There are multiple reasons why the banking and financial industry needs enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. ERP system facilitates agile delivery in the broader spectrum of banking and financial services and solutions. The system is used to understand the implementation at a large scale. The ERP systems offer solutions to multiple issues in the banking industry and help with thorough insights for upcoming projects. The ERP system helps in resource planning and increases the efficiency and productivity of an organization. The organizations have seen visible results by implementing ERP systems due to their benefits like,
- Improves business reporting – ERP creates one integrated database for all business processes and provides real-time information and comprehensive business reports.
- Improves customer services – ERP systems offer better accessibility to customer information with an improved response time, on-time delivery, and order accuracy.
- Better inventory costs – ERP systems include only the most essential inventory and avoid common problems like higher overhead costs and longer customer fulfilment times.
- Improves cash flow – ERP systems offer better invoicing. It is a superior collection tool that enhances cash flow. Faster cash inflow allows adequate investment for the business.
- Improves cost savings – ERP system allows cost-saving with improved inventory planning, customer services, procurement, and vendor relationship management.
- Improves data and cloud Security – ERP system has dedicated security resources, which prevent installing malicious software. It improves data and cloud security as the data is spread across multiple servers.
- Improves business process – ERP system helps improve mundane or manual tasks and implements smarter workflows allowing you to work more efficiently.
- Manages supply chain – ERP systems effectively forecast demand and lean inventory. It reduces the production bottleneck and offers greater transparency in your business.
However, the organization cannot always guarantee the successful implementation of ERP systems. ERP implementation can fail at its pilot phase due to multiple reasons. Poor project management, data inaccuracy or quality issues, implementation without adequate planning, ineffective consultation, inability to reduce the implementation cost, and more are a few reasons for ERP implementation failures. ERP implementation depends largely on the organizational approach. The organization may invest time and money only to see process stagnancy with little to no significant growth.
Testing of ERP systems in the banking and financial industry
ERP systems in banks and financial institutions are a procedure to plan and are commonly used by banks and financial institutions because of time constraints. ERP implementation works best with the right planning and strategy. It enhances the productivity and effectiveness of the process and people, supports business operations, and helps in business decision-making. ERP systems in banks and financial institutions can be tested at the core level and implementation level. The core team validates the static functionality of ERP systems, while the implementation team validates the dynamic and tailored features and functionalities.
The changes in features and functionalities, as we know in the banking industry, are extremely frequent. A small change in the system features can affect the workflow of multiple modules. The changes must be recorded and validated accordingly to ensure that none of the changes alters the system configurations. A system with a massive amount of data requires test automation. The organization analyzes the requirements and designs the automation test framework based on organizational infrastructure.
Challenges of testing ERP systems
- Frequent changes and inaccurate data – The ERP system implementation is a long process during which the system performance can fluctuate a great deal. The entire implementation process involves multiple risks that must be addressed in time. Banking systems are vulnerable and open to frequent changes. Due to the frequency of changes in the banking structure, the update must be constant and continuous, which also requires system receptibility. The changes must reflect in the system without delay. If there is a delay in data reflection to the system, there will be a discrepancy in available data that leads to data inaccuracy.
- Integration of new data with old legacy systems – Banking ERP systems have a broader scope. The dataset entered in the bank ERP systems is used in the various processes throughout the organization. The data is used in Marketing & Sales, Accounting & Finance, Supply Chain Management, Human Resources and many more. The data is stored centrally in the old legacy systems and referred to by various organizational verticals for different purposes. The main challenge here is it often becomes hard to test these legacy systems due to the absence of adequate tools. As the legacy systems store a high volume of data, the end-to-end testing of the legacy systems becomes necessary. It is a time-consuming and tedious task to test the legacy systems. In the case of banks migrating data from legacy systems to new ERP platforms, there can be a delay in the entire testing project leading because of slow data migration and unavailability of data, which can lead to multiple errors in the systems and banks’ internal processes.
- Implementing ERP in rush and without planning – This challenge is common when banks start their operation for the first time. Due to rising demand and customer requirements, banks and financial institutions are sometimes in a rush to implement ERP systems and critical aspects of the ERP systems can be overlooked. The urgency of implementing the ERP systems always leads banks to ignore the critical aspects of ensuring system quality. It also leads to implementing ERP software without adequate planning. If the systems are implemented in rush it might lead to multiple performance issues, data integration and security, data migration issues and more.
- Lack of project knowledge – Lack of project knowledge can lead the team to witness challenges of testing ERP systems. The team must have adequate project knowledge and training to learn about the project requirements. Adequate communication and training about project requirements make the ERP testing process easy and convenient for the team. With adequate project knowledge, the testing team can validate various aspects of ERP implementation at the various phases across the business operation.
- Lack of technical knowledge and absence of specialized team – ERP testing in banks is not a mission-critical practice, which leads backs to ignore a few critical aspects of ERP implementations. Banks and financial organizations execute testing ERP implementation along with other crucial testing projects. And often, the management team do not feel the need to delegate the most competent team. Banks also do not deploy a specialized team for testing the ERP platform. Banks cannot guarantee the success of ERP implementation testing due to a lack of technical knowledge and a specialized testing team.
Ways to overcome the challenges of testing ERP systems
All the components and modules of the ERP platform must pass through system integration testing. ERP being a central data system is a data source for multiple verticals. If the source data is not integrated efficiently, the processes within the organizations will not receive adequate and accurate data creating an immense discrepancy in the organizations. Banks’ data and information require utmost security and safety against data theft and manipulation. Hence, security testing is critical to ensure the safety of sensitive data.
Due to multiple changes incorporated in the Bank ERP systems, there can be a few alterations in the user interface design. It can also lead to confusion among the users. Hence with each implementation, it is necessary to ensure that the changes meet user requirements. System efficiency is crucial even with effective changes. An adequate module validation can ensure that even with several changes, implementations, and interpretations, the design flow of the interface remains intact. System integration and usability testing ensure that users can use the systems without disruptions.
It is necessary to validate the performance of the ERP system. The ERP system’s accuracy and speed determine its performance. It is crucial to validate the systems of their load, stress, capacity, volume, and scalability to ensure the reliability and stability of the system even with its extreme load. The performance of banking systems comes under heavy scrutiny from users or customers. Hence, testing the software before installation is essential to always ensure seamless performance.
Even a slight change can impact on the system’s performance, and as far as banking systems are concerned, the changes are extremely frequent. Regression testing ensures that the minor changes do not affect another subsequent module. As modules are interdependent, the poor performance of one module can heavily impact another. Through testing, the team ensures that all the modules and features run smoothly without any errors.
Testing ERP systems has drawbacks, but since ERP systems are not among the most critical functioning systems, banks and financial institutions tend to delay the testing of ERP systems or keep it long on their bucket list. It does not reduce the complexities of ERP system testing but aggravates it. The most pertinent approach is to address the issue by testing simultaneously with the implementation process. The most accurate approach is to build an appropriate implementation strategy and plan to avoid resolving the issues at a later stage. It is always a good idea to prevent rather than fix the occurrence.