Written by Erica Niesse
The most important phase to an implementation has finally arrived – testing. It is time to test the solution that you have invested a lot of time in over the past few months, and it is an exciting time! If you have followed all of the previous implementation steps adequately then this phase should run smoothly. You went through a discovery phase where you documented all of your organization’s current policies, procedures and any changes that you’d like in the future state of your software. From there you worked with your implementation partner closely in the requirements phase to take your current requirements and policies and transform them into traceable and consistent requirements that can be used by all areas of your organization. Your vendor then took the requirements and developed with the best solution for your needs with system configuration and interfaces. The implementation partner also spent a considerable amount of time performing Quality Assurance to make sure that the solution will meet the specific requirements that were gathered.
Now that these phases in your implementation have been completed, it is time for your organization to work together to test and ensure the solution is going to fit your needs. Your team might have been less engaged during the configuration phase since the implementation partner was spending time setting up the solution, but for the testing phase you will need to work closely together again. Your partner will provide you with tools to make this phase a success. If your team is new to the testing phase your vendor should be able to provide you with testing script suggestions, testing tool ideas and offer training on proper testing. It is important that you use a testing tool that can be shared easily across different stakeholder groups in your organization. The tool that you utilize should be easily accessible for the testing team, offer fields that will track all the components of a test script, and easily show if the test case has failed or passed. You will want to understand the role each person in your organization plays in the testing phase. If this is clear and each person is aligned and organized, this phase will run efficiently and you will soon be ready to deploy. Communication between all these parties is essential to the success of the testing phase.
We are going to dive into the various roles of your business and the key position that each of them plays during the testing phase.
- Project Sponsor- The Project Sponsor has been engaged throughout the life of the project to verify that each phase has been completed to the best of your team’s ability. The Project Sponsor will also give the go ahead for the project to continue to the next phase. They serve as the escalation point of the project for any issues that arise including if the project is running over budget or behind schedule. They will ensure that testing criteria has been met as communicated by the Project Manager and Test Lead, and give approval to deploy the new system based on test results. Not only will this person check-in with the project team, they will review the testing results at a high level to make sure the team is on track. This individual is held responsible for the outcome of the overall project, so it is important that this person is always informed of critical and high-importance issues during the testing phase.
- Project Manager- The Project Manager is the gateway into communication at all levels. The Project Manager works closely with the project team as well as the implementation partner’s team. They also work closely with the Project Sponsor to guarantee that the project is running on schedule and under budget. If a critical or high-importance issue arises, it is up to this person to verify that the issue is being addressed in a timely manner. Project Managers will need to ask their vendors for updates on when the issue will be resolved and work with the vendor to determine if the overall project timeline will be impacted. This person will also organize meetings to ensure teams are engaging throughout the testing cycle. They will also track how the testing is going, not only by checking in with the team but reviewing the actual testing results for verification. It is key that the Project Manager review the percentage completion in the testing phase, as well as how many test cases have passed or failed, in order to keep the project on schedule.
- Testing Lead– The Testing Lead is one of the most important roles in the testing phase. This person has been involved in the requirements phase, so they understand the solution and the expectations that the new system needs to meet. The Testing Lead should have previously met with representatives from various areas of the business to understand how they need the solution to work for them. The Testing Lead is responsible for creating test plans and coordinates which stakeholders will test various functional and technical areas of the software. The Testing Lead ultimately own the testing documentation or tool that is being used and track completion of testing activities. They are also responsible for communicating the status of testing to the Project Manager and sometimes also to the Project Sponsor. The person in this role needs to make sure that critical or high-importance issues are brought to the Project Manager’s attention immediately.
- Functional Analyst and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)– The analysts and functional experts were engaged in the discovery and requirements phases, so they will understand the policies and procedures that were outlined. Being engaged in these phases combined with expertise in their functional areas will give them the knowledge needed to test their functional areas and follow the test case steps. For example, someone with Payroll experience should test the steps for end of payroll period processing, verify timesheet results and validate employees are being paid accurately. The Functional Analyst and SMEs will need to communicate their test results by providing adequate information to the Testing Lead and implementation partner team. If a test case fails, they will need to provide detailed information about the steps they were taking when the failure occurred and steps to recreate. They will also need to communicate failures quickly to the Testing Lead so the Testing Lead can triage appropriately.
- Technical Staff- Similar to the Functional Analysts and SMEs, the Technical staff was engaged in the Discovery and Requirements phases. These team members assisted the implementation team with determining what data is needed in current and future systems. With the technical team’s assistance, payroll data can be exported out of the human capital management solution and employee data can be imported into the system. In addition to these interfaces, other systems might need updating and the vendor might need to receive additional files to operate. It is up to the Technical staff to guarantee that these files are running seamlessly into and out of the system. This team will need to work closely with the vendor’s technical team to coordinate timing and structure of the files, and communicate about issues that may occur.
Once all of your team members above have fulfilled their responsibilities in the testing phase, you will be ready to move on to system deployment!
As the leader in HCM strategic consulting, HRchitect can help your team with all your testing needs including delivering training on testing, determining proper testing tools, and building proper test cases. Further, if you are in the market for a new or replacement system, HRchitect’s Secure Selection process will help to ensure you choose the right system for your organization’s needs. If you have an existing HCM system, beyond testing mentioned above, we can help with implementation and/or optimization to ensure that your organization gets the most from your new technology and that your investment continues working best for your organization.
Erica Niesse is the Director of Workforce Management Consulting Services at HRchitect. Erica has over 9 years of experience guiding clients through successful Workforce Management system implementations.