Macerich, one of the leading owner/operators of US retail properties for the last 50 years, faced a sweeping upgrade of its ERP system. The daunting task of migrating from Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) R11 to version R12 was the responsibility of Leon Hampton, Assistant Vice President, who has over 20 years of Oracle/ERP experience.
We saw the testing effort required for the coming EBS upgrade would surpass in scope and scale any application changes in the history of our organization.
According to Leon, since the original Oracle EBS implementation by Macerich, the software’s footprint has expanded to include the following:
- 37 interfaces to other applications & business partners
- 4 integrated third-party applications
- 4 custom applications
- Many custom reports
“Oracle’s recommendation for an R12 upgrade is to test, test and test. We knew we had to involve the business users; the question was how to do that in the most efficient and effective manner,” he elaborates.
1. A comprehensive suite of test scripts that business users concur reflect business processes.
2. An efficient method for communicating issues to IT without undue burden on business users.
3. A high degree of confidence among business users that they had been engaged fully in the testing process.
To assist and support the testing process, Leon added Lori Andrade, Senior Business Analyst, to his team. Lori has decades of experience with business processes and information technology. Over the years, she has worked with dozens of applications within multiple areas of Macerich, including EBS, Siebel CRM, several leasing solutions and a variety of custom systems for receivables tracking, online generation of property plans, and security and risk management.
This project was huge, and testing would be an unprecedented burden on the business unless we found a new way to tackle it.
“Oracle tool too technical”
The pair knew that a technology solution would be the answer, so they set about evaluating a solution that Macerich already owned, Oracle’s Application Test Suite. But after being trained in its use, they quickly determined the Oracle tool was “too technical” for business users, even combined with Oracle’s User Productivity Kit. So, with a recommendation from IT leadership, they embarked on a search to find a new testing solution that would, in Lori’s words, “benefit our Oracle R12 upgrade efforts, as well as become an integral part of all other application projects” across their architecture.
We took the opportunity to lay the groundwork for an improved testing methodology with any type of application change in the future..
A comprehensive and cost-effective solution
Leon discovered Original Software while attending a presentation at an industry conference and added Original to the evaluation process. After a round of presentations to Macerich’s team of business system analysts and a proof-of-concept demo, Original Software won the day. “Original Software offered a comprehensive set of features, ease of use for our business partners and cost-effective pricing,” says Lori. Macerich licensed three products: Qualify AQM for task management, workflow, tracking, reporting and storage of scripts and results; TestAssist to facilitate manual testing and produce application user guides; and TestDrive for automated testing.
Original Software’s tools gave us confidence that we accurately identified business scenarios that required testing and assigned these tasks to appropriate resources. We weren’t just testing changes. We were capturing business processes, taking ownership of those processes and adding integrity to our knowledge of the business.
“Deployment occurred concurrently with our existing R12 upgrade timeline,” recounts Lori “I trained over 50 testers in April, and supported most of them remotely throughout UAT.” The team used TestAssist to increase the productivity of manual testing, expanding the number of test cases completed in any given time period without increasing the number of staff involved. The technology recorded every test step, enabling the IT team to accelerate the testing cycles by eliminating the need to document manually the issues encountered.
This approach removed the burden on the business users to duplicate failed test steps in order to document an issue; everything they did was being recorded automatically.
We easily reduced the testing burden on business users by 25 to 35 per cent.
Out-of-the-box reporting capability
“We took the opportunity [of the R12 project] not only to streamline and accelerate the R12 implementation but to lay the groundwork for an improved testing methodology with any type of application change in the future.
Qualify AQM’s out-of-the-box reporting capability allowed us to easily track which tests were done, which were not done, and who’s responsible and show that information to the team during the testing cycle.
Qualify AQM helped us assess and prioritize issues for resolution, which has been key to building our business partners’ confidence in the process.
Reducing the number of surprises
We were able to tell the business how many issues were outstanding and what we were doing about them. Comprehensive documentation lent full visibility of test results from start to finish, helping to reduce the number of surprises that would surface when the time came to go live.
Original Software’s tools gave us confidence that we accurately identified business scenarios that required testing and assigned these tasks to appropriate resources.
We weren’t just testing changes. We were capturing business processes, taking ownership of those processes and adding integrity to our knowledge of the business. We took the opportunity to create a full catalog of test scripts that could be used in testing patches and other smaller changes.”
Lori also credits support from Original Software’s team of consultants, which remained available, accessible and actively engaged in facilitating quality assurance through the full 9-month course of the project.
Overall, we accomplished more in less time with the same number of people.
Lori next rolled out Original Software to a team of testers embarking on a Siebel CRM upgrade, another Oracle Application. But she says the tools will not be limited to one software vendor or type of technology.
“We plan to incorporate Original Software in all application projects,” Lori says. “Automation is definitely on our radar. Plus, we plan to use Qualify AQM to help manage the testing in non-software projects, such as hardware implementations or network upgrades.”
There also is great potential benefit in publishing TestAssist recordings on our collaboration portal so users can access them as training materials. This documentation will help speed up rollouts and refreshers, and free up IT time.
J.P. Jones, Senior Vice President, Chief Information Officer for Macerich, says the time saved by IT will translate quickly into greater productivity:
“In speeding up and streamlining our testing processes, Original Software has helped improve the productivity of our IT and business teams by reducing the time required for testing. Original Software has turned out to be among the top five best application purchasing decisions we’ve ever made.”
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