Test automation in an agile business intelligence project

BiG EVAL test automation enables digital photo specialist Ifolor AG to implement its business intelligence solution in short, effi cient release cycles, while simultaneously ensuring high data quality.

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Sören Schubert from Ifolor AG shows practical uses of BiG EVAL

An agile business intelligence project

In replacing its old business intelligence system, Ifolor AG’s goals were to achieve a greater customer focus and to create a platform that could meet the company’s future needs.

Together with business intelligence specialists IT-Logix AG, an agile project culture has been established that has proved its worth to both the developers and the system’s users. This culture comprises not only methods and processes, but also tools that enable the effective use of these methods and processes.

Microsoft business intelligence stack

Ifolor AG’s business intelligence system landscape comprises a Microsoft SQL Server-based data warehouse, which is mainly supplied by data from two instances of Microsoft Dynamics AX as well as web tracking and app store data. On top of this is a tabular analysis model with SQL Server Analysis Services, as well as Microsoft Power BI, Reporting Services, and Excel as frontend tools.

The challenge of short release cycles

Agile implementation of a business intelligence system requires a high degree of automation in order to be able to deliver releases to the various departments in short intervals. Both the development and the testing of the system components must therefore be smooth and efficient. Accordingly, Ifolor AG decided to utilize two automation solutions: TimeXtender for implementing the DWH and ETL, and BiG EVAL for test automation.

Test automation with BiG EVAL ensures data quality

Ifolor AG has used BiG EVAL software to automate several test cases that compare and validate data from the staging area, the core data warehouse, and the tabular model against the data from the source systems. This ensures that, during the ETL process, no data sets are lost, corrupted, or duplicated due to implementation errors – all of which are problems that most ETL developers face.

Both during implementation and with the publication of each new release, BiG EVAL’s test cases assure Ifolor AG’s developers that functions from previous releases continue to operate correctly (regression tests) and that new requirements have been implemented in a stable and reliable manner.

What previously needed to be validated manually each time can now be handled on a schedule and at the press of a button – in a matter of minutes.

Validation of indicators on multiple aggregate levels

In order to also check aggregate figures in the tabular model, Ifolor AG uses BiG EVAL’s scripting functionality. Matrixes are first prepared from both the tabular model and the ERP, in which multiple indicators are grouped by product, sales region, and month. A BiG EVAL test case then compares the individual cell values and shows exactly where differences have been found.

About Ifolor AG

Ifolor AG makes it possible for people to relive their most beautiful moments through personalized photo products. The company’s range includes high-quality products such as photo books, photo calendars, photo greeting cards, wall decorations, photo gifts, and photos. Founded in 1961, the Swiss family-owned business employs approximately 270 people and generates more than CHF 100 million in annual sales. Ifolor AG operates in fifteen countries and is the market leader in Switzerland and Finland. Its high-quality products are manufactured at its headquarters in Kreuzlingen am Bodensee, Switzerland, as well as in Kerava, Finland

Nikola PerićIfolor AG – Test automation in an agile business intelligence project