Top 3 Challenges to Automated PeopleSoft Testing
Many organizations have tried to automate their PeopleSoft testing over the years, because manual testing is very time consuming and expensive. Few have succeeded.
At most organizations, the story about automated PeopleSoft testing is simple: "It's too hard for users to maintain test scripts."
There are three reasons this way of thinking has become common:
- Lack of consistent process, procedures, and metrics
- Use of ill-suited test tools
1. Release Upgrades
Upgrades are the main reason that users can't maintain automated test scripts, although it is probably more accurate to say that upgrades are the main reason users don't maintain test scripts.
Historically, upgrades have been the reason for automated testing frustration. Each PeopleSoft upgrade — from 7.5 to 8.0, to 8.4, to 8.8, to 8.9, to 9.0, to 9.1 — converts and/or moves the application data and data structures. Upgrades require a review of test scripts, followed by maintenance of the scripts. Scripts need to be maintained to allow for both new features, and underlying data changes in existing features.
In short, upgrades cause a cost/benefit problem. The benefit of test automation only lasted until the next upgrade.
Selective Adoption Aids PeopleSoft Testing Automation
Selective Adoption via the PeopleSoft Update Manager is driving many companies to take another look at test automation. No more upgrades means data and data structures of the applications remain constant. And this eliminates most test script maintenance.
Upgrades have been replaced with images. There are frequent new images released — 5 or 6 a year — requiring more frequent testing. These images contain bug fixes, new features, and regulatory updates. More frequent manual testing is cost prohibitive.
Selective Adoption creates a different test cycle, and almost mandates some level of test automation. Organizations run scripts more, and maintain scripts less. With images the application data and structure remain stable, eliminating most test script maintenance. Under the image delivery model, automated testing has a strong cost/benefit case.
2. Lack of Consistent Process and Procedures
Manual testing has limits in terms of the breadth and depth of testing, but perhaps the main challenge is the difficulty of establishing consistency and repeat-abliity. "It looks good to me" is a poor metric.
Automated testing does not begin with recording test scripts. Repeatable, consistent and effective testing begins with a PeopleSoft test strategy and test plans. Building (or buying) a bunch of scripts is the result of good planning, not a substitute for it.
In the past, test plans were usually a part of an overall project plan. And too often, testing's importance was undervalued. Testing ended up being the thing at the end of the project, when everyone was already exhausted and running out of time and patience. With Selective Adoption, testing should become more of a process, and less of a project.
Your test strategy focuses on how you will test. A test plan focuses on what to test. Without a formal, agreed upon test strategy and test plan framework, automated (and manual) testing efforts are likely to be disjointed and less effective.
Following the overall guidelines set out in the strategy, the plan identifies the components and business processes by application that are to be tested, as well as the definition and collection of test data, security, and test processing.
Beacon provides customized test strategy and test plan documents as part of our initial two week BEAM Test training.
3. Use of Ill-suited Test Tools
The final reason users struggle with test script maintenance is related to the choice (or lack of choice) in terms of the test tool itself. PeopleSoft has a unique architecture. PeopleSoft applications do what they do based almost entirely on configuration data, metadata, and PeopleCode. A test tool that is not integrated with this PeopleSoft data is very likely to frustrate testing efforts. Many excellent testing tools are generic, testing the browser actions but unaware of the underlying data structure.
Generic testing tools may struggle to keep up with (or wait for) PeopleSoft actions, or get confused when items are moved on a page or relabeled.
Using a tool that is well integrated with PeopleSoft, and designed to do regression and system testing, will allow organizations to execute thorough, scripted automated testing.
Historically, it has been difficult to keep automated test scripts up to date, reducing their benefit and usefulness. Because each image update is based on a 9.2 application release, Selective Adoption via PeopleSoft Update Manager mostly eliminates the need to maintain automated test scripts. Now, more than ever, automated testing for PeopleSoft can be set up and maintained with minimal on-going effort.
Adding a formal test strategy, and appropriate test plan documents, as well as an appropriate test tool designed for and integrated with PeopleSoft, can save 70-80% of the time currently spent on manual testing, while adding deeper, wider, and more consistent test coverage.