Car parts and bicycle retailer Halfords has halved software testing times, as it introduces more automation.

The company, which centres most applications around its core SAP system, said it had revised its testing strategy with specialist SAP testing firm Experior. Its bespoke testing systems are based around HP software.

Tony Smollett, head of business systems at Halfords, told Computerworld UK at the recent SAP User Group conference in Manchester that the changes were partly prompted by its move to a new warehouse management system, from supplier Manhattan Associates. That system, and a warehouse overhaul, are aimed at saving the company £4 million annually.

Other key changes requiring testing were Halfords moving its datacentre to Somerset in the summer, aimed at saving £250,000 a year, as well as adding functionality to store and gift card systems.

Halfords, which has 469 stores and an e-commerce website, also faced fresh challenges after acquiring Nationwide Autocentres and its 224 garages, a move that brought in a range of different systems to the company.

“Without a clear plan it would have been one change after another without understanding the effects at each point,” said Smollett.

The new strategy also maps out upcoming software releases, test standards, teams and skills available, he said. It also includes full “environment readiness” plans, as well as quality inspections throughout the development lifecycle.

“We wanted to make sure that with all the changes taking place, any one change would not have a detrimental effect on another area,” he said.