May 17, 2020

Why supply chain managers should consider cloud-based UAT

Cloud-based UAT
Supply Chain Technology
Dale Benton
3 min
Why supply chain managers should consider cloud-based UAT
Memo to SCM pros: Its no longer your fathers Supply Chain Management. Yesterdays SCM paradigm of small teams working in the same location, with long wai...

Memo to SCM pros: It’s no longer your father’s Supply Chain Management. Yesterday’s SCM paradigm of small teams working in the same location, with long waits between releases, is obsolete. Today’s agile SCM world must work with constant release cycles, multinational test users working in different languages and time zones, unpredictable market conditions, and many more touch points. To keep SCM processes responsive, frequent change has become the norm - and efficient, timely User Acceptance Testing (UAT) the key to user buy-in and adoption of these changes.

So where does this put traditional, onsite, Excel-based, manual UAT? Frankly, when compared to sophisticated yet easy-to-use cloud-based solutions, in history’s dustbin. Here are four reasons why, in the face of rapid change, cloud-based UAT enables change while the traditional version actually impedes it.


1  Skill-deficient testers vs smart UAT

It takes real professional testing skills to not only carry out testing in the course of system changes, but also to know what should be tested in the first place. But in traditional UAT paradigms, testing prioritization, decision making, and legwork are often left to company employees. Now, they may be experts in their own fields and knowledgeable in the businesses processes involved, but they remain users, not testing professionals. Errors could go unnoticed, or detected too late in the testing process.

On the other hand, cloud-based UAT brings simplicity, quality, and agility to all ERP changes. It delivers smart impact analysis, determining or excluding possible errors to ensure that changes to the SCM system can be implemented.

2 Outdated testing scenarios vs constant relevance

Putting testing of system changes in employees’ hands, as traditional UAT does, poses a very real danger when these employees leave the company. UAT test scripts and libraries that have to be manually adapted during functionality changes won’t be - resulting in inaccurate testing scenarios that waste time and cause downtime.

Cloud-based UAT works even when no test script or test library expert is available. This means that SCM applications can always remain up to date and relevant. At the same time, the test center provides control and transparency - keeping responsible employees constantly informed about test scope and status.

3 Employee burden vs better resource usage

Traditional UAT inflicts a burden on company employees responsible for testing. Besides lacking testing expertise, they also have other serious responsibilities and therefore lack the time and capacity to run manual test scenarios regularly and cover all scenarios. Under-motivated or over-burdened testers can seriously impact testing quality, number of tests run, and overall employee performance.

On the other hand, cloud-based UAT frees up resources so employees can increase their focus on core SCM processes. By covering all possible test scenarios (including those that occur regularly), storing all known processes, and continually learning, advanced cloud-based UAT solutions identify potential problems early on and adapt changes accordingly.

4 Hesitancy vs readiness to upgrade

Change to stable systems is always risky. Because SCM is so central to core organizational goals, companies are often reluctant to upgrade. The burdens of traditional UAT, a vital component of any upgrade, compound this hesitancy and increase the risk of “technical debt.” (Technical debts are problems that occur due to software that’s poorly applied on a technical level. This happens when companies don’t install all support packages.) The consequence of technical debts? Everything from unpredictable errors in the SCM system to systemic faults that affect the whole production process.

Meanwhile, SCM professionals who turn to advanced cloud-based UAT tools - with all their advantages - can be confident in embracing and enabling change, rather than complicating it. By replacing outdated and resource-intensive manual UAT with agile cloud-based tools, they can streamline their SCM upgrades while avoiding unplanned downtime and delays in the supply chain.


By Rafi Kretchmer, VP of Marketing, Panaya


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Jun 11, 2021

NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience

6 min
Joey Dean, Managing Director of healthcare consulting at NTT DATA Services, shares remodelling strategies for more resilient supply chains

Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.

The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.

A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach

“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.

“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.

But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?

“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.

Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes

So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry

“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality. 

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”

Evolving Procurement Models 

From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view. 

“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.

“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”

“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”

But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?

“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.

The Challenges

These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.

On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”

He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”

As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”


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