Cost-effective testing with open source tools in an SAP environment
The energy transition is in full swing. The future belongs to renewable energy, with decentralized production: consumers can also act as producers. To be ready for the future, all players in the energy market must radically adapt their systems. This includes Eneco, a pioneer in the sustainable transition. With software testing, they monitor the quality of their systems and integrations. With Brightest as a partner, Eneco goes for a cost-efficient approach based on open source tools.
Background: energy market in transition
The introduction of digital meters, increasing decentralized energy production, dynamic demand management and the need for transparency in a liberalized energy market led to the development of a new market model for the Belgian energy market. For this to work properly, the management of the gigantic amount of data is crucial. Atrias must improve the functioning of the Belgian energy market, simplify market processes and optimize the new market model.
Atrias is a federal clearinghouse - a consultation and exchange platform where all data come together and to which all market players are connected. Atrias also worked out MIG 6, the manual for the new generation of market processes. The goal: a less error-prone, more cost-efficient and customer-friendly operation of the energy market.
The transition affects the information systems at all parties involved in the energy market: energy suppliers, distribution system operators, the transmission system operator, producers, regulators. Everyone has to exchange data with Atrias. Consequently, much development and adaptation is required - including in the context of changing legislation and new offerings. The rapid succession of releases requires regression testing, because new features must not lead to bugs on what has already been developed.
Need for stability and quality
Eneco is the third largest energy supplier on the Belgian market. When implementing MIG6, it needed a stable and high-performance testing system. "As a pioneer of the energy transition, we bear a great responsibility", says Roel Matthys, manager of the Business Technology Organization. "Our systems must be there at all times. New developments and functions must be tested solidly and qualitatively."
Eneco was therefore looking for a new testing partner in 2019. "We also sent our request for proposal to Brightest, a sister company of TheValueChain in the Gumption group. They know our SAP environment inside out. Among other things, they are our service desk for SAP IS-Utilities and the financial modules FICA and FICO."
Brightest chose a 'simplicity' approach.
Manager of the Business Technology Organization
"All the other providers built their pitch around elaborate and complex tools," Roel explains. "Those sometimes make things unnecessarily difficult." Brightest opted for a "simplicity" approach. Not based on complicated systems but with open source solutions in function of our real needs. With a local Dutch-speaking team, they wanted to be short on time. In an agile development and testing environment, this is essential. The new test team went to work in June 2019."
Framework for test automation
"MIG 6 makes test automation a necessity," Roel continues. "We have new releases all the time. All systems must remain performant and reliable. Manual testing is out of the question. Therefore, with our testing partner we built a framework for test automation for all systems impacted by MIG 6: from SAP and Siebel to the apps on our employees' tablets. We define the scenarios for test automation with parameters such as: how often does the test occur, how critical is it, what is the priority of the project, what is the manual effort, how often do we expect modifications?"
"Setting up the testing framework required a lot of exchange of technical and business knowledge between Eneco, TheValueChain and Brightest. How do the data flows between the systems? How exactly are our systems impacted? How do we improve the efficiency and performance of the testing processes? It is an advantage to be able to work with partners who are in tune with each other and know their work area thoroughly."
Return on investment
"Business employees also notice the benefit of test automation", Roel continues. “They are closely involved in user acceptance testing. That is the last phase of the testing process before the application goes live. Users test the software against the real world. The testing framework takes over as many repetitive tasks as possible. The framework also serves as the basis for all testing projects in the future. As a result, the return on investment will continue for years to come.”
The fact that you're talking to business leaders who have been consultants themselves makes consultation so much easier.
Manager of the Business Technology Organization
"Today Brightest is adding value to all MIG 6 testing at Eneco Belgium. In a partnership, I look for flexibility, drive and transparency. Willingness to listen to needs. Thinking in solutions and making quick decisions. I also very much believe in empowering teams. The fact that you talk to business leaders who have been consultants themselves makes consultation so much easier. This allows us with Eneco to continue to focus on our core business: making the Belgian energy market more sustainable. Thanks to well-functioning and solid systems, we can completely unburden our customers."