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SAP test automation further digitizes Accenture's ERP

Our internal IT digitized and automated SAP testing, reducing regression testing effort by 60 percent.

Opportunity to automate

Accenture is changing and becoming more diverse and complex through acquisitions and organic growth. This pace of change, in turn, is driving more demands on Accenture’s internal IT organization to enable the business to run better, faster and more cost-effectively. A major component of IT’s efforts to make this happen focuses on Accenture’s single, global instance of SAP, which Accenture uses to run its business.

While existing SAP testing methods were meeting business needs and were of high quality, the business changes occurring require more frequent and faster testing. The testing is becoming more complex, involving greater integration of different processes and applications. This posed a future challenge of not keeping pace with scaling business needs while maintaining the quality level. As with other areas of IT, internal IT and business leaders recognized there was opportunity to digitize and automate testing to respond faster and more effectively.

Working by priority

Favorable results with Worksoft Certify® led to a joint, global internal SAP business and IT team working virtually to perform a proof of concept (POC) of the tool. Following the proof of concept, which performed successfully, the combined SAP/IT team set objectives to automate repetitive testing activities and outlined several guiding principles, including:

  • Automate end-to-end processes so as to reduce duplicate test script creation efforts and risk of inconsistences among different teams and applications.

  • Acknowledge that automation requires a rethinking of each test scenario—tactical changes are typically required to increase efficiency.

  • Maximize reusability concepts during build, to reduce effort to build and to maintain the test scripts.

The SAP/IT team planned the approach and timeline, leveraging an estimator also used by Accenture for clients. The day-to-day efforts were assigned to Accenture’s internal IT operations resources. The operations testing teams, organized by business process, worked globally, virtually and in parallel over the course of a year through the key phases of the infrastructure build, application installation, training, definition and prioritization of the testing scenarios, and lastly, execution of the testing scripts.

The new automation capabilities enabled the testing teams to work through changing over from manual to automated ways by business priority. By the end of the project, the teams achieved completion of 600 test scenarios identified for automation. 

Achieving desired value

The completion of the test automation initiative confirmed the transformational value Accenture expected in terms of better, faster and more cost-effectively:

  • Better – Internal IT is maintaining high testing quality as Accenture has grown.

  • Faster – Regression testing effort declined 60 percent, which lets Accenture deploy changes to the business faster. The reduction of test effort in some areas was much higher; for example, a 90 percent reduction in the order-to-cash process.

  • More cost-effective – The reduction in testing effort reduced the following fiscal year’s testing budget by approximately 50 percent.

Having honed test automation, the SAP team was not only able to meet the project objectives, but also use automated scripts to test Accenture’s implementation of SAP Suite on HANA, SAP’s advanced in-memory platform, as Accenture undertakes a multi-phase journey to migrate to SAP S/4HANA Enterprise. For the next phase of the journey, the SAP team will create the additional automated test scripts needed to cover the resulting new processes and functionalities.

Additionally, the success of the test automation initiative opened the door to automating production processes as well, and led to a second initiative that is automating the production execution of Accenture’s financial close process. Accenture plans to continue to further automate its most complex and critical processes.