When it comes to implementing or upgrading enterprise-level billing systems, testing is always good. No one wants an ugly surprise that significantly impacts valuable business intelligence data, the daily workflow, or the bottom line. And yet, the most common point of failure in billing software implementations is a lack of testing.
We get it. It’s tempting to want to get that new software up, running, and making good on its ROI as quickly as possible. However, neglecting the crucial QA testing step can cost you. Big time. You potentially risk more expense in time and money, time. You potentially risk more expense in time and money, jeopardize your data’s integrity, and potentially disrupt any customizations you’ve come to depend on.
In short, testing is critical to achieving a successful, high-performing financial system.
There’s testing, and there’s TESTING.
When it comes to performance testing, there are two types: user acceptance testing (UAT) and quality assurance (QA) testing. It’s easy to mistake UAT for QA, and most firms do. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are quite distinct and affect your IT environment very differently. Both are necessary for a rock-solid go-live.
As IT experts, we’re always pleased to see any form of testing taking place; something is always better than nothing! However, when it comes to the implementation of enterprise-level billing or practice management software like Thomson Reuter’s Elite 3E, we recommend QA testing over UAT. To help you understand why, here are answers to some of the most common QA testing questions we receive from our clients.
Question 1: What’s the difference between UAT and QA testing?
Answer: Both are forms of performance testing. They help determine if all is well before making a new platform live. The difference is that UAT focuses on the end-user’s experience and is usually done in-house. The ultimate goal is to see if the experience and interface operate as expected in the new system. For example, a UAT might involve choosing 100 matters in the old and new system and comparing results to make sure the users’ needs and expectations are met.
QA, on the other hand, is a thorough and systematic testing process that includes detailed documentation. It tests every form, field, and function, capturing each step via screen-prints and written records. It employs tests cases to mimic daily business processes and see how a new platform really functions. It’s a detailed, inch-by-inch examination of the new system that unearths problems, incompatibilities, and inconsistencies before your business relies on it.
In other words, QA testing asks the question, “Does the system operate properly?”, whereas UAT asks, “Does my client/matter/vendor/ bill still look right?” Both are legitimate concerns, but on very different levels.
Question 2: How does QA testing impact implementations and upgrades?
Answer: QA testing is the most important part of an implementation or upgrade!
Paradoxically, it’s usually left to the client to complete in-house. This makes the most important aspect of the implementation the most commonly neglected. It also puts this important work in the hands of the back-office employees who excel at running their firms but may not have any QA testing experience, causing the effort to go underestimated and underperformed.
If done properly, QA testing will consist of testing the functional components of the system as well as testing the performance of the system through automated load scenarios, like your typical month/year-end usage. We call this a soak test. Understanding how your system performs under load is critical to ensuring a smooth go-live and guaranteeing happy users. Imagine going live only for the system to grind to a halt because of a memory leak in the application that could have been avoided by conducting a simple soak test. Painful, isn’t it?
Ironically, the lack of a thorough QA process is the number one cause of implementation failure. Doesn’t that make you stop and think?
Question 3: How does QA testing impact usability?
Answer: QA testing is designed to keep usability on an even keel during and after the implementation of a new system. By scrutinizing the system before its launch, your firm can eliminate risk, uncertainty, and doubt. The system functions as expected on day one, giving you peace of mind and your firm uninterrupted workflow.
Question 4: You mentioned test cases. What are they and why are they important?
Answer: Every organization has a set of common, regularly used business processes. QA testing includes running these processes in every way imaginable to ensure the new software/system works correctly. A test case is one scenario capturing one of these business processes. Thorough QA tests require a test case for each major process in each functional area of a business. That’s a lot of test cases. And yet, without them, there’s no way to know how a new system will respond to its workload.
Question 5: Does QA testing apply to ANY new billing software?
Answer: Yes. Many of our clients use Thomson Reuters products, like Elite 3E and ProLaw, but the QA testing process is not limited to any specific system. Our team welcomes new platforms, as it allows us to hone our processes and protocols.
Bringing QA testing to your firm
As you can imagine, QA testing is very intense and time consuming. Yet, investing in this process allows firms to reap huge benefits, such as:
- Reducing risk
- Eliminating costly go-live failures (common for firms that don’t QA test)
- Thoroughly documenting systems
- Mitigating disruption
- Safeguarding investments
- Sidestepping costly delays
Want to kick these benefits up a notch? Bring in the Helm360 QA Testing Team.
We have a full-time team of experts who specialize in QA testing. Most IT consulting firms do not! As mentioned before, both UAT and QA testing are usually left to the client, causing it to be neglected and/or underperformed. Our QA Testing Team offers a cost-effective solution to firms who want to ensure their new system is implemented properly.
Here’s what our team offers:
- Full-time QA testing experts
- A centrally-coordinated effort
- An extensive test case library of already built, known business processes
- An on-shore/off-shore hybrid delivery model that maximizes daily productivity and minimizes stress on your servers; most testing happens while you sleep!
- Scrutiny of your system and customizations by an independent outside party
- Verification of your applications’ setups and customizations
The key takeaway is this: Our team enables the critical QA testing process to take place without burdening your in-house team, your equipment, or your daily workflow. You and your team are free to run day-to-day operations and focus on growing your practice, all the while knowing there will be a smooth transition to the new system.
One more note: Performance testing is not troubleshooting. Again, performance testing is a holistic dive into the inner workings of your entire billing system. It’s focused on the overall performance and long-term functioning of your application. Troubleshooting, by contrast, is a focused look at a one-off issue. Our Helm360 QA Testing Team incorporates a stress test into its QA testing process that can highlight an area in need of troubleshooting. The fundamental goal of a thorough performance test is to identify these areas well ahead of going live so they can be addressed by tweaks to the custom code, core product, or infrastructure.
Adopting and/or implementing new software is a big move. And yet, it’s a necessary — and recurring! — event needed to keep your business moving forward. QA testing minimizes uncertainty and maximizes functionality. It’s a key part of optimizing your investment and buying yourself some peace of mind.
Want to learn more about QA testing or connect with the Helm360 QA Testing Team? Contact us! Our experts are happy to answer questions, give more in-depth QA testing information, and schedule one-on-one consultations.