Live from SAPinsider Studio: Nathan Sharp of Siemens Energy Discusses Worksoft

November 20, 2014

Nathan Sharp, Project Manager with Siemens Energy, joins SAPinsider Studio at Project Management 2014 in Atlanta to discuss the corporation's Worksoft Certify implementation and the benefits of automated regression testing for the company. Topics of this discussion include:

  • Drivers behind the decision to implement Worksoft Certify
  • Direct time and cost savings from test script automation during an SAP ERP upgrade
  • How with Worksoft Certify, Siemens automated a 400-step test script in an order-to-cash process that runs in SAP in 12 minutes

View the video, and read the edited transcript of the conversation here:

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider, and I am at the SAPinsider Project Management 2014 conference. Today, I am pleased to be joined by Nathan Sharp, Project Manager with Siemens Energy. Nathan, welcome.

Nathan Sharp, Siemens Energy: Thank you.

Ken: I was hoping you could start just telling us a little bit about Siemens Energy, your role with the organization, also some key business processes at Siemens that make validation and testing so important.

Nathan: Siemens is a large international corporation consisting of Healthcare, Industrial, and Energy divisions. I’m within the Energy division as an IT project manager. My job is to run IT projects. One of the projects I ran recently was an upgrade of SAP really for our financial component.

Ken: You’re talking about a project then in parallel with an ERP upgrade. Can you talk about some of the drivers behind that upgrade?

Nathan: We were on SAP ECC 4.6c which was quite an old version of SAP. We’d been on that version believe it or not for about 12 years; nobody really wanted to touch the upgrade project so somehow I got the chance to do this. And as part of that project we introduced the concept of combining it with a test automation project.

Ken: Why were the two hand-in-hand? What about the upgrade made this validation and testing project timely?

Nathan: Well, a large percentage of the time we were going to spend on that project was testing. Probably about 50% of the cost was going to be attributed to testing, so anything we could do to reduce that time or improve the quality of what we were doing I think was to be encouraged.

Ken: So what were the benefits? Have you been able to quantify the time and cost savings you’ve had with test automation?

Nathan: In the upgrade project, we were able to see that for a typical upgrade we would save about $270,000 in a project by utilizing test automation. But there was something even better that happened after our project. One of the people that we trained on Worksoft put together a routine of about 1,200 test lines and they ran it against a piece of code that was going to enter production and actually found that this code would have broken our financial closing process for the month.

Ken: That’s not good.

Nathan: No, not good. And it would have caused red faces all around. By having this test script in place we were able to predict that this would cause a problem, and not put that code as it was into production.

Ken: And safe to say that prior to the Worksoft implementation that would not have been caught in time?

Nathan: No way. Someone would have had to sit there literally for days to execute this test. They would probably have fallen asleep because it would have been monotonous, boring work. No human really would have done the amount of testing the automated tool was able to do.

Ken: And what about quality improvements with greater test coverage, can you provide one or two real-world examples there?

Nathan: We have an order-to-cash test of about 400 steps. And that allows us to test a scenario that we could not have done really in any other way. This test runs in about 12 minutes in SAP. If we would have attempted to do it in the real world, it would probably have taken two-to-three days and we would not have been able to get the people together. It’s a great example of where test automation improves quality, because we’re able to do things that manually we just wouldn’t be able to do.

Ken: Such as?

Nathan: Such as bring those people together, I mean physically it would have been impossible to bring those groups together to execute that test in any other way if we were going to do it manually. So by being able to execute that test in the tool, we were able to prove that the scenario works and at the end have really good documented results, screenshots of every step of the process that we could really not have done by ourselves.

Ken: Can you sum up for me then; did this Worksoft implementation meet or exceed your expectations going in?

Nathan: I think it has exceeded it, because we had the initial impression that the tool would just help us in projects and testing in the lifecycle of a project. But now we are seeing its potential to stop errors in production before they even happen and impact the business user.

Ken: Great. Well, Nathan, thank you for joining us.

Nathan: Thank you.

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