What is Robotic Test Automation for SAP?
Regression testing of SAP changes is a bit like flossing: everyone knows they should do it, but in practice it’s something that only gets done sometimes, and usually not very thoroughly.
To stretch the metaphor further—everyone knows substandard flossing can have nasty results, maybe even the loss of a tooth or two. It’s the same with regression testing: everyone knows poor coverage means defects can slip through into production, causing errors and downtime in business-critical systems.
So if everyone knows they should regression test, and everyone knows that inadequate regression testing can break critical business processes, why doesn’t everyone do it properly?
Manual regression testing is complicated and time-consuming (and boring)
It’s because regression testing for SAP systems has traditionally been incredibly complicated, time-consuming, and—dare I say—tedious. The work is mostly manual: mapping business processes, writing test scripts, creating test data, and updating both the scripts and the data when processes change.
That might not be too bad for a simple business app, but in many organizations, the SAP landscape is huge, complex, highly customized, and ever-changing. Writing and maintaining a script for every process is a practical impossibility: even if enough people were available to do it, the amount of work involved means even basic changes might take years to get into production.
Script creation and maintenance doesn’t just eat up testers’ time. It also pulls developers and business users away from their work, to provide input into how each process should run and what it should look like on screen. And that’s just for user-facing processes—there’s a whole submerged iceberg of non-user-facing activity, like batch jobs and RFCs , for which test scripts rarely even get created.
Traditional test approaches are out of step with the pace of business change
Small wonder that regression testing at most SAP customers covers only a fraction of the whole environment, and that organizations often struggle to manage production issues after a production deployment. One customer we spoke to said that with manual regression testing, they would typically experience 20-30 critical issues with every release.
Existing test automation tools can help a bit, but not as much as you’d hope. Most regression test software available today only increases coverage to 30% at best, and still requires high levels of manual observation of processes and maintenance of test scripts.
As customer expectations demand ever-faster rates of change, regression testing is becoming a huge bottleneck. Organizations are faced with a choice: move fast in the knowledge that things will break, or move slowly and risk losing business to competitors.
Neither of those options is very appealing, but what’s the alternative?
Introducing Robotic Test Automation: a revolution in regression testing
Well, now there is an alternative—and it eliminates practically all of the problems I’ve outlined above. Robotic Test Automation (RTA) is a revolutionary new approach to regression testing for SAP environments that cuts almost all manual work out of the process.
Rather than testers having to observe business processes in action and write scripts to mimic them, the RTA tool automatically records any or all processes taking place in live ECC or S/4HANA systems. All the tester has to do is identify the required processes and specify a start and stop time for recording.
Based on those recordings, RTA automatically creates a test script for each process, generating a complete test library with no need for manual script creation, often in as little as one day. That not only cuts overall regression test times from weeks to days, it also means a dramatic improvement in coverage— typically from less than 30% to between 60 and 80%.
Next, after you’ve created a copy of the production environment and applied the planned change—whether it’s a support pack, feature, bug fix, security change or full release - Testimony uses virtual ‘bots’ to replay exactly what it observed in the live system, into the copy. Any discrepancies are flagged as possible regressions for further investigation. Every step that Testimony takes is documented, many via screenshots, making it easy for developers and testers to see where issues are occurring and address them—long before they’re seen in production.
Accelerate and de-risk all kinds of SAP change—from BAU to major upgrades
Robotic Test Automation can be used in SAP environments to speed up business-as-usual change deployment while massively reducing the risk of production issues. It can also greatly accelerate and de-risk complex projects like cloud re-platforming or implementing major upgrades – including the S/4HANA releases currently being delivered by SAP on an annual basis.
The twin benefits of RTA—faster delivery and lower risk—also support a move towards a more agile form of change delivery that allows SAP teams to become more responsive to changing business and customer needs.
Truly automated regression testing is ideal for developing and deploying change in short sprints, where time pressure can make traditional testing methods even less effective than usual. RTA enables testing to ‘shift left’, empowering developers to swiftly assess the impact of new transports before they even reach the QA stage and deliver high-quality changes that have already been validated.
Testimony: the Robotic Test Automation tool for SAP environments
Robotic Test Automation can dramatically increase efficiency for SAP teams who want to meet demand for ever-faster change while minimizing the risk of production issues. Our Testimony product was the first – and to date only - tool to employ RTA in SAP environments. One international agriculture cooperative said: “Testimony really is revolutionary. It immediately challenged what we thought was the impact of change in our systems. It has fundamentally altered the way we think about testing SAP software.”
To learn more about how Robotic Test Automation with Testimony can accelerate and de-risk your SAP delivery processes, please do request a demo or watch our webinar: What if testing configured itself?