The appropriate setup of test management in agile ERP software projects is paramount to speed up both the deployment and the quality assurance process. The process of getting this right, however, is challenging. Its challenges relate to the fact that the, by tradition, highly structured test management procedures cannot be embedded well in the agile process that, for example, introduces self-steering teams and continuous change to the ERP solution. The biggest challenges for a test team in an agile environment may be to provide reassurance over the delivered functionalities in the very short period of time a sprint cycle presents with limited knowledge if not managed well.

To be an effective test team you must be enabled to respond rapidly to such changes, and, therefore, must be organized in a flexible yet effective manner that supports the timeliness of feature deployments, whilst maintaining organizational participation. To help you realize these objectives, we have listed common do’s and don’ts in order to effectively set up your test management suite for ERP deployment projects. These do’s and don’ts are captured from real-life experiences we encountered during our projects.

Test Manager Do’s

  1. Establish a culture of testing from day one
    - Organize your stakeholders in such a way that enough information can be provided to the test team so that they can give back reassurance over the delivered functionalities in a short (sprint timeboxed) period of time. 
  2. Make sure the test strategy is as alive as the project deployment strategy itself
    - Do not get lost in rigid test plans and strategies, but make sure the test approach is set up in a way that matches the flexibility and uncharted approach of agile workstreams. 
    - The test strategy must be set up in an agile manner, meaning that it must be a ‘living strategy’ that is able to mirror the change in approach when the project changes. 
    - Maintain alignment between the overall project plan and the test strategy, including parallel milestones across functional domains; the resource requirements; and timing of the different types of tests (unit test, functional test, process test, integration test, et cetera). 
  3. The test manager should act as an agile coach
    - It is too difficult and time consuming to predict exactly what will be delivered during a sprint. It is more important to make sure a testing mindset lives in the teams and organization, and to make sure the prerequisites for a good test are available when they are required. 
    - The test manager adds the most value when working across the different teams and coaches the test function and techniques to other project team members. The formalization of final test scripts must, however, be the end result of this approach. 
  4. Continuously maintain the feedback loop
    - When testers are lacking expertise in the built solution, make sure there are short lines between the sprint team and the test team. Boost creativity from a test perspective (i.e. break the system), so that the feature can gain additional code/potency strengthening the solution.
  5. Use agile development tooling to a full extent and automate what you can
    - Make use of development tooling, so that you can truly embed testing procedures in your agile development tool (e.g. DevOps)
    - Automated regression testing is always a good idea. There are multiple tools in the market now that can speed up your E2E cycle.

Test Manager Don’ts

  1. Do not fall for the functionality trap
    - It may happen that key users write down more or different functionalities in the test scenarios compared to the original development scope. Make sure that the test process is not a vehicle for scope creep or is used as a method to add more features to the solution. Make sure that the feature scope is defined clearly beforehand and do not deviate from it. 
  2. The test team should not perform the final test on quality 
    - Make sure the end user is responsible for performing and signing off the final quality check through a user acceptance test process. This will make sure the end-user formally accepts the solution as it has been built.
    - Making use of a QA process will also bring more credibility and reliability.
  3. Do not behave as if you are on a ‘test island’. Rather take on an active role in sprints. 
    - Do not wait until a sprint planning becomes available to start planning your test cycle. Make sure the test team is present during sprint refinements and sprint plantings to be certain the test team understands the larger objective of the sprint and its potential integrations with prior sprints.
    - Have business involvement and maintain a value focused mindset. 

These do’s and don’ts are aspects that must be managed by a test manager in agile IT projects. Agile Test management is a critical part of implementing a new IT/ERP solution. KPMG has extensive experience in this field. For example we help our clients by filling test manager roles in IT projects, or support in defining an appropriate test strategy. Do not hesitate to reach out to us for more information.

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