Csm Eneco 55127dcdc7
CASE Jul 23, 2021

Eneco: cost-efficient testing with open-source tools in an SAP environment

Aurelie Favresse

The energy transition is in full swing. The future belongs to sustainable energy, with decentralised production: consumers, too, can be producers. So, to be ready for the future, all players in the energy market have to make radical changes to their systems.

Background: energy market in transition
The introduction of digital meters, the increasingly decentralised energy production, dynamic demand and the need for transparency in a liberalised energy market have resulted in the development of a new market model for the Belgian energy market. To ensure its proper functioning, the management of the enormous amount of data involved is crucial. The company tasked with improving the functioning of the Belgian energy market, simplifying market processes and optimising the new market model is Atrias.

Atrias is a federal clearinghouse – a consultation and exchange platform where all data comes together and to which all market parties are connected. Atrias also developed MIG6, the manual for the new generation of market processes. The aim: a less error-prone, more cost-efficient and more customer-friendly functioning of the energy market.

The transition affects the information systems of all parties involved in the energy market: energy suppliers, distribution network managers, the transmission network manager, producers and regulators. Everyone has to exchange data with Atrias. That means a lot of development work and changes to be made, including changing legislation and new offerings. The quick succession of releases calls for regression testing because new features should not create bugs in previously developed software.

Need for stability and quality
Eneco is the third-largest energy supplier in the Belgian market. For the implementation of MIG6, the company needed a stable, high-performing testing system. “As a pioneer of the energy transition, we have a big responsibility,” says Roel Matthys, the Business Technology Organisation manager. “Our systems have to be operational 24/7. Any new developments and functions have to be tested thoroughly, to an exacting standard.”

So, in 2019, Eneco went looking for a new testing partner. “We also sent our request for proposal to Brightest, a sister company of TheValueChain in the Gumption group. TheValueChain knows our SAP environment inside out. For instance, they are our service desk for SAP IS-Utilities and the financial modules FICA and FICO, among other things.”

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Cost-efficient approach
“All other providers built their pitches around extensive, complex tools,” Roel explains. “These sometimes make things unnecessarily difficult. Brightest opted for a ‘simplicity’ approach. Not based on complicated systems but with open-source solutions tailored to our actual needs. With a locally-based Dutch-speaking team, they aimed to anticipate and respond quickly to changes. That’s crucial in an agile development and test environment. The new test team got to work in June 2019.”

Framework for test automation
“MIG6 has made test automation a necessity,” Roel continues. “We constantly have new releases. All systems must continue to operate optimally and reliably. Manual testing is not an option. That’s why, together with our testing partner, we built a framework for test automation for all systems affected by MIG6: from SAP and Siebel to the apps on our employees’ tablets. We create the scenarios for test automation using parameters such as: how often does the test occur, how critical is it, what is the priority of the project, how much manual effort is involved, how often do we expect changes?”

“The setup of the testing framework required a considerable exchange of technical and business knowledge between Eneco, TheValueChain and Brightest. How do the data streams flow between the systems? How exactly are our systems affected? How do we improve the efficiency and performance of the test processes? It’s an advantage to be able to work with partners who are in tune with each other and who have an in-depth knowledge of their fields.”

Return on investment
“The company’s employees have also noticed the benefit of test automation,” Roel goes on. “They are closely involved in the user acceptance testing. That’s the final phase in the test process before the application goes live. Users test the software in real-life scenarios. The testing framework takes over as many repetitive tasks as possible. The framework also serves as a basis for all future test projects. That means this investment will continue to pay off for years to come.”

“Today Brightest brings added value to all MIG6 testing at Eneco Belgium. The qualities I look for in a partnership are flexibility, drive and transparency. A willingness to listen to the needs of the business. Solution-oriented thinking and quick decision-making. I also strongly believe in the empowerment of teams. The fact that we are dealing with managers with a consultant background makes the consultation process so much easier. This allows us, at Eneco, to focus on our core business: to continue to make the Belgian energy market more sustainable. Thanks to high-performing, solid systems, we are able to provide a hassle-free service to our customers.”

This article was first published in Gumption Snapshot Magazine. Order your own free copy! https://gumption-snapshot.eu

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