During one session I attended at the ASAE Tech Conference, the issue arose of testing in the AMS during implementation.

Testing is a key step during the implementation of a new AMS. After all, you either test the system before you launch it (with test case scenarios, discussed below) or you test it in real-time with actual member and customer data (and all its attendant risk). Which approach would you prefer?

Develop test case scenarios

The simplest and best approach to testing is to develop “test case scenarios.” These are simple narrative outlines of processes that you do on a regular or semi-regular basis with your data. Examples of test case titles might include:

  • adding a new member
  • renewing an existing member
  • registering an individual for an event
  • canceling an event registration
  • processing a refund
  • and so on

To develop test case scenarios, identify the different functional areas in your association (e.g., membership, events, exhibits, sponsorship, donations, product sales, etc.) and within each of those functional areas, outline the different processes that are required for managing the data.

With each process, write up a short narrative. For example, the narrative for “adding a new member” might be “Sue Jones has mailed in a check on January 15, 2012, for $85 to join as a regular member. Her complete contact information is…”

Once you’ve written up your scenarios, you’re ready to test. As you work through each scenario, testers should make notes of anything “unusual” that occurs during the process. This is to ensure that the results of the processes are what the association expects. Sometimes these results may look wrong but are actually correct. Other times they may actually be wrong. In any case, we note the “unusual” events in order to check if the results are what we expect.

Testing is time intensive and tedious, but extremely important to a successful AMS launch. And as I noted at the beginning, you can test before your system is live, or after. But either way, you’ll be testing!