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An Introduction to ERP Sandbox Environments

Introduction

The retail industry is ever changing. To keep current, you’ll want to keep building up your tech stack to match the industry’s ebb and flow.

But you also don’t want to take unnecessary risks with your business.

Deploying new features and apps onto the very system that you run your business from can sometimes feel like exactly that – especially if they are unfamiliar.

What if you need to rollback? Changing your mind on a live system can severely disrupt your day to day operations leaving you with unplanned financial and operational hurdles to overcome.

This is where sandbox environments, especially an ERP sandbox environment, can help.

In light of the launch of Brightpearl’s Sandbox Environments, this article aims to answer the following questions:

  • What is a sandbox environment?

  • What are ERP sandbox environments?

  • Why do you need an ERP sandbox?

  • Who needs an ERP sandbox environment?

  • How can you get your own ERP sandbox?

What is a sandbox environment?

Sandboxing provides you with a full clone of your ERP platform and data set so that you and your team can build, test and deploy software, install new apps and plugins, test specific features and train staff without affecting live business data.

There are a whole host of technologies that benefit from sandbox environments including open source ecommerce websites like Magento, IT security solutions and cloud ERP.

What are ERP sandbox environments?

To dive a little deeper, it’s now possible to install and deploy sandbox environments specifically for your ERP solution.

An ERP sandbox provides you with a safe and secure exact duplicate of your current ERP system, so that you can – once again – stress test new features, apps, integrations and fixes without affecting live business data.

If you make any changes that don’t have the desired effect then they can easily be rolled back and refreshed, returning the sandbox to its original state.

Why you need an ERP sandbox

Without an ERP sandbox, your business is at risk.

From risks associated with third party apps to losing time and money due to live system rollbacks, here are the top four reasons why you need an ERP sandbox environment.

1. Unknown third party apps and integrations can cause more harm than good

Have you spotted a new ecommerce plugin you like the sound of? Does it promise to solve all your current business woes?

Without an ERP sandbox, you won’t be able to fully performance test new plugins, apps and integrations on a safe duplicate of your live system, leaving your business wide open to potential data issues, incompatible features and even data security risks.

2. You’re at risk of losing time and money

Not only does launching new plugins, apps and features present potential data issues if they’re untested, but rollbacks and rewriting updates on a live system is both costly and time consuming.

Instead, you can avoid issues and unforeseen circumstances with an ERP sandbox and save time and money in the long-run.

3. Untrained staff can wreak havoc on data quality

Would you allow untrained staff to speak with your customers? Would you give them editing access to your accounts data? I didn’t think so.

ERP systems have a lot of features, modules and underlying data affecting multiple areas, so they’re more at risk of untrained staff wreaking havoc than in any other area of your business – and it could take a long time to unpick their mistakes. Not to mention financial and customer data are the two most likely areas to be compromised.

An ERP sandbox provides you with the perfect environment with which to train employees on existing and new features ahead of deployment, ensuring they can hit the ground running.

While brand new staff can spend time in the sandbox environment, getting to grips with how it works and what actions impact what – without affecting live business data.

4. You’re missing out on the chance to adapt and innovate

How do businesses innovate? They test, adapt and test again until they find what works for them. An ERP sandbox provides your developers and staff with the freedom and flexibility to do just that.

From adapting processes and trialing new apps to testing newly learned skills and getting to grips with new features, creativity and innovation can flourish when you’re free to try out ideas and experiments, free from fear of consequences or the danger of upsetting live customer, product and financial data.

Who needs an ERP sandbox environment?

Although there are a large variety of use cases for an ERP sandbox, listed below are four of the most common scenarios for using one.

1. Ecommerce businesses using Magento and other open source platforms

Although there are many types of ecommerce business that can benefit from maintaining an ERP sandbox environment, Magento merchants in particular have great use for them.

This is because Magento is an open source platform, so you need to manage extensions, customizations and software updates yourself.

By virtualizing your Magento ERP integration, you’ll take out all of the stress that comes with testing OS patches, Magento upgrades and custom modules as you won’t affect the live business data that underpins your store in any way.

2. Magento businesses that haven’t yet migrated to Magento 2

Magento 1 end of life is well on its way to being a reality – in June 2020 in case you haven’t heard!

If you have yet to migrate your platform to Magento 2 then an ERP sandbox will help you immensely.

With a test environment in place, you’ll be free to identify any issues that may come up during the move to Magento 2, leaving you free to test solutions and fixes ready for your real-life migration.

3. Any business undergoing a new ERP implementation project

A test environment should be part of the planning for any new implementation project.

It’s especially crucial for larger businesses or those that have a number of integrations, plugins and EDI connections that a new ERP vendor might not be familiar with.

Once the implementation is complete, the sandbox account can always be kept and maintained for future stress testing.

4. Any existing ERP-powered business that wants to improve in-house employee training

As we covered above, an ERP sandbox is perfect for training employees on without impacting live data.

If you want to improve your in-house employee training, or you have a lot of new hires coming onboard such as around the holiday season, then an ERP sandbox should be the first gift you give to your business this year.

How can you get your own ERP sandbox?

If you’ve not yet made the leap from using legacy on premise ERP, then you’ll need to setup additional computer equipment and servers for a traditional ERP sandbox environment to run on, while paying for additional hosting and product upgrades.

On the other side of the coin, most cloud ERP vendors like Brightpearl already have the infrastructure in place to provide you with a virtual sandbox environment, which eliminates the need for localized servers, and enables admins, developers and front-end users to stress test new apps and integrations before they go live.

Virtual servers like this can be launched within minutes.

Introducing Brightpearl Sandbox Environments

 

If you’re a Brightpearl customer, you can gain access to your own Brightpearl sandbox environment by contacting our Customer Success team.

If you’re not yet a Brightpearl customer, but are on the hunt for new back office technology to help automate and streamline your operations, then book a demo today to find out how we can help you – both with a live account and an ERP sandbox.

 

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