You may already know the various culprits that can contribute to ERP failure. While software issues can derail a project, the most common culprits are related to the implementation approach.
One example of a common failure point related to an organization’s implementation approach is neglecting ERP user acceptance testing. This overlooked success factor involves the use of real-life testing scenarios to ensure the system is working as expected and is suitable for your end-users.
Today, we’re sharing the top benefits you can expect from using a smart, efficient testing structure in your ERP implementation.
What is ERP User Acceptance Testing?
Any time you implement new enterprise software, there are several stages of testing that should occur. Examples include:
- Unit testing
- Integration testing
- System testing
- User acceptance testing
User acceptance training, or UAT, usually occurs last. As the name implies, it involves the end-users, or clients, who will be using the software in the new environment.
The purpose of UAT isn’t to make sure the system works from a technical perspective. Those aspects should have been covered in prior testing stages. Rather, it’s to ensure that the people who will actually engage with the software on a regular basis find it user-friendly and accessible.
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5 Benefits of UAT
1. Identifies Usability Issues
While configuring your new ERP software, your vendor will be referencing your requirements document. As they refer to this document, they may assume it is the key to creating a seamless system, but real-life users know more precisely which output is required for each application.
For example, users can also speak to the system’s usability and efficiency. In terms of usability, one element to consider is the software’s user interface (UI).
Key questions to ask include:
- Is the UI intuitive and easy to use?
- Does the UI require advanced training to understand?
- Does the UI work on a mobile device?
The interface is the touchpoint where the software and end-users interact, so gathering feedback on its usability is vital.
Ultimately, end-users are going to test the system one way or another. It’s best to go ahead and perform UAT before the software enters the production environment. Otherwise, they’ll test it once it’s live, and your IT team could be faced with a litany of complaints and customization requests.
2. Ensures Alignment With Employee Needs
As you put the final touches on the system, having a list of user priorities is an excellent resource.
While end-users are testing the software, they can more clearly see how it will help them do their job. They can also determine which features should be prioritized and further developed.
With this insight, you can tweak the system as required to ensure it includes all the necessary features and functionality.
3. Promotes ERP System Adoption
When new software feels too high-tech or out-of-reach to your employees, it can be difficult to get them enthusiastic about the change.
Further, when employees have no input into the selection or implementation process, they feel devalued and may become resistant to change.
These sentiments can hinder your organizational change management efforts.
We recommend getting employees involved in the project before go-live. You not only get the opportunity to correct any last-minute issues, but you also give users the chance to provide input which makes them feel valued.
In addition, employees get a chance to familiarize themselves with the software, so they better understand it. This builds their confidence so they’re ready and willing to embrace the transition down the road.
4. Identifies ERP Workflow Issues
As you conduct each testing stage, you’ll focus on the software at a granular level, examining individual workflows to understand what’s working and what needs to be changed. As you do so, you might find issues that could impede the overall functionality of the new ERP system.
Working off the outputs that you know are required, you can test for these scenarios. If something isn’t properly functioning, you’ll adjust it so everything flows the way it should.
5. Facilitates Easier Data Transfer
One of the biggest challenges of an ERP implementation is migrating your old data onto the new platform. If this step isn’t performed early enough, it can cause major setbacks.
With user acceptance testing, you can catch ERP data migration problems before they snowball. Specifically, you may find that users are still running into some of the same roadblocks they experienced with the old system. This is a red flag that some of the data in the new system might be unreliable. Knowing this, you can clean up and adjust old records, and then map the data as it should be.
3 Risks to Mitigate During UAT
1. Project Phase Extensions
It’s common for some project phases to last longer than anticipated. However, when you’re trying to meet a project deadline, you’ll have to take time away from other phases to accommodate the overruns.
In doing so, you risk shortening or even eliminating user acceptance testing. This can lead to project failure in the form of low user adoption, and consequently, low ERP benefits realization.
2. Lack of a Testing Structure
For UAT to be successful, both you and your implementor must be involved. This often means planning and coordinating the efforts of many different people.
To ensure nothing gets missed, it’s important to establish an efficient testing structure. One important aspect of this structure the definition of roles and responsibilities.
For instance, implementers should know up-front that they are required to:
- Communicate what kind of feedback they need from end-users
- Provide support to end-users
- Provide testing documentation
Meanwhile, internal project leaders should know they are responsible for:
- Ensuring all end-users can participate in UAT without compromising their routine tasks
- Actively participating in UAT
- Providing feedback to implementors on areas that need improvement
3. Lack of Internal Resources
Department managers might consider user acceptance testing to be a trivial task. However, if you warn them ahead of time that UAT will take end-users away from their day-to-day jobs, managers will have time to prepare their departments and will be more likely to provide you with adequate resources.
User Acceptance Testing Solidifies ERP Success
You want your new ERP system to be robust and functional. However, you also need it to be accessible and user-friendly. If you want to find the right balance, ERP user acceptance testing is your new best friend.
UAT allows you to peek into the future to see how employees will interact with your new software. Listening to their feedback, you can make the requisite adjustments and set the stage for a successful implementation.