It’s easy to be full of enthusiasm at the start of a NAV ERP project when you are coming up with good ideas and workshopping the features that you want in your new system and the benefits that you want it to deliver. It’s not so easy to garner the same level of enthusiasm when the time comes to test your new system, and yet good testing can save you a world of pain in the period after the system goes live.

One of the most successful systems I was involved in owed its success to the dedication of the company personnel for whom we were creating the system. We took an unusual approach, agreeing that after the definition of the requirements, during the design stage, as each component of the system was designed and documented the customer’s team would produce test cases for that component. A test case describes the testing that will be done to ensure that a part of the system works as the customer expects.

One of the major reasons this approach was so successful is that the creation of the test cases early in the project highlights any flaws or omissions in the requirements or design; flaws that otherwise would not be discovered until the system is about to, or has, gone live. Producing the test cases early also avoids what we call the “but surely” moments at go-live: “But surely the system should do…?” Without rigorous checking of the requirements and design, features can be assumed to be included when in fact they have never been defined. In addition, when the time for testing arrives the task is no longer arduous, as the test cases are prepared and ready to go, and it is quite clear how the system is meant to perform.

There is no reason why this approach cannot be applied to ERP projects. There are challenges, of course. Invariably the customer’s project team members are overworked, being expected to do their normal job as well as being involved in the system project. But the investment of some extra time at the start of the project will ensure that their workload does not become overwhelming during system testing and go-live.

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Written By Peter R Hill

Peter has been in the Information Services industry for more than forty years with broad experience covering a number of industries working in both Australia and New Zealand. He holds an MBA from LaTrobe University. For seventeen years Peter headed and was a director of the International Software Benchmarking Standards Group (ISBSG) a not-for-profit organisation with a mission of improving the performance of IT through the provision of project history data. He has served on a number of Boards of IT companies. In 2010 Peter became an non-executive director of Fenwick Software. Peter has been a speaker at conferences in Australia, Asia, Europe, Brazil and the USA.   He has had a number of articles published, covering key aspects of the Information Services industry.  He is a past Chairman, Secretary and Fellow of the Australian Computer Society. He is a member of the Committee of Management of Writers Victoria. Peter has compiled and edited five books, including: "Practical Software Project Estimation"  published by McGraw-Hill. In his leisure time, Peter enjoys motor sport and writing.

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