Addressing Oracle EPM Cloud Update Challenges with Continuous Test Automation

August 11, 2021
Sohaib Zaidi

As the ongoing support of on-premise Oracle Hyperion EPM is going to end in December 2021, enterprises using it have the option to migrate to Oracle EPM Cloud. Apart from offering numerous benefits like low cost of ownership, data security, real-time access to data, scalability, and flexibility, Oracle EPM also offers the promise of continuous innovation with its monthly releases. Each month, Oracle releases a list of updates to each of the products in the EPM Cloud Suite to help enterprises to streamline their business processes.

Undoubtedly, the benefits of Oracle EPM Cloud monthly updates are countless – new features, functionality, & bug fixes, however, they come at a cost and responsibility. Anyone responsible for managing and supporting Oracle EPM Cloud Apps running within a business needs to understand the importance of “testing”. In fact, IT managers who’re responsible for management and support of Oracle EPM Cloud apps need to “continuously test” the “monthly Oracle EPM Cloud updates” to ensure that updates have not inadvertently introduced bugs or code-changes will not have a negative impact on system performance or user experience.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of testing during Oracle EPM Cloud updates. We’ll also discuss the challenges that IT Managers/ Testing Managers could face during Oracle EPM cloud testing. We’ll discuss how “OpKey” as “Continuous Test Automation” platform will address these challenges.

Understanding Oracle EPM Cloud Monthly Updates

Oracle EPM Cloud monthly updates consist of a patch containing bug fixes, code optimization, and feature updates. The patch is usually done on the first Friday of the month for test environments during the next daily maintenance window. Patches for production environments are done on the third Friday of the month.

Monthly Update Schedule

  • Test Environments: Oracle will apply this monthly update during the first Friday of the month. In case of this month (as-of writing this blog), it will occur at or after 22:00 UTC on Friday, August 6, 2021.
  • Production Environments: Oracle will apply this monthly update during the third Friday of the month. In case of this month, it will occur at or after 22:00 UTC on Friday, August 20, 2021.

Why there is a need of Oracle EPM Cloud Monthly Updates testing?

Oracle EPM Cloud Monthly updates have the potential to affect a variety of functionalities. If you’ve chosen to turn on a new feature, you need to understand how that feature is going to impact current business processes and procedures. There is a possibility that a new bug could be introduced – or, a fix to a bug could have a negative impact on your business processes. Since downstream problems could have major implications for operational efficiency, even small changes need to be tested. It is recommended that enterprises should validate critical reports, key workflow approvals, as well as critical integrations with other applications during updates to prevent business disruptions.

What should you test?

  • Test all critical business functions before the patches go into Production.
  • Test key business process flows for different roles in the organization.
  • Critical custom reports and Integrations with other applications.
  • Custom workflows. (journal, invoice, PO approval, etc.)
  • Automatically available UI and process new features that will apply to you.

However, Oracle Cloud EPM Testing is Complicated, Challenging & Chaotic

[A] Covering generic issues

Though manual testing is still prevalent, it cannot be considered as a viable solution since you would struggle to achieve the required levels of testing speed and accuracy to keep pace with Oracle EPM Cloud monthly updates. Given below are reasons why the manual testing approach cannot be considered a viable solution.

  • Monthly Releases – Doing regression testing manually at least 12 times/year to perform functional and technical analysis for each Oracle EPM Cloud release to understand its impact on the environment is not a viable solution.
  • Short Testing Window – Organizations get only two weeks’ time to execute testing, analyse the results, & validate critical business processes for stability of EPM Apps. Manually doing this across the length and breadth of EPM ecosystem can be challenging.
  • Inadequate Resources – Enterprises often struggle to test EPM cloud because of the amount of time and resources required along with hardware needed for proper testing.
  • Inaccuracy – Manual testing can negatively impact business continuity because of its inability to scan and identify patterns impacting business processes’ performance.
  • Less Agility – Enterprises often spend 50% or more of their time in preparing for testing on activities like organizing hardware, deploying application test environments and testing tools, etc., rather than actually testing the apps, leading to higher risks and lower application quality.

In a scenario, when enterprises need to test Oracle EPM Cloud Apps 12 times a year, manual testing is unfeasible. Apart from this, inadequate test coverage, inability to identify impacted areas, and human errors can lead to business disruption, if manual testing is performed.

[B] Covering technical aspects

Enterprises that want to bring in test automation need to analyse technical aspect of Oracle EPM Cloud Apps testing.

  • Dynamic Tabs – Oracle EPM Cloud testing is challenging because pages contain internal tabs that control the table and fields visible under the tab.
  • Dynamic Locators – Oracle EPM Cloud Apps consist of dynamic elements that don’t have fixed attributes like ID, name, Class, or CSS. Minor changes in the UI can lead to test failures, & build failures.
  • Script Maintenance – Oracle releases monthly updates. In case, test scripts don’t automatically adapt the changes, it will lead to test inability. Navigation change, object change, and meta-data change can lead to inconsistent test results, if test scripts are not updated for these changes.
  • E2E Integration Testing – Oracle EPM cloud Apps are highly customizable and can be integrated seamlessly with third party applications. During updates, there are chances that these integrations and customizations get broken.

Selenium cannot be considered as a right-fit tool for test automation because of its limitations to identify dynamic elements. Selenium uses element properties like ID, Name, Class, CSS, XPath, etc to identify controls on the screen. However, in case of Oracle EPM Cloud, the apps changes dynamically.

Apart from keeping the above-given points in mind, enterprises need to realize that more frequent updates means more frequent testing. And, testing comes at a certain cost as you need resources as well as a test environment to test Oracle EPM Applications that can be a costly preposition. You need a solution that not only delivers real-time change updates but also accelerates execution while keeping a cost preposition in check.

Our Solution – OpKey’s Continuous Test Automation for Oracle EPM Cloud

We recommend “OpKey” as a “Continuous Test Automation” solution that can perfectly address the above-mentioned challenges. OpKey comes with out-of-the-box 1500+ pre-configured test cases for Oracle EPM Cloud Apps, Self-configuration/ self-healing technology, enabling enterprises to easily verify all their patches, configuration changes, or updates. Customers can leverage OpKey’s EPM-based scripts to facilitate the adoption of an automated regression testing process to reduce the time it takes to complete regression testing each month.

OpKey comes with a built-in AI-driven impact analysis engine that analyses Oracle’s EPM Cloud monthly updates in real-time to track changes in the ERP ecosystem and autonomously creates optimum test models and scenarios for continuous testing of these updates. Leveraging Predictive Impact Analysis, OpKey alerts the users on the potential impact on their business processes with the EPM updates and also recommends tests to execute to cover those risks. With OpKey, enterprises can dramatically reduce their testing time as well as cost and empower non-testers to participate in the testing process.

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