Convert promises to evidence: this is how the test game step could be summarized in an ERP project. You probably already know this, but this consists in requesting a demo from the editor-integrator, based on an operational scenario. This is a customized demonstration to ensure that the tool's functionalities are in line with one's needs. But how can we ensure that this phase takes place in the right conditions? How can this improved "proof of concept" bring real added value in the choice of an ERP software? The answer is: by learning about these good practices to make a successful test set!
No. 1 - Tell a story
The operational scenario given to the publisher-integrator must take the form of a real story, with characters - the company's employees - and a series of actions to achieve a given objective. Thus, your scenario will be more meaningful than a process listing, better understood by the editor and the demo will be more digestible!
Yves meets the company's representative at a business dinner. He senses the beginnings of a project. All the information he has gathered is entered in the company's CRM.
The project is confirmed during a more formal customer meeting. After consultation, Yves estimates the project at €100K for 100 days of service. He fills more in detail the customer file in the CRM: sector of activity, type of project, desired interlocutor, etc.
Based on an estimate, the negotiation begins. The customer signs the contract.
Now get to writing!
Quick tip: don't make a novel out of your story either!
If you have to become a scriptwriter for a while, your operational scenario should not be as long as Moby Dick. 5 pages is already too long. A test set usually takes place over half a day. If need be, it will always be possible to organize a complementary workshop at another time.
No. 2 - Use company names and figures
The ideal methode is to provide the integrator editor with an operational scenario including a maximum of authentic data: names of the people involved in the project, estimated costs, consulting planning, etc. It is essential that everyone, spectators and participants, can recognize the data during the test set - of course, you can slightly modify or mask them for confidentiality reasons.
Caroline, SA manager, has established an order based on a €30k, with 22% of maintenance on the unstored price.
The provisional planning extends over 50 days, invoiced on a time and material basis. The designated project manager Guillaume is assigned 10 days. Senior consultant Céline takes 40 days over the next 5 months.
No. 3 - Embrace several projects at the same time... but not too many!
The drafting of an operational scenario to be used as a basis for the test set involves taking as an example a project representative of the company's activities - or, to be exact, several projects of increasing complexity.
- Start with a simple project that will help you get familiar with the tool.
Let us say a project of about twenty days, invoiced on a direct basis, entrusted to a single person.
- Follow up with a more elaborate project that reveals more advanced features.
Let us say a similar story to the previous one, but on a fixed price project, with a billing schedule, a down payment and two different consultants.
- Finish with a complex project that tests the limits of the ERP software.
At this point, you can introduce actual re-invoiced travel expenses, a portion of last minute outsourced services, and an amendment to the project scope.
Note that the ideal number is between two and three projects. Below that amount is insufficient testing. Above that may lead you to exceed the half-day slot allocated to the test set.
No. 4 - Take into account all business units
Projects used as examples in the test set should allow each business unit to identify itself. This is essential: every entity of the company must benefit from it, so that the ERP software can be adapted to all needs. If two business units operate differently and you do not want to harmonise their operating modes, you need to establish two scenarii. You must be exhaustive about your target processes.
No. 5 - Think: "target scenario"
It is essential to think in terms of a "target scenario". The aim is to write an "ideal" operational scenario as a framework for the test set, formalised following the process audit. Here you can grasp the importance of these preliminary phases in any ERP project.
Test set vs. Specifications
Download our specifications layout template.
The test set phase, which allows the ERP functionalities to be compared with the requirements, is different from the specification phase. When the latter is a complete description of the project - indeed, composed of functional requirements - the test set is a support used exclusively to organise a demonstration!
No. 6 - Work on the test set with several hands
Drafting of the operational scenario cannot be done in isolation, between the project manager and the management. It is crucial to involve the end users, those "people in the business" (in accounting, SA, consulting...) who are best able to determine which ERP functionalities are relevant or not. It is a script that is written by several hands, in collaboration with the first concerned.
No. 7 - Provide dashboards in the appendix
A good way to help the editor-integrator project themselves in defining the needs to be met by the tool is to provide concrete examples of dashboards as an appendix to the operational scenario. Although take caution: add only really used and useful tables.
And good practice no. 8 - Anticipate the test set phase
As for any major project, the test set stage must be carefully prepared. Here are some tips:
- give your service provider time to get organised. Two to three weeks between the submission of the operational scenario and the demonstration is a reasonable time frame.
- Organise demos by inviting key users. Plan half a day per provider.
- Prepare beforehand evaluation grids to be distributed to users in order to collect their feedback on the demonstrations.
- Feel free to organise additional workshops if aspects or themes need to be refined.
When it comes to test sets, haste is a bad adviser. On the contrary: it is urgent to take your time and prepare this step well so that it is 100% in adequacy with the activity and needs of the company. Don't forget that it's about choosing a tool that will support you for the next 10 years ... at least!