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f+h Intralogistics 3/2016

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f+h Intralogistics 3/2016


SUPPLY CHAIN OPTIMIZATION from the cloud SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT Rafi Kretchmer For manufacturing companies a smooth supply chain is critical when it comes to success or failure in business. Therefore, supply chain management (SCM) applications help to manage all material and information flows across the entire supply chain efficiently. For the supply chain to work without problems and interruptions, it is essential to update the respective applications on a regular basis. Rafi Kretchmer is Vice President Marketing by Panaya f+h Distribution 3/2016 In the course of digital transformation of manufacturing processes, SCM systems are increasingly changing due to the advancing connection of production and IT applications. Supply chain networks are becoming much more complex than they were before. This also has an effect on the adjustments to the system – these must now be done more frequently. To test changes regularly, companies should support their User Acceptance Testing (UAT) with a tool – ideally they should use an application from the cloud. They especially benefit from such a solution, when the test users do not work from the same company location, but from numerous locations. The solution supports the departments with testing and thus guarantees agility and quality of SCM system upgrades, which would not be possible with purely manual testing. Normally, the employees of each department are responsible for testing the system changes. There are numerous solutions to support them while doing so – however, they often lack the skillset that is necessary to work with the tools of professional testing experts. This results in several disadvantages and shows why companies should refrain from a purely manual approach for testing system changes. Risky upgrades Some companies are reluctant to upgrade their SCM systems. However, if they do not install all support packages, they increase the risk of so-called technical debts. This refers to the consequences that occur due to software that is poorly applied on a technical level. This results in unpredictable errors in the SCM system that may affect the whole production process. However, companies that do test their systems on a regular basis may encounter problems: Manual tests do often result in errors that go unnoticed or that are detected too late. Business users, many a time, do not know which area they should prioritize while testing – or they do not have any capacities to test all scenarios – and only after the upgrade do the vulnerabilities of the system become evident. Then, once live, the error has to first be fixed, which results in delays

in the supply chain. Consequently, customers have to wait longer for the goods they need. So it is not only important to carry out testing in the course of system changes, but also to know what should be tested in the first place. Lack of information SCM applications demand a high degree of scalability and flexibility. In case of any changes of the functionality, the test scripts need to be adjusted. However, when employees leave the company, who were once responsible for testing specific areas, it is often the case that the company lacks an expert, who still has the knowledge to adjust the scripts. It is the same case when it comes to adapting the test script libraries. That is a problem: If other employees lack the expertise to adapt those scripts, they would perhaps waste time testing scripts that have not even been updated by mistake. The testing of system changes often falls within the scope of business users who have commissioned these changes or are affected by these changes. However, they often lack comprehensive knowledge of all business processes that are affected. They neither have the time to take care of manual tests regularly, nor the capacity to cover all scenarios in a test. Apart from that, they are probably not able to predict changes in the system and their effects on the supply chain. For employees, the tests therefore are an additional burden that is hard to cope with: The result is that the test quality, the number of tests and the employee performance suffer. The solution: UAT from the cloud Unplanned downtimes of the SCM system and delays in the supply chain can be avoided by an efficient test support from the cloud: To make sure that changes to the SCM system can be implemented, possible errors must be determined beforehand or excluded completely. UAT from the cloud allows to test the functionality of SCM applications. It can be determined in advance whether the changes can be made smoothly productive or whether something needs to be fixed or improved. This helps to prevent system failures, delays or failures of the supply chain. An application from the cloud can support, when no expert for test scripts or test libraries is available to help with testing. The application always remains up-to-date and therefore makes it possible to adjust SCM applications in a smooth way. Hence, tests can also take place, even if no expert is available to support it. A test center provides control and transparency to such an extent, that the responsible employees are always informed about status and scope of the tests. While manual tests often represent an additional burden, UAT from the cloud supports when testing SCM applications. Such a solution can cover all possible test scenarios – also those that happen on a regular basis. Ideally, it stores all the known processes and is continually learning. Potential risks can be determined at an early stage and changes are implemented quickly. The analytical approach helps to optimize scoping. By automating the test documentation, employees have more time for other tasks. “Just in time” – the new standard A test solution from the cloud like the Panaya Cloud Quality Suite supports companies with the help of a comprehensive test management to ensure the stability and agility of their SCM applications. With UAT from the cloud, companies can better assess the impact and changes to their SCM applications. If testing and test scoping are carried out manually, it often results in errors – a UAT application from the cloud detects any vulnerabilities at an early stage. This enables companies to adjust the supply chain in a customer-centric way. An agile SCM system ensures that the supply chain is as agile as possible, too, so goods are always at the right place at the right time. Like that, “just in time” obtains a completely new meaning and becomes the new standard in the manufacturing industry. Photographs: Fotolia, Panaya About Panaya Panaya, an Infosys company, is leading in ERP change analytics and cloud-based enterprise software testing. The test solution from the cloud “Panaya Cloud Quality Suite” enables all types of SAP and Oracle EBS changes. The application is helping organizations to manage the testing process and collaborate between IT and business during the entire release process. Since 2008, 1,600 companies in 62 countries, including a third of the Fortune 500, have been using “Panaya Cloud Quality Suite” to achieve ERP agility. f+h Distribution 3/2016