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Two Weeks…. Looking in Both Directions

  • 10/05/2013
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  • Posted by EuroSTAR

The third of five weekly reports:- as the ‘real’ implementation approaches, after two preparatory do-nothing code promotions, the focus of both business users and the small project team is starting to shift beyond mid-May. Real business benefit will accrue from the new reporting mechanisms, but there are more opportunities ahead. Is it completely ready? No. Will the date be met? 150% certain – if there are any certainties in IT.

Two weeks to the main implementation, with the second (of two) preparatory PROD software deployment successfully and peaceable accomplished. Tick!! It all went like clockwork, and gave the broader release management team further confidence that the planning has been a key part of the implementation strategy. Strangely, the key delivery has not yet been made, and attention is already switching to the future, beyond that which had until now been the focus of the project team.

There are some elements that were agreed months ago (i.e. not last minute de-scoping) would not be included in the mid-May release, but which will give added value to business decision makers. Aside from this, the business reporting tool can handle the collation and merging of data volumes, but will at some point grind to a halt doings these activities, so there is a technical issue to be completely solved before mid July 2013 (at the latest, and preferably before then). Additionally, there is the next stage of the over-arching data strategy, to allow yet more data feeds to be captured in the data warehouse, and reporting undertaken combining these new feeds with information already in the warehouse. In other words, what we have just done ……. again. It is Groundhog Day!

So, what was achieved this week? I can give you the figures, and what a story. More tests passed, more defects raised, more closed. The remaining data sets were inserted into the warehouse [not part of the UAT plan – but on a “best endeavours” basis], in part by stacking up data load schedules so that the creaking (shared) UAT database was active most hours of the day and night for 10 days upto and including the first Saturday in May. Some of the ‘defects’ recorded will not be fixed before the implementation into PROD (the technical issue with the reporting tool is one such item in this category).

One of the two previously described data issues (see “Three Weeks and Counting …….”) is a problem with upstream data that will not be fixed, and the other is being worked around by an Informatica ETL change. A new monthly data feeds has “customer numbers” that do not conform to the company-wide unified structure, being older historical entries. Fortunately, the list of such anomalies is known, so a look-up table will be used. Conceptually solved but not yet coded – or tested. “Conceptually solved” – yet another wonderful term coined by Brett Gonzales! The remaining upstream data issue is used as the basis for existing reports, those that the data warehouse solution is replacing, enhancing and superseding.

I was rather annoyed with myself for invalidating the last test case carried forward from System Test. The week started with four of these, all unusual but possible scenarios, and I had to persuade a colleague that it was necessary to execute these. Am I glad that these were carried forward, as one test initially failed, but with a fix applied, this was the third of these passed this week. The forth did not fail – but neither did it pass. Drat. Many of the new ‘defects’ in the week were raised and closed within 36 or even 24 elapsed hours – solved by a software fix.

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Job scheduling is almost complete, and one of my major deliverables outstanding is the User Guide. A draft has been given to key users for comments – knowing that there are still parts outstanding. User buy-in with this document aims to enable self-help – and it is surprising how much valid testing clarification arises when testers write user guides. A draft business verification plan sits with business users, detailing how the outstanding data feeds will be loaded between mid-May and the end of the month. By month-end, all data will be up-to-date, and mid-year analysis easily accomplished …….. Or so the plan goes!

Two enabling implementation completed, and just the big one to go. Phew, it’s exciting!


peter morgan_120x90Peter Morgan is a testing professional who has been involved in the ICT industry for more than 30 years, and worked in the freelance marketplace for much of that time. His time has sometimes moved from testing to ‘development’, but he would add “always using the mindset of a tester”. He is passionate about testing and a firm advocate of testing qualifications. An enthusiastic speaker and author, Peter tries to base his output on hands-on experience, attempting to relate fine sounding ideas back to how it will affect Joe or Jane Tester in their everyday working lives in the war of attrition that we call software testing.

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