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At the annual DSAG (the german ASUG chapter) meeting Jim Hagemann Snabe announced the customer engagement initiative: This initiative gives SAP customers the possibility to validate prototypes and beta versions

and to discuss functional and non-functional requirements. This is a big chance for SAP as well as for customers: customers can influence SAP development ad SAP learns what customers need - so it's win-win situation for both.

This week I was able two spend to days testing a framework that was introduced at this year's SAP TechEd. I'm was honored because I was chosen to test some new features that have been developed within the last sprints of the Scrum project.

So the whole test process is well prepared:

  • My stay in Walldorf (hotel, lunch etc.) was well planned.
  • I had test users on various systems. There are test cases that guide you through the test process as part of test workbench.
  • I could contact developers in the case you can't explain the system's behaviour.
  • There are feedback rounds in which some the test results and requirements are discussed.

I think the agile Scrum approach the ABAP development team chose is very helpful because it makes it possible to get customers feedback at a defined point in time. With classical approaches like the waterfall model you can't react to suggestions and requirements of customers quickly.

Why should people take part at customer engagement initiative?

At the moment I'm working as enterprise and software architect but I've been a developer for a long time. I tried to do my best to write good software but it was always difficult to know whether customers would really like a special feature or not. So customer feedback is really important.

So I was really motivated to be a tester and to give feedback. Fortunately it was easy to convince my line manager: The tools I should test are really important for our business and so he approved that my test in Walldorf. For me this decision is absolutely clear: we can't complain about weaknesses of SAP products - we should use our chance to give feedback at an early stage, give constructive feedback and help to improve by giving feedback. SAP is ready to take a chance on it and so should we, too.

What makes a good tester?

This is a hard question. I  have to confess that I have no experience in software testing but I'm loving challenges. I don't know whether I did my job well - but these are my thoughts:

  • Try to prepare for the test. Collect your experience with the tools and think about what can be improved.
  • Be creative: chasing bugs is an ambitious task. If you detect errors you should try to find a way to reproduce them.
  • Think about further requirements, perhaps compliance aspects. Prioritize your requirements.
  • When looking for improvements try to find constructive solutions.

What makes a good test manager?

I'm no test manager and so I have to admit that this questions is even harder to answer the  question above. But I think the test managers at SAP did quite a good job and so two things came to me mind which I will explain right now.

I think preparation of test cases is really important. I was able to process test cases very efficiently because there have been reports that created them from eCATT test data containers. I think this something a lot of software developers and develop architects: if you want to achieve quality and reduce maintenance costs then you have to prepare a test environment. With this environment you can quickly set up test scenarios quickly and this will help you a lot.

Try to find a diverse team of testers: practitioners stress on completely different things compared domain experts or solution architects who are interested in extensible and flexible solutions for example.

And what did I test?

Sorry, but details are under NDA. But if you are reading my blog and took part at my last SAP Mentor Webinar about Enterprise Services on SAP Mentor Monday you won't be surprised that this is about Enterprise SOA. And I promise I'll blog about it as soon it is released.

Last but not least I have to thank Christoph Gollmick from SAP and the development team for making this possible.