The importance of test planning and execution in Incentive Compensation Management (ICM) deployments cannot be overstated. Testing helps identify weaknesses, ensures requirements coverage, and provides confidence in the system. We know that making the investment in Incentive Compensation Management software is a big step – testing ensures this investment is the highest quality possible.
The causes of inadequate testing are familiar – lack of budget, lack of resources, incomplete data, incomplete test coverage – this often results in implementation delays, increased maintenance costs and quality takes a hit. However, one of the largest barriers to successful testing is simply a lack of understanding about test planning and proper test lifecycles.
So, what does a complete incentive compensation management test plan look like?
At Intangent, we like to start by mapping out the 4 stages of testing: Unit Testing, QA Testing, User Acceptance Testing, and Parallel Testing. These test programs apply for any Sales Performance Management vendor such as Xactly, Anaplan, CallidusCloud, IBM ICM (Varicent) or others:
Unit Testing is done by the implementation team, simultaneously with build. As each component is designed and built, it’s tested with sample data that needs to be available as soon as build starts.
QA Testing begins after the build has started, and it can be done by the implementation team, a dedicated QA team, or through a third party specified by the customer. It requires production quality data and this team needs to coordinate with the implementation team to assist with test case creation.
UAT Testing is done by the customer following the build and QA test completion – the biggest challenge with proper UAT testing is ensuring you have resources available. Your expected go-live schedule should be communicated to all stakeholders to ensure the right teams are in place to manage UAT testing as soon as you are able to begin. This will ensure your deployment stays on schedule, and keep any cost overruns to a minimum.
Lastly – there’s Parallel Testing. This is your administrator’s opportunity to ensure the system is working by comparing the results of the calculations of the new system with known results from the old. This is the final step in the lifecycle of testing (and a previous system!). Once you’re confident the new system is working well it is time to decommission the old one.
You should customize the test schedule and stages based on your organization’s needs, resources, and unique project needs.
Of course, the purpose of testing is to locate potential defects or issues before the system goes live. An equally important component of this is having a good defect tracking system in place before you begin.
Here are 4 things to consider when evaluating your defect tracking process:
- Your tool should meet the needs of the business users and implementation team
- It should be simple to use and easy to learn for new users
- It should have a good notification system so that nothing gets missed
- It should allow for robust reporting based on category, priority, etc
Building a proper test schedule takes time, budget, and resources, and it’s often overlooked or hastily completed. Understanding the data, resource, and environment requirements for each type of testing is your first step to ensuring your implementation deploys smoothly. Identify stakeholders for each stage early to ensure their availability, and use a simple efficient tool for tracking any defects and establish a well-defined migration process. Once your Sales Performance Management system has been fully tested you should plan the replacement of your previous solution and communicate the expectations broadly so everyone is on the same page.
If you have questions about establishing proper test procedures, or need assistance building your roadmap, reach out to Intangent today – our expert team is available to ensure your implementation stays on track and your Incentive Compensation Management deployment is a success. You can also watch a recording of the webinar.