Testing Delivers Order Management Systems Ready for Implementation

You’ve spent months selecting and preparing to implement your new order management system (OMS). Without adequate testing, the implementation can be a failure. For those that have not implemented OMS systems before, all program modifications and interfaces need to go through rigorous testing at various levels – at the program level; subsystem level; integration with other functions; and at the total system level.

There is no substitute for thorough testing. Here are the key testing principles to ensure you’re ready for a successful OMS implementation:

· The software vendor should have quality assurance (QA) as a principle of its development culture, process and methodology. Much of the testing is done by the developers with client user involvement. The QA function should have the independence to report openly to the user management and the software company its test plans and results.

· The QA attitude should not be to help developers reach the developer’s and client’s goals.

· Design documents, programming requests and programming specifications become the work papers for developing test plans.

· Present test plans to the client for approval. When testing has been completed, gain a sign-off on the test results by the development team and user management.

· Be aware that the amount of time required to fully test at all levels is far longer than many client companies installing an OMS may realize. A full systems test may take several months to complete.

· Build into your project and test plans, testing with alliance partners and all systems your OMS is being integrated to (e.g. credit processors, material handling equipment vendors, accounting system). This can be extensive in “Best of Breed” implementations.

· Remember you can’t “bake quality” into a shoddy application system after the fact. Quality has to be a principle that permeates the culture of the software development team.

· Volume testing and scalability for larger user applications needs to be addressed through benchmarking anticipated transaction levels during the design process and before implementation. For commercial OMS installs, ask the vendor to verify what transaction levels the application and equipment configuration can process.

· Use the outputs of a full systems test or conference room pilot to create training materials.

Testing at all levels is critical to delivering an OMS that is ready for installation.

Curt Barry is president of F. Curtis Barry & Co., a multichannel operations and fulfillment consulting firm.

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