News from IT that isn't just for geeks

Quality Testing Yields Smooth Upgrades

Posted on: March 14th, 2011 by Deetra Wiley

Imagine This…

A major upgrade is underway in the University’s SAP landscape and the dates of the production system upgrade are rapidly approaching.  As part of the upgrade process, functional users are asked to test their areas of responsibility in the Sandbox and QAS beforehand and report any issues that are discovered using the SAP Issues application in myOleMiss.  However, some users elect to test only a few areas.

Fast forward to the end of April.  The upgrade is now complete in the production SAP system and a functional user begins a process to change a student’s program of study.  Unfortunately, this particular area is not thoroughly tested.  As a result, it takes approximately one day for IT to research the issue, determine the underlying cause (missing authorizations as a result of the upgrade), add the necessary authorizations, and re-test the issue.   How could this scenario have been prevented?

Test Each Section Thoroughly (TEST)

Functional acceptance testing is an essential process of the application development lifecycle that needs to take place before rolling out any new application or updated components of an existing application.  This testing takes on a larger, more important role with SAP upgrades.  Thorough acceptance testing results in an overall smoother upgrade process.  The Office of Information Technology (IT) is already preparing for a major SAP upgrade that will take place on Easter weekend.  See the TECHNews article, Major Upgrade Easter Weekend: SAP Production & myOleMiss Unavailable, April 21-25, 2011.

“From the perspective of the support team, there are two aspects to testing,” stated Laurie Richlovsky, SAP Training Coordinator.  “First is making sure that all the applications are functioning properly. The second is making sure that end user authorizations have not been impacted by the changes – that people who need to use certain transactions still have all of the underlying authorizations to make the transactions work.  If either one of these has not been tested, the entire IT team, indeed, the entire campus, could be dealing with emergencies when the changes are promoted to production.”

Testing Experiences

Jack Garner, Bursar Emeritus, has been instrumental in the acceptance testing process for SAP upgrades as well as SAP support packages, which are typically applied quarterly:

“During one major upgrade,  I recall testing our Cash Desk process whereas our tellers post payments and print receipts for the payment.  In many test case scenarios, the system would not print a receipt.  In those cases where it did print one, the receipt was incorrect.  This was a show stopper for the Bursar’s Office.  With IT’s assistance, an OSS note was filed with SAP, and the problem was resolved before the go-live date.”

“Another area that we have to test when an enhancement pack is applied is our fee calculation process.  This area is ably tested by Deborah Smith, Senior Accountant.   If we are unable to calculate and post fees to student accounts, we cannot generate the tuition revenue that is vital to the University’s operation.”

Regina Johnson, Assistant Director of Human Resources, is responsible for coordinating all testing efforts within Human Resources, including Payroll:

“All HR authorizations and functions (i.e. records, benefits, compensation, payroll, reporting) are thoroughly tested before patches or major upgrades are applied in production,” stated Regina.  “This is a total team effort that involves the majority of the staff within the Department of Human Resources.”

“In regard to payroll processes, a time administrator’s role is to review, correct and approve an employee’s time sheet.  Time administrators across the entire campus routinely make adjustments to time entries for a number of reasons.  While testing in QAS, HR testers made corrections to a prior pay period.  Instead of the corrections overriding the previously entered time, the system added these hours to the time sheet.  If this was not caught during the testing process, this would have caused an overpayment.   With the assistance of IT, we were able to determine the problem, and after analyzing the problem and determining a solution, we underwent further testing prior to moving the correction to production.”

Testing Tips

Involve additional people from your area in your acceptance testing process.  Those who work with particular processes on a daily basis generally are the best testers.

Test all of your daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly processes.  In prior upgrades, some issues that were overlooked during the testing phase of the upgrade surfaced in processes that were executed only once or twice a year.

Report found issues immediately using the SAP Upgrade Issues application in myOleMiss.  To do this, login to myOleMiss.  => Choose the Employee tab. => Then, the SAP tab => Click SAP Upgrade Issues from the left “Detailed Navigation” menu.  => Click Submit New Issue located in the top right corner of the screen.  => Fill in required and optional fields, attach documents, and click the submit button.  Your form will be quickly routed to a member of the IT technical team to begin analysis and resolution of the issue.

Testing – Essential

Testing is important when  introducing new functionality or performing a major upgrade. By making a personal commitment to testing your areas of responsibility, you can help the University achieve a smooth and successful upgrade.  For questions or further assistance, please contact or the IT Helpdesk at (662)915-5222.