Two captains on one ship to rule the waves

It seems like a bad idea having two test managers in one project. However, in the SHARE program at copier manufacturer RICOH two men at the steering wheel kept the ship on course by bringing together a top-down – and a bottom-up focus. SHARE is an European roll-out of an ERP system. It is implemented in Operating Countries (OpCos) in 20 countries to achieve overall business benefits, like establishing a uniform product & services portfolio, – way of working, – reporting, and enabling the use of shared service centres. The main driver behind this all is cost reduction in the operation. This roll-out program needs to be kept in control.

Therefore, not all OpCos go live at once, but gradually in “waves”. In each wave an acceptance test (AT) is organized to prove that the “basic business processes” flow fluently through the ERP systems – from sales to accounting – with the local data. For each OpCo in a wave, key users from all departments of participate in the AT. The top-down focus in AT is assuring that the generic functionality works with the local data. However, local practices and – legislation cannot be denied. So, to ensure fast and easy roll-out, we must prove the fit of the ERP system to the specific local needs.
How do we achieve a fast, easy and well-received roll-out? An approach with one test set with a clear ranking in priority, and two test managers; an overall – and local ones.

How does this work?

  1. Starting point is that the pan European test scenarios take priority over local test scenarios. This enables a clear division of roles and responsibilities between local and overall test manager.
  2. Overall test manager focuses on defect management and progress of the pan European test scenarios and local test manager focuses on resource issues and progress of the local test scenarios.
  3. Local test scenarios are created in test scenario workshops, and assessed by means of a paper SIT before execution in AT.

Why does it work?

  1. The OpCo does not want the central standard to be pushed through their throat. The local test manager can be voice of local unit. This will lead to better acceptance.
  2. The OpCo must participate in End-to-End business process scenarios. The local test manager can work to achieve commitment, willingness to participate, and local sign-off.
  3. Project risks related to resourcing are easier managed locally than centrally.

The successful implementation of SHARE in nearly all of planned countries right now, shows that two captains on one ship to rule the waves doesn’t seem to be a bad idea after all.


About the Author

Arjan Stelenpool

Arjan Steltenpool is an experienced test consultant who has worked for CGI since 1998. He performed as a test manager for Ricoh Netherlands, and at the moment he performs in the same role for Ricoh Belgium / Luxemburg. He is also a trainer of different test courses. The aspects of working in software testing that Arjan really finds important are teamwork, creativity and well-considered communication.

About the Author


Arjan Steltenpool (1970, The Netherlands) is an experienced test consultant who has worked for CGI since 1998. Currently, he is product owner of a DevOps test automation team at pension provider APG. DevOps way of working, test automation and Test Data Management have his special interest. The aspects of working in software testing that Arjan really finds important are teamwork, entrepreneurship and well-considered communication. This comes forward in the blogs he posts on EuroStar Huddle; e.g. about an alternative way of leading an UAT in large ERP implementations, and Test Data Management: Organisational and Technical Challenges.  
Find out more about @arjan-steltenpool