How to Test Software: The Last Step Before Systems Go Live

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: July 28, 2022

Once we have built the software and integrated it as we would like it to operate into our system architecture, it's time to test it and make sure it works properly. The goal here should be to break the system. We want to conceptualize and test the system in various ways to ensure it’s ready before we go live. To begin, there are a few different components and iterations of the testing cycle. The first of that is called unit testing. 

When undergoing unit testing, the focus is primarily on making sure that the technology itself works. Through this process, we will evaluate every microcosm and functionality of the overall technology. We want to make sure that no codes have been broken through customizations, confirm configurations across the entire system, and ensure that data is flowing through the system correctly. Unit testing ultimately comes down to testing different elements of the system itself to confirm functioning prior to moving on to the rest of the testing phases. 

Once we can confirm that the system is, in fact, working correctly, then we move on to integration testing. This is where the individual pieces of the system's web are tested. We will explore how each integration of different systems works with the new software. This is typically done through end-to-end testing. Going back to the example of testing an order lifecycle from the moment the sale is closed to the manufacturing process entails multiple systems to talk to one another. In this scenario, the CRM would likely transmit data to the ERP system, and the ERP system would distribute relevant information to the HCM system for commissions and payroll and to the WMS system for manufacturing. 

In integration testing, we are testing end-to-end processes through the new system architecture. This exercise will highlight any areas that need attention and TLC before moving on to go live. The last thing we want to do is go live with a new system, only to have a broken integration somewhere within our system architecture, disrupting our operations as a whole. Once we have tested various scenarios, we can move on to user acceptance testing. 

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Business and user acceptance testing, oftentimes called conference room pilots, are less focused on technology and more focused on making sure that the business needs are being addressed. It also explores whether or not the business processes will work in a way that will tie in all three pillars of our transformation efforts: People, processes, and technology. Essentially, this element of testing will be a business simulation to determine what it would look like to use this technology within a production setting. This is the final phase of testing to make sure all looks good and the kinks are worked out before going live.

Testing is the single, most important element of preparing for go-live. As we go through each of these phases, follow these three rules of thumb.  

  1. Test both functional and nonfunctional scenario requirements

It’s time to get creative and introduce scenarios that could cause problems. Our goal should be to break the system and find holes that might come up once our greater team is utilizing the new software. Make sure to also test the requirements, system architecture, and really every corner of the software as best you can.

  1. 3x3 Rule

Just like there are 3 pillars, we will want to test everything 3 times. Depending on our tech specifics and requirements, we may need to test more than that. If our software is to be integrated with another software, those data flows need to be tested multiple times. Each time you make a change to the code, you need to test it multiple times. Yes, this sounds tedious, but this carries the ability to make or break the success of your digital transformation.

  1. Create test environments that mirror the actual scenarios the system will be utilized for.

By emulating software functions from an end-user perspective, we will be able to utilize real-life situational scenarios that the new system will have to accommodate. This is referred to as behavioral or black-box testing, and it touches on the user acceptance and functional aspects of the software. This will surface different types of issues – unlike white box testing that focuses on code structure, internal design, etc.

If you are on a digital transformation journey, or even considering upgrading your current digital architecture to drive efficiencies for your business, I welcome you to download the 2023 Digital Transformation Report. This report is packed full of research, rankings, and best practices that will guide you through a digital transformation journey.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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