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ERP Implementation Tip #19: System Test #3 | Integrated Pilot Simulation

ERP Implementation #19: System Test #3 | Integrated Pilot Simulation

The Integrated Pilot phase is the last line of defense – any system set-up errors that go undetected through this phase will remain undiscovered until the system is live.  The consequences of undetected system errors are huge.  For example, in 2008, ERP implementation mistakes led to overstate its revenues by$12.9 million over a five-and-a-half year period.  In that case, the implementation team failed to properly integrate certain processes relating to customer refunds, payments processing and accounting.  As a result of the missed tie-ins, customer refund transactions failed to trigger corresponding accounts receivable accounting.  As another example, in 2008, ERP implementation problems at Levi Strauss froze its operations and prevented it from shipping product for one week.  This failure contributed to a quarter-over-quarter net income decline of 98%.  Proper, integrated testing may have put both of these companies in a position to catch the mistakes before organizational performance and shareholder value were fed to the wolves.

Alright.  Enough of the horror stories.  Let’s get back to our implementation project.  Until this point, system testing had been focused on the validity of each functional area’s business processes and related system set-up.  Now, the testing is focused on the validity of the tie-ins.  In other words, the purpose of the Integrated Pilot phase is to test whether the system is capable of handing off a transaction from one functional area to another.

The key to effective integrated testing – and the secret to catching tie-in errors – is to create a realistic day-in-the-life test environment.  In terms of test time, we generally budget 14 days.  In terms of test bed data, we insist that the teams use a sufficiently wide set of actual legacy transactions.  The more functions and handoffs that are tested, the less likely it becomes that errors of any significance will remain undetected.

Having completed the Integrated Pilot, we’ve passed through three long and arduous rounds of testing.  It’s a huge victory and the project end is now in sight.  Though the sprint to cutover begins, several significant milestones remain.

In next week’s ERP implementation tip, I will discuss the next phase – one that every successful, lasting IT implementation depends upon: end-user training.

Remember: if you have any questions about integrated pilot testing in particular or on your ERP implementation project in general, feel free to contact our ERP experts.  We’re happy to help.

Good luck with your ERP implementation projects!

Your POV

  • Did any significant errors slip through the cracks of your Integrated Pilot testing phase?  If so, what were they and could they have been detected?
  • What were the biggest challenges in your Integrated Pilot testing phase?
  • In your view, what are the critical success factors for an Integrated Pilot testing phase?

In this series of weekly ERP project management tips, we walk you through an ERP implementation project using Pemeco’s “Milestone Deliverables” project management methodology.

You can buy our project management book and CD of template forms “Milestone Deliverables: The Hands-On Approach to Implementing ERP Projects” here.

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