12 Oct 2011

Testing complexity

With eighteen months since going live on our new electronic testing platform, integration is still key.

Our organization has got over 10 years experience with electronic testing. We've spent many tens of thousands of Euros on our platform and content. Out of necessity rather than choice, we looked for and found a new platform to serve our network more effectively. The first project scope was limited, partly because of time restraints, but also due to the need for a quick turn around.

The project start was successful, we delivered within deadline and most of the quirks were solved upon going live, which is a feat in itself. With use and time, new needs became apparent and the project got a follow-up which is going to go live in a couple of weeks.

Most of the new features will be about integration with existing software. The old platform had none of this, requiring a lot of person hours setting up tests and handling results. The new platform is much more seamless but made it much more apparent what we lacked.

Due to the complexity of our training centre network, in the past we never reached agreement on mutual standards for exchanging testing information. Now, however, was the first time this was actually experienced as a problem. So the second generation of the project was used to tackle exactly this drawback.

One of the major elements in this phase, was the choice to appoint a specific project co-ordinator within the agency. When I was made project leader for phase one, this was on top of my already full agenda as advisor. This time, there was the chance to get a part time FTE (full time equivalent) on the project scope. This made the communication with all the partners a lot easier.

Compared with the total project budget, the communications still take up a quite small part. This, combined with the aforementioned complexity of the training network, will make it vital to spend enough time for coaching after going live with phase two. But this is true for every project I've ever been a part of.

In an integration effort, communications are a necessity. Good feedback procedures will determine the success of a project, not only real but also perceived.