Northgate Information Solutions is a market
leader in providing specialist software, outsourcing and information
technology (IT) services to the human resources, local government,
education and public safety markets. Northgate, which is listed
on London Stock Exchange, currently employs over 6,000 staff
and operates in 46 countries across 5 continents.
Northgate has approximately 4,500 large/medium customers and approximately 10,500
small/medium enterprise (SME) customers worldwide, including approximately 1
in 5 Fortune 500, 90% of the UK local authorities and all of the UK’s regional
police forces. Northgate are a technology services company with a difference.
Northgate is committed to high quality public services and understands the public
sector. That knowledge is core to its business. Northgate’s task is to share
in the economic and social benefits that this brings.
Northgate assists the public sector to promote community well-being by helping
them provide citizens with accessible and responsive one-stop services based
on clear and detailed information; by engaging with public sector employees to
transfer and enhance skills; and by working with public sector management to
enhance performance management.
Prior to taking T-Plan, Northgate were using
MS Word and Excel with Visual Basic applications and macros to
manage their testing process. Northgate increasingly found this
approach required far too much maintenance and administration
as well as being very time consuming. In the main, Word was used
to create test script templates, but others found there was a
lot more flexibility in using Excel. At any one time within Northgate
there are a large number of ongoing projects and when members
joined each others projects the approach to documenting scripts
and reporting on test progress differed.
At this point Northgate began to investigate Test Management solutions to provide
a more efficient and standardised approach, and researched different products
following the ISO standard for evaluating software. They finally chose T-Plan
citing its ability to break down testing into steps as one of the major advantages
over its competitors.
Northgate were looking to address 3 main
problems in their testing process. These centred on the time associated
with manual test management, inconsistent approaches to documentation process,
and the difficulties of project reporting.
The very nature of a manual system
meant that there was an amount of administrative overhead.
This coupled with the fact that Northgate had large numbers
of people moving between projects and each project containing
(by now) large quantities of documents meant it was very
difficult for new members to pick up where each project
was in the testing process.
By using office tools there was no
formal process flow, which meant that often it was difficult
to monitor the progress of projects through the testing
process. In order to overcome this, significant manual
intervention was required. In addition, with the inherent
flexibility of office tools it meant that everyone had
their own specific way of presenting data, creating inconsistencies
throughout the projects.
Having to write reports became laborious
as data had to be pulled from a variety of different sources
in order to compile the document. Ad hoc reporting was also
an issue and when requests for a ‘snapshot’ of a project
was requested this proved very difficult to deliver in a
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In 2003 Virgin Mobile realised their test
programmes for new business applications weren’t being managed
as well as they should. The Virgin Mobile management wanted
a system that gave them better control of their test management
The Virgin Mobile testing process was largely ad-hoc, used
spreadsheets, was manually intensive and overly focused on incident management.
In effect they were re-inventing the wheel for every test project.
“We wanted an integrated test management
Francesca Kay, Test Manager
With the objective of a better-managed, end-to-end testing
process, Virgin Mobile researched the market thoroughly. T-Plan was chosen
because it provided all the tools required and represented excellent value
for money. Their preference is to work with smaller companies because they
are usually more responsive and adaptable to changing requirements; T-Plan
fitted the bill perfectly.
T-Plan software allowed Virgin Mobile to standardize, control
and report on all of its testing processes, thereby:
• Giving a better view of how testing projects are progressing
• Enabling insight into how a change in requirements affects
• Providing more information on test performance and risk
• Allowing the standardization and reuse of test projects
• Offering one central database to analyze trends
Of particular note was the high level of service that Virgin Mobile received.
From product explanation and initial training through to day-to-day account
management, T-Plan’s service was second to none.
“Very flexible and excellent value for
Concluded Francesca Kay, Test Manager
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United Utilities (UU) Plc.
UU is one of the leading licensed Distribution Network Operators (DNO) in the UK. It owns and operates the local electricity distribution system within its own authorised area.
DADS (DUoS and Associated Distribution Systems) is a web based Billing application being developed and tested over the past 2 years which has undergone 3 releases. This is a project of 2500 function points, which needs thorough testing to prove the requirements are being met by the application.
The DADS project chose the ‘T-Plan’ product suite to manage the entire testing activities, which includes the following:
- Developing the ‘Test Cases’ and ‘Test Scripts’ in Ms-Word and then exporting into T-Plan;
- Developing the ‘Test Data’ in Spreadsheets and linking to the Test Scripts;
- Developing the ‘Test Schedules’ in T-Plan for test execution;
- Monitoring ‘Test Execution’ progress;
- Managing the ‘Incidents’;
- Single repository for all project deliverables.
Based on the experience of using ‘T-Plan’ over the last two years, I would like to highlight the following features of ‘T-Plan’ and given a chance I would not hesitate to recommend others for using T-Plan for ‘Test Management’ activities.
- Structured approach to defining the Test Cases;
- Flexibility in defining the ‘Test Scripts’ as per user requirements;
- Flexibility in defining and modifying the data in spreadsheets, which has a link to ‘Test Scripts’;
- Flexibility in modifying the ‘Test Scripts’ during ‘Test Execution’ for later phases of testing;
- Efficient ‘Incident Management’;
- Easy for management reporting;
- Timely support from the T-Plan ‘Customer Support’ team.
The DADS project team is thankful to ‘T-Plan’ for the product which is a great help for ‘Test Management’ activities.
Janaki B. Mishra
TCS [Tata Consultancy Services] Consultant for DADS project
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nCode International Ltd
nCode International Ltd (nCode) would like to congratulate T-Plan on the release of their V5.0 product lines.
nCode is a leader in the development and provision of advanced software tools for the processing, reduction, and validation of engineering data. Increasingly, nCode is focusing on the provision of systems to manage the volumes of data and documentation generated during measurement, test, and analysis campaigns. nCode has been in business since 1982. The company is committed to the provision of best-in-class tools for signal processing, data reduction, durability, and the integration of these tools into systems that assist engineers in the development and testing of their products. nCode's vision is to provide its customers with the means for transforming data into useful information upon which business decisions can be made. This highly focused heritage has enabled nCode to accumulate an unmatched wealth of knowledge related to materials, analysis techniques, correlation, data management, and a host of other related topics.
Upon our first introduction to T-Plan, some 2 years ago, it became very apparent that it comprised a test management tool that would add significant value to the testing process adopted at nCode.
nCode's principal requirements at that time were :-
- centralisation of all our test documentation
- levy a risk-based framework around our testing practise
- improve the simplicity with which tests are created and scheduled
- implement full traceability between requirements & tests (based upon the V-Model)
- integrate incident management within testing practise
- obtain metrics at the push of a button
- support a model of remote testing
- excellent after-sales support
T-Plan had all the solutions. Indeed, compared with other market leaders it proved to be the product best suited to nCode's requirements and, quite virtuously, the most cost effective. nCode were impressed that the T-Plan product layered easily and effectively onto our software processes and products lines, which are predominantly of a high mathematical, scientific and engineering content (comprising an apparent departure from the product lines of the majority of T-Plan's customer base).
In V5.0 the T-Plan products have improved still further upon these requirements. In particular the introduction of steps has improved our ability to simplify test scheduling (and especially so for our remote testers).
nCode is a dynamic company that has always prided itself on the level of support it is capable of providing to its customers. It is pleasing to witness that T-Plan also regard customer support as key to their business enterprise. Over the 2 years in which T-Plan has been implemented at nCode, we have requested many enhancements to the software. The uptake and implementation of these requests has surpassed our reasonable expectation.
In 2002, nCode gratefully accepted an invitation from T-Plan to deliver a presentation at their user-group conference. These are forums in which T-Plan management, staff and their customers have the opportunity to exchange ideas and share examples of good practice. nCode now regard themselves as an integral member of the T-Plan community.
A final note of appreciation goes from nCode to their T-Plan account manager. It is our experience that T-Plan account managers are never more than a phone call away, they are always ready to listen and wherever possible accommodate - thus delivering 100% on our expectation of post-sales, customer support.
Mark A. Ashton
Test & Release Manager
nCode International Ltd
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International Securities Market Association (ISMA) - A Case Study
The International Securities Market Association (ISMA) is the self-regulatory organisation and trade association for the international securities market.
ISMA's COREDEAL system needed to be audited by the FSA (Financial Services Authority) before they could launch their system.
Implementation of a Testing Methodology and Process, together with the T-Plan Product Suite.
- The T-Plan Product Suite supports a structured Testing Methodology and Process
- Ability to show visibility and traceability
of tests against regulatory requirements.
- Ability to provide test coverage analysis of all levels of testing from requirements to test scripts to test execution.
- The architecture of the T-Plan Product
Suite provides a high degree of information reusability.
- COREDEAL passed the FSA Audit.
- Regulation of the Process.
- Reduction of Costs.
- Reduction of Business Risk.
ISMA - Project COREDEAL
ISMA's initial usage of T-Plan Professional was prior to the launch of COREDEAL, the investment exchange for international debt-related securities. Stringent requirements were imposed upon ISMA in developing the system to ensure that it met the standards expected by its chosen regulator, the UK 's Financial Services Authority (FSA).
During the critical product launch of COREDEAL it quickly became apparent that the usage of T-Plan Professional could be embraced across the range of products and services being developed by ISMA. As a result, the improved structure provided by T-Plan Professional now underpins ISMA's testing in respect of a wide series of products - a case of well-deserved repeat business.
Initially, ISMA was using just the Test Management tool - T-Plan Professional. ISMA now also uses the Incident Management tool to allocate priorities to fixes as they are logged. The quality management reports generated by the incident management tool can be quickly and routinely circulated to the business teams within the company, enabling them to take well-founded decisions as to which issues are most critical in terms of requiring a solution before the launch of a new product or upgrade.
The introduction of a testing methodology and process across the product range is proving itself by saving time and resources. It has certainly brought tangible and considerable operational efficiencies for the people responsible for testing at ISMA - their workload is now far more orderly.
However, the benefits are wider. The structured framework offered by T-Plan has beneficial knock-on effects for the business as a whole. All of the testing ISMA's QA team does is now routinely referenced back to the original business requirements of a given product. This means that not only can ISMA quantify and qualify its testing against the actual needs of the business, but that the business specifications produced by its product developers are by necessity more detailed and more accurately prescriptive. As a result, products can be brought to market more quickly.
The thorough testing process brought by T-Plan also brings considerable further reassurance to ISMA in terms of reputation risk. Putting a product live in the secure knowledge that it has been properly and fully tested considerably reduces concerns about undiscovered bugs being released into a production environment.
COREDEAL provided by ISMA for the members of the COuncil of REporting DEALers is the electronic exchange for international debt-related securities owned by ISMA, major banks and securities houses.
ISMA's COREDEAL system needed to be audited by its chosen regulator, the UK 's Financial Services Authority (FSA) before implementing the system.
Whilst ISMA had previously used - and found satisfactory - its own, internally-developed testing regimes, the FSA clearly regarded T-Plan Professional as a quality management tool that would help provide a clear indication that COREDEAL met the standards required by the Authority. As a result, T-Plan Professional became the obvious candidate for ISMA to adopt as a QA management tool.
The key attractions of the T-Plan product suite were:
- Capacity to support a structured testing methodology and process.
- Ability to show visibility and traceability of tests against regulatory requirements.
- Ability to provide test coverage analysis of all levels of testing - from requirements to test scripts to test execution.
- Tool architecture provides a high degree of information reusability.
The FSA looked at the testing they were performing and prescribed 2 main requirements:
- The FSA imposed on ISMA a strict requirement to tie its testing back to COREDEAL's business requirements in order to ensure transparency in gauging exactly how many of the requirements had been tested.
- The regulator needed ISMA not only to be able to produce a list of errors / incidents that it had found, along with criticality etc., but also to be able to demonstrate how much test coverage had been achieved and to which aspect of the business requirements each incident related.
ISMA therefore needed to provide firm evidence to the FSA of the following:
- The testing process for the COREDEAL system is under control.
- Test Plans provide adequate coverage of the functionality of the system.
- Traceability is demonstrable between source documentation (E.g. Functional Definition) and test documentation.
- Where functional documentation is not present or inadequate, that this is identified and adequate test coverage is provided.
- Non-functional testing requirements (E.g. Volume and Stress Testing) have measurable requirements that can be proven.
- During the test execution phase, statistical evidence of testing progress can be provided showing conformance to the defined testing strategy, including progress against the agreed entry and exit criteria for each stage of testing.
T-Plan were called in to put a process in place. This involved:
- Delivering a Test Strategy and Test Plan.
- Implementing T-Plan Professional (Test Management Tool).
- Production of a central requirements repository in T-Plan Professional for all documentation relevant to the testing life-cycle.
- Populating the Test Management Tool (T-Plan Professional) with the tests that ISMA had already created and relating these back to requirements. The statistics feature in T-Plan Professional was then able to demonstrate test coverage.
- Assessment of Business Risk to areas of the system in order to measure impact of change and also to analyse testing coverage against critical areas of the system.
- Consolidation of all test results in a central repository in T-Plan Professional, with therefore the ability to link and measure passes and failures back to original requirements.
The end result was that ISMA passed the FSA audit and COREDEAL went live.
Visit ISMA @ www.isma.co.uk
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Budgens have been a firmly established community food retailer for over 125 years and is recognised for its excellent FRESH food, FRIENDLY staff & VALUE for money.
'The Support at T-Plan has been very good. If we have a query, they are very fast to respond and always very helpful. Overall, T-Plan has been a great investment for Budgens'
IT Project Analyst
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Carter Holt Harvey Forests
Carter Holt Harvey is one of Australasia's leading wood fibre products companies.
It is a business with diverse interests across a wide range of areas. These include wood products, tissue, forestry, pulp and paper and manufacturing, as well as packaging, information technology, venture capital and human resources.
'Our project is on time, on budget and the steering committee has been impressed with the project and the thorough approach.
I presented an overview of the tool and how we are going to use it to the project team. So far, feedback from the consultants has been good:
- "It looks a good tool"
- "I'm glad we're not doing this in word documents and spreadsheets"
- "Good choice"
- "It is powerful"
And for my part:
- I feel in a position where I should be able to readily report to management on our position
- That the testers can clearly see what is required and are set to work in a self monitoring way
- That I can focus on value adding activities
So thanks for your help in getting it going!!'
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