As the Program Director for a major implementation of SAP you know that testing is critical to the success of your project. How are you going to decide the best approach? Will you work with your Systems Integrator and follow their lead, meaning that the main testing resources will be represented by the lower cost, offshore-based team? Or will you think about bringing in a specialist company to take on the testing phase? It’s likely that you, like many others in your position, find the approach whereby your entire view of the importance of testing has been reframed in the workshops the specialists have conducted with you appealing. However, you are worried that the specialists are going to command a day rate significantly higher than the offshore team represent.

The soundest approach to making the decision is to consider role testing can play to make your project a success and overall the total cost of testing, not just the day rate you have to pay. In this respect there are three things to consider:

  • Quality
  • Hidden cost
  • Experience

Quality will ultimately define your project’s success. You must ensure a great experience for your business users and to do that you need quality. You have understood that testing is not an adjunct to the main project but the phase where everything comes together and which will be the ultimate determinant of the value the new system delivers. In the testing phase you appreciate that you need to integrate business process knowledge, deep SAP expertise and technical know-how. The testing phase is all about ensuring the original requirements defined for the new system will be met. On reflection do you think that the remote resources will have this approach?

You have been worried that the approach recommended by the Systems Integrator to use the User Acceptance Testing phase as the main “catch-all” for key problems goes against the specialist advice to “shift left” (i.e. building in testing into every project phase and especially using System Integration testing to eliminate as many key issues as possible). You realise that actually the cost of users’ valuable time, which will be consumed in far greater quantities by the offshore approach than the plan put forward by the specialists, will take the notionally cheap day rate of the offshore resources and make the total cost of testing more expensive than the expert alternative – without even beginning to measure the impact of the loss of good will on the part of users.

Finally you think that the experience of navigating the complexity of testing in such a large project would be very welcome. You fully appreciate the expertise of the Systems Integrator in terms of project leadership, program management advice, functional and technical expertise and industry knowledge. But you can see that not all testers are created equal. The combination of SAP knowledge, a clear and differentiated testing methodology, referenceability from multiple customers that have benefited in the same situation as you all start to become really compelling.

So you take all of these factors into account and recalculate the total cost of testing with a very different perspective from the one you were expecting – and from there your difficult decision suddenly seems easy.