Accenture is on a digital transformation journey in all aspects of its business. For one aspect of the journey, Accenture chose to transform its technical architecture supporting finance, HR and analytics capabilities by implementing SAP S/4HANA®. This transformation presented opportunities to improve software and process implementation quality and agility through automating functional and security regression testing, testing of the SAP S/4HANA implementation and automation of Accenture’s financial close process.
A joint, global Accenture internal Finance and IT team selected to use Worksoft Certify® for finance and HR regression testing based on favorable experience at Accenture client projects and proof-of-concept results. A core automation team was enabled to provide governance and support, and functional SAP teams were trained to automate test scenarios.
Normal regression testing efforts began with Accenture’s SAP® Business Suite on Microsoft SQL (ECC) and SAP Business Warehouse (BW) on Microsoft SQL systems. Testing efforts then transitioned with the company’s migrations to SAP® Business Suite on HANA and SAP BW on HANA, and ultimately to SAP S/4HANA.
The new automation capabilities enabled the testing teams to work through changing over from manual to automated ways by business priority. Regression testing effort declined 60 percent, enabling Accenture to deploy more changes to the business, and with more agility.
Test automation was a key enabler to Accenture’s successful implementation to SAP Business Suite on HANA, followed by SAP S/4HANA.
Testing the new functionality of the SAP S/4HANA software necessitated having to remediate existing automated test scripts as well as creating new ones to test new functionality.
The remediated test scripts were then used to automate 80 percent of functional regression testing during the extensive product and regression testing cycles conducted. This automation saved approximately 12,000 manual hours of effort and identified SAP system defects—none of which appeared once Accenture was in production.
Internal IT also executed a parallel financial close impact test, comparing Accenture’s financial results processed in SAP Business Suite on HANA and SAP S/4HANA to ensure the ongoing integrity of Accenture’s financial results.
In addition, internal IT was involved in automating 50 cutover activities, practicing cutover 16 times to progressively reduce the amount of cutover time and to confirm execution quality. These efforts contributed significantly to reducing cutover time by 40 to 50 percent of the total duration of manual cutover actions and enabled a high-quality cutover.
A final area of automation was the automation of testing the 120 SAP S/4HANA-impacted security roles, uncovering 92 defects in the process that were remediated.
Another initiative of using Worksoft Certify, this time in combination with robotic process automation (RPA) concepts, was to automate business processes—specifically the execution of Accenture’s financial close process.
This process consists of thousands of repetitive activities, most of which were already automated in SAP jobs, but a number remained manual. Internal IT addressed an initial 180 most-critical manual activities by executing them in the test cycles to validate that the close playbook activities work correctly.
In addition, by using RPA concepts to automate the entire span of financial close activities in testing, Accenture can secure the same automated test scripts in production and eliminate human intervention.
In this way, Accenture has innovated an approach to automate its financial close execution.
SAP system defects identified
in functional testing
0 present in production
SAP defects identified in security testing
SPEED AND AGILITY
product and regression testing automated during the extensive testing cycles
practice cutovers to reduce
ACCENTURE'S FINANCIAL CLOSE PROCESS EXECUTION
manual activities automated by executing them in the test cycles
reduction in following FY
manual hours saved
ACCENTURE'S FINANCIAL CLOSE PROCESS EXECUTION
manual hours reduced annually
Accenture’s automation journey in testing and robotic process automation (RPA) has demonstrated sustainable business value through quality, speed and agility, and cost reduction—ultimately enabling a smoother-running business.
Raised quality by testing items that were too complex to test before and by having less human intervention.
GAINED SPEED AND AGILITY
Gained speed and agility through the ability to test and absorb more business changes in shorter periods of time.
Deliver new business capability quicker because automated testing is faster, repeatable and can be executed by multiple virtual machines in parallel.
Reduced costs through the reduction of hours spent on manual activities.
Freeing up of individuals for higher-value work.
The journey ahead will involve moving the financial close process into production landscape activities. The potential to automate more activities is ever-present as is the increased use of artificial intelligence to improve the governance and support of the automated processes, such as enabling automated processes to learn, advise or adapt when they need to be remediated or changed.