West Sussex County Council provides services for residents, business and visitors throughout the West Sussex region, and has a gross annual spending of £1.2bn. As part of an ongoing cost reduction exercise, the Council was undertaking a number of changes to its internal processes supported by upgrades and expansion of its existing SAP systems.
The changes included reducing the number of paths for purchasing and concentrating the processes within a core team, introducing a self-service portal for employee information and manager approvals, and a range of business warehouse reports. This work also coincided with moving the applications to a new infrastructure. The following interrelated systems were included in the program : SAP Enterprise Portal, Citrix NetScaler for secure network load balancing, ERP Core Components (ECC), Business Warehouse (BW), Procurement (SRM and MDM) and Employee and Manager Self Service for HR and pay (ESS and MSS)
Acutest prepared a Performance Test Plan to address the specific needs of the ISAP programme. A Risk-based Testing approach was adopted to focus on the areas of greatest perceived risk and to work within the available budget and timeframe.
The key areas for testing were:
- Internal purchasing, which had a major software upgrade
- Employee self-service, which would introduce a major new user base
The tests simulated a target user load of 3000 (representing a third of the WSCC self service user base making concurrent access) and 25 users (representing a third of the central purchasing team making concurrent access), simulating a day's work for a sustained period of 1 day. HP Performance Centre’s “Software as a Service” (SaaS) was used for the load / performance test tool suite, which allowed licence costs and set up time to be significantly reduced.
Acutest quickly identified a failure of a purchasing subsystem under load, as well as a number of SAP and NetScaler tuning/configuration issues.
SAP and NetScaler tuning is a complex area, and a key benefit was our ability to support the problem diagnosis efforts by repeating the tests multiple times as and when required. This significantly reduced the elapsed time to re-configure and optimise SAP to enable WSCC to meet their target load successfully prior to go live.