What is a Test Environment?
A test environment (also called a sandbox or demo environment) is a setup where a team can run test cases without influencing live data. They are frequently used to make sure that planned upgrades, changes, or training are executed successfully before the changes are pushed to a live database.
The Importance of ERP Testing
The majority of the ERP implementation projects fail because of improper planning and testing. But don’t let this statistic scare you! Setting up the right test environment ensures software testing/training success. Flaws in this process lead to extra cost, wasted time, and possibly lost or corrupted data. It’s not an area where you want to cut corners.
There are many reasons to use a demo environment for your ERP setup, but they all come back to one core reason: peace of mind. A test database allows users to run through the setup and configuration of processes in a dummy environment while your company continues its daily processes uninterrupted. Mistakes are a-okay because they won’t have any bearing on how your business is actually performing.
Test environments are the perfect tool for getting the kinks out of your system before you launch a change full-scale, and they are key to avoiding implementation failure. Here are a few additional reasons to incorporate a test environment into your own setup:
1. Get the upper hand on implementation projects
Your odds of a silky smooth implementation are greatly increased if you’re able to devote careful thought to the entire process. Communicate constantly with your team to solicit the necessary feedback, too. A dedicated and educated user helps an implementation roll out smoothly. Software implementation doesn’t have to be painful — and with some forethought, careful planning, and a whole lot of communication, it won’t be.
Test environments should be part of the planning for any implementation project. Once the implementation has been completed and the change is live, the test environment should be maintained so you can use it again for any future projects.
2. Upgrades made easy
When users can get their hands dirty with a new version of the software you’re using before they need to use it in a live environment, it’s a big confidence booster. It’s also an effective way to cut down on unanticipated surprises.
When you’re able to try an upgrade in your test environment before pushing it live, you get to work through all the changes on your own terms. There’s no need to rush when the live portion of your business is functioning as usual. Take your time learning the ins and outs of the upgrade you’re going to use. By the time you’re ready to go live, you’ll have already gone through the process once. This experience will make the real thing much simpler for you the second time around.
3. Effortless training
You wouldn’t want an untrained doctor to perform his first open-heart surgery on you, would you? Maybe your business scenarios are generally a little less extreme than this example, but the same principle still applies. Why risk having a new employee make mistakes to your production database when they can (safely) make mistakes in a closed loop? It’s the perfect place for them to learn.
A demo environment for your ERP solution provides you with the perfect backdrop for training employees on existing and new features ahead of deployment, helping them hit the ground running. If your system is complex and difficult to learn, they can work at their own pace without slowing down day-to-day business.
Whether it’s implementing a new software system or simply starting to use a new module within your current system, the test environment is the perfect place to train users.
A Test Environment is a must
If you’re not yet using a training or test instance, you may want to consider doing so to fully realize the benefits above. For what it’s worth, we strongly endorse the idea. When it comes to making changes in a system as delicate as your ERP solution, you can’t be too careful. Using a test environment before rolling out any changes to your live database gives you the freedom to take things slowly and carefully.
Don’t let the idea of maintaining a separate database scare you — keeping a maintained test environment will be a huge help when making any changes to your system. If you’d like a hand managing a SQL database, taking backups, or just have a few questions about ERP, schedule some time to talk with us! We’re no strangers to tackling the tough stuff!