I spend the whole week in Walldorf to take part at SAP’s Customer Engagement Initiative – It’s great to be part of it!. It was really awesome because I could test some of the new developments of NetWeaver 7.03. I had challenging discussions with developers from SAP and I spent the night at the one and only “Marktstube” thinking about product strategy. I’m not a streetwise tester so I used the evenings to recapitulate the day and plan my activities for the following day. I identified and prioritized test aspects and tried to focus on functional and non-functional requirements.
Does the software fulfill my expectations? Is it easy to use? Is the documentation correct? How can a tool be improved? What functionalities should be realized in future versions? Are there “quick wins” i.e. small changes that make the software much easier to use?
So talking to product managers is in fact the most important thing: Discuss the business process with them. Which functionalities are really necessary? What is useful and what is a golden handle?
Another important aspects are non-functional requirements: Is the software easy to customize? Can the software handle mass data? What about extensibility? Especially this aspect is very important to me. Because standard software needs extensions points so that can be adapted to the end-users needs. Without extensibility there are serious limitations:
- SAP Partner solutions can’t be extended to the need of their customers.
- The same is true for larger custom development projects (think of world-wide companies) which require extensions on multiple levels.
Administrative issues and aspects of application lifecycle management is very important, too. Are there administration functions like reports for monitoring? Are there automatic tests of complex customizing? Batch jobs are one of my favourite area of interest, so I’m asking the following questions:
- Does the report support parallelization?
- Is there a simulation mode?
- Is there a trace level?
- Does the job log contain the parameters from the selection screen?
- Is there a BAL protocol? Is it easy to find? Does it contain an aggregation of the output?
- Can I extend BAL messages by custom error messages?
- Can I restart a job that dumped?
- Is every selection parameter documented?
And what about dumps?
Personally I tried to produce a dump at least once a day. In fact I wasn’t much successful because the tools I tested have been very stable & robust. But producing as many dumps as possible is of course the least important aspect of testing. The reason for this is simple: there is no error free software and so we have to do risk management: some critical parts of the software have to be tested very intensively and others not. So it is most important to do risk management and define priorities of test aspects.
But if you want to produce dumps I suggest you to push the software to the limit: If there is a versioning feature and there are 999 versions allowed then create 1000 versions. When there are complex search helps and selection screens then type in weird data. Try out complex navigation paths, have a special look at amodal dialoges… Of course I’m trying those things to get a feeling of the quality of software and its robustness. But Customer Engagement Initiative is such a unique chance to exert influence on quality and strategy of SAP products so that you should try to make the best of your time. So try to focus on usability, functional and non-functional requirements. And last but not least: ask for the documentation and perform a review.
How to convince your line manager to take part at CEI?
A lot of reasons come to my mind why your boss should send you to CEI:
- Helping SAP to improve software quality has impact on your business. There is the chance of getting better software and this means saving costs and streamlining processes.
- Taking part at CEI means acquiring knowledge about features of the software.
- You have the chance to get in contact with product management to give SAP feedback about the overall solution, its strengths and weaknesses.