As one of the world’s largest and most admired manufacturers, quality, speed, and precision are essential to 3M’s success. In 2011, the company began planning and implementing a massive SAP environment. Over the next few years 3M built a library of over 900 tests to ensure frequent changes in its new SAP landscape wouldn’t disrupt critical business processes. By 2015, 61 resources and 30-weeks were required to run all tests manually. The need for automation was clear.
3M is a $30 billion manufacturing company with 88,000 employees in more than 65 countries. The company was founded in 1902, and now produces more than 55,000 products, including: adhesives, abrasives, laminates, medical products, electronic materials, and more.
The Shift from Manual to Automated
Worksoft automation provides quality assurance for applications across the enterprise landscape. This end-to-end (E2E) approach enables automation engineers to test processes that cross the large ecosystem of applications connected to SAP – something 3M required with a wide variety of modules running and managing its core businesses.
3M’s journey to automation success followed a phased strategy. After adopting Worksoft and assembling a team, the next step was to identify frequently executed manual regression tests. The newly formed team spoke with the employees responsible for manual testing to assess scope and coverage, relying heavily on Worksoft’s capture technology. This technology discovers and documents business processes from the end user’s perspective by capturing every keystroke and click as employees perform normal daily tasks. This helped guide and focus much of the work for testing resources during the transition to automation.
By the second half of 2016, automation had significantly reduced the duration of regression test execution. In addition to cutting testing times by 30% or more, the organization also decreased its dependency on subject matter experts (SMEs) by 85 percent. The newly automated inventory tests for example, took approximately 3.5 hours vs. 540 hours for the previous manual tests!
The Right Team
The engagement of key business stakeholders played a big role in 3M’s automation success. Onsite workshops were particularly effective tools for initiating this knowledge transfer. With Worksoft, they now had clearly documented business processes which were critical in establishing standards for measuring the success of automation.
Getting the automation team involved with project leaders across geographies accelerated 3M’s success with automation. The automation team worked with a diverse group of SMEs to map and understand E2E business processes throughout the company. Cross-functional and intra-team training also helped build their knowledge of process areas and automated E2E scenarios.
Here are a few of the biggest factors that contributed to 3M’s automation success:
- Using manual tests as a guide for automation
- Holding onsite workshops
- Securing support from senior leadership
- Maintaining patience and focus
- Engaging in frequent communication with business stakeholders, especially during ramp up
- Establishing master data parameters
Combined with the onsite workshops and support from leadership, the company quickly became proficient and confident with automation – not to mention the time and cost savings they continue to realize from this investment. Adopting automation enabled 3M to execute cross-functional, automated tests for SAP applications that bring value to the business with quality and accuracy across order-to-cash, sales, materials management, and finance business processes.
Interested in learning more about 3M’s journey to automation? Mary Kida, IT Manager at 3M sat down with ASUGtv at SAPPHIRE NOW to chat about why 3M turned to automation – and how it reduces the amount of time and number of resources required for testing. You can watch the video here. You can also view their presentation from the show.