A Swiss watch is so well known for fine craftsmanship that the timepiece is synonymous with accuracy, precision, and reliability. This is fine by Richemont, a Switzerland-based luxury goods manufacturer and retailer whose brands include many of the most prestigious Swiss watches on the market, such as Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, Baume & Mercier, IWC, and Jaegar-LeCoultre. Exquisite quality and attention to detail are hallmarks among all Richemont companies, whether their products are luxury menswear (Alfred Dunhill), jewelry (Cartier), fragrances (Chloé), writing instruments (Montblanc), or fine sporting firearms (Purdey). At Richemont, the quality culture extends from its products into all levels of business execution.
This €10.1 billion enterprise is organized into Maisons (business units) — and while each Maison is run independently, responsible for product development and manufacturing to marketing and customer service, the Maisons share IT teams and systems. Its large SAP landscape includes SAP Business Suite functionality for finance, supply chain, manufacturing, customer relationship management, and warehouse management.
While the meticulous manufacture of luxury watches is intricate, what invites even more complexity for Richemont is that the many details involved in the production of its luxury products just scratch the surface of the sheer number of business processes that run through SAP ERP, including distribution and retail for varied product lines. While every Maison has its own business processes, often steeped in history, all demand excellence throughout every step of the overall supply chain.
For this reason, testing — in particular the testing of complex, integrated business scenarios — is of paramount importance for Richemont’s application landscape, which undergoes consistent upgrades, new releases, new projects, and maintenance cycles. The need to stay current with its IT infrastructure to better serve internal and external customers, as well as manage new growth from acquisitions and additional revenue streams, means that accuracy, precision, and reliability are as important to Richemont in its business process environment as these qualities are in its products.
Keeping Pace with Change
For many years, Richemont relied on manual functional testing processes, which weren’t providing the company with the integration or scalability it needed in a rapidly changing enterprise landscape. And the business had only experimented with the very basic test automation functionality found in SAP Solution Manager and SAP Web Application Server.
Over time, Richemont strained resources attempting to manually configure this level of integration, and a tipping point was soon reached as the volume of production changes continued to increase. A global upgrade, for example, often entailed up to 600 people working as full-time testers.
“Our landscape changes often, and it became very challenging to organize those types of resources without leaving key business processes uncovered,” says Isabelle Bour, Richemont Testing Manager. “About five years ago, we pursued the idea of automated testing with the intention to not just reduce manual effort, but also have an automation tool that could run completely independent of the tester, meaning an integrated end-to-end scenario — different than what we had been doing previously, which was testing transactions independently.”
Without regular and consistent testing, it was challenging for Richemont to deliver new functionalities on time. Reducing this risk, lowering operational costs by eliminating the need for granular scripts, and improving time-to-market with end-to-end automation integrated with SAP Solution Manager were Richemont’s priorities when it sought to partner with a third-party automation provider.
A key goal for Richemont was to end manual testing of its roughly 500 key business processes, which involved several teams — for example, sales and distribution, logistics, finance, and retail — and instead, test end-to-end processes in an automated fashion involving each team separately, including quality and pre-production testing.
“With the complexity and the number of changes through the system, we needed to considerably shorten our maintenance cycle,” says Bour. “Even testing every other day, or third day, we would encounter scenarios where we couldn’t establish the root cause of a failure. It was not easy to manage. We needed automation.”
Finding an Automation Solution
Four years ago, Richemont opted to implement Worksoft Certify, the flagship product from SAP partner Worksoft. The decision was made in part because Worksoft Certify Solution Manager Integration could deliver the integration that Richemont needed to manage the functional testing scenarios for its Java and web applications, as well as handle very high volumes of both SAP and non-SAP process workloads.
“We use SAP ERP and SAP Solution Manager a lot,” Bour says. “And we saw Worksoft Certify as the most efficient solution in the market because it makes it very easy to manage master data and the automation results for those enterprise applications.”
With Worksoft, Richemont has gone from automating roughly a dozen processes using three virtual machines during a 2011 proof of concept, to 13 machines on one server by the end of 2014 with about 500 automated business process scenarios in quality and pre-production. From 2012 to 2014, after-hours testing increased from 70 hours to more than 600 hours of automation per day across 30 parallel machines. This volume of daily automation is enormous and puts Richemont squarely among the industry’s leaders when it comes to ensuring business process quality. (For more information about Worksoft, refer to the sidebar at the end of the article.)
Validating Every Core Business Process Every Day
The increase in lights-out testing was made possible with Worksoft Certify Execution Manager, which enables the scheduling and management of unattended execution of Worksoft Certify for daily business process validation. This means grouping automated test scenarios, prioritizing tasks, defining dependencies, and allotting resources across multiple machines, all from a single interface.
A small staff in Switzerland monitors this interface in the SAP team competency center, which is responsible for test design, process validation, and process execution. The team collaborates with an offshore resource that handles automation development for process build.
The Cartier business of Richemont has an application for creating a sales order through its SAP Web Application Server that demonstrates some of the complex processes that necessitate integrated testing, as well as the need for lights-out testing. The application, called Set For You, enables customers to design their own jewelry, from choosing the stone and setting to sizing and engraving. Integration with SAP ERP allows Richemont to tie the application into purchasing, manufacturing, shipment, and payment.
“Testing for this application had taken four full-time people two days,” says Bour. “With automation, the testing is done in two hours. The complex flows, which involve dealing with precious metals and shipping to boutiques all over the world, created constraints that automation has eliminated.”
We have no choice but to have a robust automation solution, because we can’t survive without it. It would just be impossible to cover every business process for an upgrade without automation.
— Isabelle Bour, Testing Manager, Richemont
Through the first phase of the automation project, Richemont estimates it saved more than 55,000 hours of labor annually by eliminating the time and effort required for manual testing, translating to a cost savings of millions of euros. Other benefits included:
- Improved long-term business process quality by executing automated testing on a daily basis
- Avoided costly production mistakes by significantly reducing the number of defects introduced into SAP production environments and other enterprise applications
- Accelerated deployment of new and upgraded software, and improved quality of project delivery
- Greater coverage by automating 80% of critical business processes
Bour says that a return to a mostly manual testing environment is unfathomable. “We always have a lot of concurrent projects, and we test a lot,” she says. “We have no choice but to have a robust automation solution, because we can’t survive without it. It would just be impossible to cover every business process for an upgrade without automation.”