Prebuilt and Sample Test Scripts for PeopleSoft
The 9.2 PeopleSoft Update Manager delivery of frequent image updates, combined with the "no upgrades" PeopleSoft road map makes a strong business case for automating testing for PeopleSoft. Regular updates imply regular, repeated testing, and the lack of future upgrades reduces substantially the need for on-going script maintenance due to new releases. Keeping current is also more desirable, as image updates now contain both fixes and new features and functionality.
Although automated testing will save 70-80% of the time spent on manual testing approaches, there is front end work and planning necessary to design and build the tests and test cases in the first place. In an effort to reduce this upfront script development work, a variety of firms have begun offering/selling "prebuilt test scripts" for PeopleSoft.
In theory, this sounds like a good idea.
And as a matter of fact, we provide a number of prebuilt scripts for Financials and HCM with our BEAM Test product. We include these scripts as examples of certain approaches and techniques, for example, how to set a radio button, or how to select from a drop down list. More importantly, we also provide customers with a comprehensive set of the proven sample test scripts we use in our consulting practice to test PeopleSoft (FSCM and HCM) upgrades and implementations.
In practice, however, we don't see much value for customers in prebuilding scripts — creating a set of DEMO data for PTF (PeopleSoft Test Framework), which is what prebuilt tests scripts are. Since 90% or more of these scripts will have to be customized in order to even run outside of a DEMO environment, we'd argue these scripts are "Trojan horse" marketing — buy our scripts (and buy our consultants to customize them).
What really bugs us about this whole prebuilt script gambit is that these suppliers imply that the scripts are going to transform PTF into a user-friendly regression testing tool. PTF with scripts is exactly like PTF without scripts: a functional testing tool.
"PTF automates various tasks within the PeopleSoft application, primarily functional testing." —Oracle 8.55 PeopleTools documentation
We've posted previously on PTF, and how it works. Whether scripts are prebuilt or not, PTF "scripts" also contain the data for the script, which is fine for unit testing, but problematic when you want to test 50 (or 500) vendors or employees or students. Because the test data is in each PTF test script, for each test you want to run, you will end up with fifty (or five hundred) times the number of PTF test records. And all of these test records will need to be migrated and stored in each of your environments. PTF is an excellent unit testing tool for developers; that is what is was designed for. It can quickly become a challenge to use and manage when use cases are pushed to try and encompass SIT testing.
Prebuilt test scripts are not a new idea. In fact, way back in 1996 Beacon partnered with SQA Inc., to design and build the first pre-packaged test kits for PeopleSoft. Rational Software acquired SQA late that year, and released the SQA Test Foundation for PeopleSoft in 1997.
In theory, the idea was that scripts could be pre-built to test various PeopleSoft business processes, across Financials and HRMS (as it was then known), and with some slight customization these scripts could be adopted by PeopleSoft customers to jump start or accelerate their testing processes. It was a very good idea, in theory.
But in practice it was another story. Test scripts worked great against DEMO, but "tweaking" and adjusting scripts to conform with the actual customer data and processes took as long — if not longer — than building the scripts from scratch.
We found, just like others find, that over 90% of the scripts will have to be customized, (and 60% re-recorded from scratch).
When you implement HCM, you don't go to the DEMO database and customize the sample data. You just set up actual, real employees. When you implement or upgrade AP, you don't customize sample vendors from DEMO, you set up the vendors you do business with.
The same process applies to testing. Sample scripts can be helpful, as a checklist or a guide to your testing options. But demo scripts are only helpful if you want to test DEMO.
Your PeopleSoft systems, while similar in high level processes, are not the same as other systems. Your industry, size and unique data configurations make any prebuilt tests generic.
Record scripts (once) against your data, to test your processes and your configurations. Beacon can help you put together a BEAM test bed of real scripts in four weeks - after out two week training and test planning sessions.