Exclusive: Testing times spell new business for Soltius
Soltius’ Orah Peri is passionate about testing.
It’s an industry she’s been involved in for more than 25 years and where she now heads up Soltius’ SAP testing business.
The business, launched late last year, has become a high growth area for the SAP provider – and the fastest growing business line for the company.
“Demand is coming all the time for testing,” says Peri, who is Soltius’ testing business line manager.
She says proper testing reduces the overall costs of development while ensuring the project delivers what the business truly wants and end user buy-in, but too often testing is an afterthought or token gesture tacked onto a project as it nears completion, when it should be included at the very start of a project.
“It surprises me that in today’s environment that is so rapid and changing some businesses are willing to take the risk of taking their product out there without testing, or not thoroughly tested.”
Peri, whose career in testing has included testing military devices, medical devices, infrastructure, communication, billing systems and security software among others, advocates using a combination of professional testers and business users, but admits some businesses believe they can use their own internal business staff to test systems.
“Most businesses just don’t take into account the cost of their accountant, for example, doing testing [of a new SAP financial system].
“It is still costing the business money – the accountants time is money and the work they’re not doing needs to be picked up by someone else – so they have to pay some supplement – or there is a cost for the business if the work isn’t done.”
She says using business users to test systems can also lead to gaps in testing.
“It’s not that they’re not good at what they do, it’s just that testing is not their expertise.
“Would you get your electrician to test the foundations of your house, or the builders to test the electricity? They’re both in the same industry, they’re both working on the house, so does that mean they can test each others work and verify it?”
Peri says resellers and customers alike need to be thinking about testing ‘at the very front’.
“Don’t say testing can wait until the end.
“Even if you just think about it and the decision is not to do any testing, that’s fine. But you have to allow yourself time to examine and analyse what testing will mean for you and what the result will be with, or without, testing.
“You need to understand the impact.”
For Soltius, the move into testing driven by customer demand.
“Soltius has been implementing SAP for 20 years now, but in the last few years they’ve been approached by different clients saying ‘you are SAP specialists, a Gold partner for SAP, why don’t you have this service for us?’”
Peri says clients were struggling with their own testing, and in some cases using third party testers but finding they needed more specialised testers.
“While testing techniques are agnostic from technology, if you don’t know SAP, for instance, it will take you a while to get up to speed, the same as if you bring in a tester who has never tested infrastructure.
“They will have their approach, know how to start to look for things, collect information and analyse, and they will get there, but it will take time.”
Soltius’ test team has quickly grown to 11, with Peri saying it is constantly hiring – a task which she says is ‘very hard’ given the lack of testers in the New Zealand market.