and overall performance. At its core is the HANA database, an advanced in-memory system designed to improve processing speeds, empower real-time analytics, and simplify the IT environment.

Migrating to S/4HANA involves the crucial task of transferring essential business data to a new database architecture. Given the critical role of SAP data – from financials to HR and supply chain – this migration poses challenges. Risks such as data inconsistencies, bespoke functionality not working failing to support business processes, or system downtimes could impact business continuity.

This highlights the importance of thorough testing and quality assurance (QA). An approach encompassing functional, automation, and performance testing, is essential. A test strategy with these three phases at its core will identify functional and non-functional problems prior to go-live, to provide the confidence needed to promote systems to production for organisations who rely on SAP to run their businesses.

Prolifics has had experience with SAP implementations and, in particular, testing for many years, for major corporations in a range of industries. In recent times, we are increasingly being asked to assist our customers with S/4HANA migrations and testing. Leveraging our team of specialists and advanced enterprise-grade testing tools from our partners, we aim to navigate challenges and deliver unmatched value to organisations embarking on their S/4HANA journey.

Our recommended test phases are summarised below:

  • Functional Testing
  • Test Automation
  • Performance Testing

These three important test phases are dealt with separately below.

Functional Testing

The migration to SAP S/4HANA is more than a backend overhaul; it also comes with innovative frontend changes, in the form of the new web interface, SAP Fiori. Fiori, with its user-centric design principles, transforms the way users interact with SAP, streamlining processes and enhancing user experience across multiple devices and via a large number of user roles, making the whole process of interacting with the application more accessible and user-friendly.

Functional testing, in the realm of SAP S/4HANA migration, pertains to the validation that every module, from procurement to financial reconciliation, operates as intended in the new environment. This involves verifying that transactions are executed correctly, business processes continue to function and support job roles, and interfaces from/to other applications continue to operate as normal. The primary goal of functional testing is to confirm that all migrated features in SAP S/4HANA, including the vital reporting suite, function without anomalies. Given the pivotal role of BI reports in decision-making, it's imperative they are checked for accuracy, as well as that all reports continue to work.

Key Areas of Focus:

  • SAP Fiori: Ensuring the interface is functional and responsive across devices and job roles. This includes testing navigation, data visualization, and any bespoke elements/user-specific configuration.
  • BI Reports: Validating that reports are generated in real-time, are consistent with source data, and offer the correct insights to the end-users. Testing must be rigorous to ensure accuracy, reliability, and consistency.
  • Transactions & Business Process Flows: Verifying that all processes, whether it's order-to-cash or procure-to-pay, are seamless, efficient, and error-free.
  • Interactions with Other Systems: Confirming that SAP S/4HANA integrates and communicates effectively with other platforms and systems, ensuring data transfer without loss or corruption.

Functional testing provides enterprises with the assurance that they will realise the benefits promised by the new platform and that their business processes and bespoke functions still work post-upgrade. These high-level tests also provide the opportunity for test automation to be developed against a regression pack of prioritised checks, often in parallel with the functional test phase, to allow an automated regression pack to be run on demand, further increasing confidence throughout the upgrade but in the future for updates, patches and enhancements.

Automation Testing

As enterprises pivot towards SAP S/4HANA, the complexity of the migration journey necessitates an approach that goes beyond manual testing. Manual methods are too resource-intensive, difficult to repeat and often lack the efficiency, repeatability, and speed required for such large-scale transitions. This is where test automation can help, using a well-suited set of testing tools.

The enterprise test automation tool ‘SAP Enterprise Continuous Testing’ is available at no additional charge for enterprise customers under an SAP support agreement. This offering, known outside the SAP world as Tricentis Tosca, is a modern, next-generation test automation tool, AI-driven and continuously updated to maximise value when implementing SAP or migrating to S4/HANA. What distinguishes Tosca is its model-based approach, which expedites the testing process by eliminating the need for manual scripting. This not only reduces the time to test but also bolsters the accuracy of each test, ensuring that every aspect of SAP S/4HANA is vetted rigorously.

With its exhaustive suite of automated testing capabilities, Tosca addresses the many challenges posed by S4/HANA migrations. Be it verifying the seamless interaction of SAP Fiori with backend processes, or ensuring that BI reports are auto-generated with precision, Tosca ensures comprehensive coverage. Moreover, its adaptability allows it to cater to evolving testing needs, ensuring that as S/4HANA evolves, the testing tools evolve in tandem, using AI features to keep tests aligned with changing interfaces.

For enterprises seeking an optimised, efficient, and reliable SAP S/4HANA migration experience, embracing automation is not just recommended; it is paramount. With tools like SAP ECT (Tosca) the path to automation becomes not only accessible but also promising, ensuring that businesses remain agile, resilient, and ahead in their digital transformation journey, both now and in the future.

Performance Testing

Migrating to SAP S/4HANA signifies not just a change in system architecture but also an expectation of heightened performance. The introduction of new functionality and the HANA database mandates an environment where performance isn't just optimal, but exceptional. However, such expectations also bring forth questions: How does one ensure the system meets the requisite performance benchmarks? How can enterprises ascertain that, even under peak loads, the system remains performant and does not suffer from degradation over time?

The answer lies in robust performance testing—and leading in the SAP domain is the ‘SAP Enterprise Performance Testing’ by Tricentis or EPT, powered by Tricentis NeoLoad.

NeoLoad, a flagship tool within the Tricentis suite, stands out for its ability to simulate real-world conditions, providing a genuine stress test for SAP S/4HANA implementations. From modelling thousands of simultaneous users interacting with SAP Fiori to simulating data-intensive operations, NeoLoad evaluates the system's performance against rigorous benchmarks. By offering real-time analytics, actionable insights, and dynamic feedback, NeoLoad allows teams to pinpoint bottlenecks, optimise configurations, and ensure that the end-user experience remains seamless, irrespective of load.

Furthermore, what sets EPT apart is its tailored design for SAP environments. It understands the intricate dynamics of SAP ecosystems, ensuring tests are not just general performance checks but are calibrated specifically for SAP operations. This specificity ensures that the nuances of S/4HANA, its integrations, and its functionalities are thoroughly vetted for performance.

In the landscape of SAP migrations, performance is not a luxury; it's a necessity. Enterprises need the assurance that their freshly migrated systems will not just work, but excel, even in the most demanding situations. Through tools like NeoLoad, via the EPT offering, organisations can have confidence in their S4/HANA migrations, knowing that their systems are primed for excellence.

Ongoing Testing Support

For established SAP implementations, there is another tool in the Tricentis stable worth a mention that can offer insights into which areas have changed, to that testing can be targeted accordingly. The SAP Change Impact Analysis tool from Tricentis is able to analyse an application and advise on the elements that are to be changed as a result of an upgrade, update or hotfix.

To find out more about the tools highlighted on this page, as well as how Prolifics Testing can help, click here to get in touch.

Jonathan Binks - Head of Delivery
Prolifics Testing UK

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