Modernizing Your ERP: Strategies for Successful System Testing


Navigating the complex world of enterprise resource planning (ERP) system testing is paramount for administrative professionals and leaders. As they work to modernize their operations, public sector and private enterprise organizations frequently come to the pivotal crossroads of ERP system transformation, which requires optimized testing across many different scenarios.

Each ERP journey is unique, typically, involving one of the three following scenarios: 1) transitioning from a mainframe system to a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, 2) transitioning from an on-premises ERP application to SaaS using the same product, and 3) transitioning from on-premises to SaaS with different products.

By better understanding the nuances of these scenarios, organizations can master ERP system testing and ensure a seamless and efficient implementation tailored to your organization's needs. The testing scenarios identified below are critical for planning the transition, selecting a best-fit systems integrator (SI), completing a smooth implementation and realizing the full value of the ERP investment.  

Scenario 1: Migrating from a Mainframe System to a SaaS Solution

Migrating from a mainframe-based ERP system to a modern SaaS-based solution is a significant technological shift. This transition often involves retiring legacy systems and adopting new technologies, necessitating comprehensive testing to ensure a seamless migration.

Testing in this scenario will include:

  1. Legacy data migration: Legacy mainframe systems often hold extensive historical data. Testing should focus on migrating this data accurately to the new SaaS solution, considering data format conversions and data cleansing.
  2. Integration testing: Mainframe systems are typically tightly integrated with other applications. Testing should verify that these integrations are successfully replicated in the SaaS environment, with a particular emphasis on data flows and business processes. As part of this step, it is important to make sure that the ERP system works seamlessly with existing hardware, operating systems and browsers, including mobile applications.
  3. Functionality regression testing: Leveraging a clear understanding of the requirements and performing a gap analysis are critical first steps to ensuring overall improvements. Be sure to identify and test gaps between the functionalities of the old mainframe system and the new SaaS solution. Ensure the new system meets both the organization's requirements and business processes and identify the system requirements to be confirmed during system design and comprehensive testing (e.g., unit, smoke and end-to-end testing).
  4. Change management testing and acceptance details: Transitioning from a mainframe system to a SaaS solution often entails changes in user interfaces and workflows. User acceptance testing (UAT) should be robust and involve end users to ensure the new system aligns with their expectations.
  5. Performance benchmarking: Upgrades can often improve the performance of the system. Compare key performance indicators pre- and post-implementation to ensure the SaaS solution achieves the intended improvements to the mainframe system, especially regarding transaction processing speed, response times and concurrent user capacity.

Scenario 2: Transitioning from On-Premises ERP Application to SaaS with the Same Product

Upgrading an ERP system from on-premises to a SaaS model while retaining the same product is a common scenario for organizations aiming to leverage the benefits of the cloud without changing their core ERP solution. This transition requires meticulous planning and a keen focus on ensuring a smooth migration.

Testing in this scenario will include:

  1. Data migration validation: Since data migration is a critical aspect of any upgrade, thorough testing is needed to validate that data from the on-premises system is accurately transferred to the SaaS environment. This includes checking data integrity, migration completeness and consistency. Considering cloud storage has sizing and structural differences from an on-prem setup, data migration is especially critical to the overall design and testing of the new system.
  2. Functional compatibility and integrations: Despite retaining the same ERP product, it's essential to ensure the product functions seamlessly in the SaaS environment. Testing should cover core functionalities, extensions and integrations to confirm compatibility. Since SaaS systems work differently from on-premises, all current and future integrations need to be thoroughly designed and tested. Do not underestimate the timing, duration and work volume needed for integrations, especially if there are a number of third-party integrations to be addressed.
  3. Performance in the cloud: When assessing the performance of your ERP system in the SaaS environment, be sure to load test to determine how the system performs under various levels of usage, including peak loads.
  4. Security and compliance: Make sure data security and compliance requirements are maintained or improved in the SaaS environment. Test access controls, encryption and compliance with industry standards and regulations – management and access are very different in SaaS platforms, even within the same product.
  5. User experience: Evaluate the user experience in the SaaS version, ensuring user interfaces are responsive and users can seamlessly access the ERP system from different devices and locations.
  6. Scalability testing: SaaS solutions offer scalability benefits. Testing should assess how well the ERP system can scale to accommodate growth in data volume and user load.

Scenario 3: Shifting from On-Premises to SaaS with Different Products

Transforming your ERP system from an on-premises solution to a SaaS environment with different products involves both technological adaptation and process reengineering. This scenario offers flexibility but requires comprehensive technical, functional and user experience testing to ensure a smooth transition and to achieve the full benefits possible through this option.

Testing in this scenario will include:

  1. Data mapping and transformation: Data mapping becomes critical when moving to different ERP products, as is often the case when the new product data structure is different in the new platform. Test data transformation processes to ensure data consistency, quality and accuracy during migration.
  2. Functional fit-gap analysis: Conduct a comprehensive fit-gap analysis to identify functional differences between the on-premises system and the new SaaS solution. Testing should focus on extensions, configurations and process changes to fit the required business needs with the new SaaS platform from a different vendor.
  3. Integration testing and middleware validation: Test the integrations between the new SaaS products and other systems, including third-party applications. Validate the functionality of middleware components responsible for data transfer.
  4. Change management such as user training, onboarding and UAT: Ensure that end-users are well-trained and onboarded onto the new SaaS products. Testing should validate that users can effectively use the new system, and that the implementation meets these unique business requirements from an end-user perspective.
  5. Data security and compliance: Verify that data security and compliance requirements are maintained or enhanced with the new SaaS solution. Test access controls, encryption and adherence to regulatory standards as access management for SaaS products from various vendors can be different.
  6. Performance and scalability testing: Assess the performance and scalability of the new SaaS products to accommodate the organization's needs. Load testing and stress testing are crucial for identifying potential performance bottlenecks. Confirm that compatibility and interoperability are tested to ensure the new ERP solution will work well within the existing IT ecosystem.

Testing Requirements for Regulatory Compliance

When determining the necessary testing for new system transitions, several key factors should be considered. These factors encompass the testing requirements essential for achieving both organizational and regulatory compliance. This includes adhering to industry-specific and government-mandated regulations, as well as fulfilling commitments related to unions and specific requirements for departments and units early in the ERP implementation process.

The implementation team must develop comprehensive compliance test cases. Equally critical is securing compliance assurance and support from system integrators, as not all integrators adopt the best practices for comprehensive testing. Exercise caution when dealing with testing methodologies, test cases and end-to-end testing scenarios associated with "Agile" approaches, which might compromise budgets, timelines or resources. Carefully assess the roles and cultural fit of system integrators and address any associated challenges with these.

Embarking on a successful ERP system transformation journey demands precise strategies and expert guidance. Whether you are considering an ERP upgrade, a transition from mainframe systems or a transformation with different products, our team of ERP advisors is here to support you every step of the way.

Reach Success with the Help of ISG

With our extensive knowledge and experience in ERP system sourcing transactions and implementations, we understand the unique challenges you face. ISG experts can give you tailored recommendations and assistance in optimizing your ERP system testing processes. As an independent advisory, we assure the efforts you undertake are balanced, effective and efficient and adhere to leading implementation practices.

Feel free to contact us for more information, consultations or to discuss your specific ERP needs. Your organization's path to ERP system testing excellence begins with a conversation. Your success in modernization and operational excellence awaits.


About the authors

Alex Perry

Alex Perry

Alex Perry is a thought leader in identifying, sourcing, implementing and sustaining pragmatic technology solutions in the public sector industry. He is passionate about leveraging emerging digital solutions to improve services for stakeholders across state and local governments. Focusing on processes before technologies, Alex works with public professionals to identify impactful and lasting process optimization opportunities to unlock the true potential of IT investments. His experience includes strategic planning and development, business analytics strategy, solution development and adoption, ERP planning and optimization, project management, and transformation management. Though he began his career in the public sector as a Business Analytics Director for a large state agency, prior to joining ISG Alex transitioned to consulting as a Director for one of the world’s largest IT and business consulting firms. At ISG, he continues to further his reach and impact by serving government clients across the nation.

Jonathan Tanz

Jonathan Tanz

Jonathan Tanz is an HR service delivery and technology specialist who is passionate about helping clients address their global, enterprise-wide, business transformation initiatives with a focus on increasing business value. He works as a trusted business partner, enabling clients to achieve business transformations through HR service delivery model design, process optimization and technology deployment. Jonathan has over 20 years’ experience working with HR strategy, operations, shared services, outsourcing and technology, helping Fortune 500 organizations align HR and service delivery model initiatives achieving their vision for strategic improvements. As a Principal Consultant in ISG’s HR Business Operations and Technology Adoption Practice, Jonathan brings a unique ability to simplify complex implementations, driving successes aligned through the intersection of HR processes, operating models, technologies and automation, organizational alignment, and change management enablers for global organizations.