21 Jun

Mindmaps in SAP Test Planning

I find mindmaps an awesome way to visualise and document ideas.  There’s a whole page dedicated to listing out the various ways that mindmaps can be used in general testing on the Ministry of Testing website here, but I thought I’d share a few of the ways that I use mindmaps in SAP test planning and preparation.

I use XMind as my application of choice (the free version has the features I need and it’s very user-friendly).

Test Strategy / Test Plan brainstorming
A lot of SAP test documentation can be quite formal – we’re usually working with clients and implementation partners that are very traditional in their approach. By using a mindmap at the start to scope out all the variables needed in your test strategy you can quickly and easily get to a point where you have a list of tasks/questions that can then either be confirmed or allocated.  The graphic below shows a test strategy mindmap in progress – it can easily be continued to include graphics to show what questions have been answered, or colour-coded to show allocation to certain teams for resolution (Data team, Integration team, PMO, etc).
The basic mindmap can be created in an hour or two and tasks allocated (or, at the very least, you know what questions you need to ask from which team). If you want to hit the ground running then by lunchtime you’ve got a fully-fledged list of open items that can be assessed for risk and timing and you can then start talking to the right people in the right risk order.  Compare this to the long laborious process of writing out a formal test strategy and there’s only one winner.

test_strategy_mindmapTest Strategy Mindmap

Integration flows through SAP and non-SAP systems
Complex landscapes often require a visual aid so that you can see the data flows between systems. The Integration or Architecture teams usually put some sort of one-pager together to show the scope and integration, but I prefer to complete one quickly myself in XMind – it helps to fix the integration points and third parties in my mind so that I am more effective when discussing third-party systems and interfaces.
The graphic below shows a simple integration landscape. This can be extended to show manual integration points (Master Data Management forms such as New/Change Customer form, New/Change Material form), key outbound reports, etc.  In a more complex system it can be copied into several sheets so that you have multiple sheets of the same landscape and then each sheet can be changed to show the integration points for different environments – for example, the first sheet would be your integration from SAP Dev to non-SAP Dev, the second sheet from SAP QA to non-SAP QA, and so on. This is particularly useful when you are running a 3- or 4-tier environment but your non-SAP systems only have 1- or 2-tier, as you can update the mindmap to show which of your clients are attached to which of your non-SAP systems.
The mindmap below has been created by adding floating topics and linking them through relationships, then colour-coding the relationships.  It’s not 100% technically accurate but it’s good enough to serve it’s purpose of visualising the data flows. I’ve also colour-coded to show which of the interfaces needs development on the non-SAP side, to help with determining the planning for integration testing with dependent projects.


Landscape Mindmap

Process and Scenario Structures
A third use is to use the rapid graphic capabilities to draw process and scenario structures.  MS Visio is equally as good if you have the relevant licences, XMind is a free alternative  🙂
You can fairly rapidly structure the scenario that you want to test, including notes on the data requirements for each level. In an integrated testing phase where the testers are across multiple streams it’s useful to have graphics showing them the detail of what the scenario is looking to achieve. This can then be printed and attached to the scenario, emailed to remote testing teams, or used as part of your test planning by including in a “test pack” for sending to business representatives for scenario confirmation.


Project Scenario Mindmap

Three simple uses for mindmaps in SAP test planning.