When you’re taking the time to implement a costly new software solution in Finance, you want to make sure you get it right the first time around. If you don’t, it can negatively affect your return on investment (ROI) by limiting productivity and efficiency gains.
In “The Three T’s of Implementing – Test, Test and Test,” a presentation at the 2022 American Payroll Association Congress, presenters Jeffrey Hill, CPP, and Linda Wong, CPP, laid out a testing strategy Finance leaders can use to make the implementation process as smooth as possible.
It may be a given that you’d test new software before you’d make it live. But are you testing it fully, considering all areas of your company that may be impacted during implementation?
Comprehensive testing helps ensure the system meets all your requirements in terms of form, fit and function – and that it’s working as intended. This helps you prevent costly, and potentially embarrassing, errors down the line.
To test your new system thoroughly, you’ll need to go through a multi-step process with your team.
Unit testing is likely the most important part of system implementation. Your objective here is to make sure the system is working correctly at the lowest possible level. Testers look at every critical, basic element in detail to make sure everything is functioning as intended.
With a payroll system, for example, your tester would check earning and deduction codes to make sure they calculate correctly and appear in the right places on employees’ paystubs. The tester would also see if tax withholding is accurate.
Checking these details may be cumbersome, but it’s also crucial to the success of your implementation process. And it lays a strong foundation for future testing phases.
End-to-end testing is important because it evaluates how your new system will perform key processes from start to finish. Here, your tester will need to run through detailed scenarios that may involve multiple departments and workflows.
If you’re implementing a new, integrated human resources management system (HRMS), you’d need to look at how all the pieces work together during various points in the employee life cycle, including recruiting, hiring, onboarding, benefit enrollment, timekeeping, payroll and termination. This is how you’ll catch any hiccups that could cause trouble.
You’d perform a similar test for a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
During the end-to-end testing phase, you’ll also need to have your tester conduct process testing. Here, the tester will look at each individual process end to end, including the payroll process and all related actions such as timekeeping, balancing, audits and security.
For an even more thorough process test, run the system through specific scenarios such as paying highly compensated employees or making wage garnishments.
It’s important to parallel test if you’re moving from an existing system to a new one, or even if you’re just changing from manual Finance processes to automated ones in the system.
What this means: Run through your Finance processes using both systems/methods at the same time, then compare the two. Look for any differences and make sure you’re not missing anything crucial that needs to be added to your new system.
This not only helps you figure out what to focus on improving during the transition, it also helps you develop a communication strategy to highlight the differences between systems for employees. That way, they know what to expect once implementation is complete.
When you’re performing regression testing, you’re looking to see that any changes you make to the new system don’t cause any unexpected issues.
Here, your tester would make changes like updating a salary code or a benefit deduction in a new payroll system and seeing how the system reacts. If the result isn’t expected, it’s time to talk with the vendor to fix the issue before moving forward.
At some point in the testing process, you’ll want to involve the end users – your employees. Typically, this happens toward the end of the main testing cycle when most of the bugs have been discovered and addressed beforehand.
With user-acceptance testing, you have employees attempt to navigate the new system and give feedback. Can they easily enter in personnel data, business expenses or hours? What’s the process like for making changes to the info on file in the system? How difficult is it for employees to find the features they need to use in the interface?
For a complete look at how the new system would impact users, it’s a good idea to have employees with varying levels of tech savvy try the system and share their thoughts. These employees can also pass along what they’ve learned about the system’s user experience to their peers as the process continues.
The final round of testing is smoke testing. Here, your tester will make sure the system has been migrated correctly and any issues that were highlighted in your end-to-end testing phase were resolved before the system goes live.
You may also need to make tweaks to the system depending on what employees experienced during the user-acceptance testing phase.
Following all these testing steps can make system implementation much smoother. And more importantly, it’ll ensure the system fully meets your company’s needs and gives you the ROI you deserve.