Lend Lease is a listed property group specialising in project management and construction, real estate investment and development. The Lend Lease ICT Group (Australia) provide systems and software to the Lend Lease business and provide technical resources and specialists for a range of desktop applications and national and international web-site projects including e-Finance solutions, HR and payroll and project management.
Head of Lend Lease ICT, Neil Kinnaird, said "We were being told internally that a lot of the problems in the process were corrected but what Planit showed us was that collective ownership of quality was just not happening. Planit helped us go straight to the root-cause of many chronic issues."
Lend Lease engaged Planit to undertake an Agile Test Process Improvement Review to enable them to transform their current organisational practices from traditional to Agile, drawing on Planit’s experience as a recognised industry leader in software testing.
Most projects currently were delivered using a Waterfall method and all had the same challenges of not being able to fit the right amount of testing into the delivery schedule. Projects were not able to react to late changes found during Acceptance Testing with the business resulting in frustrations being suffered by the stakeholders as they thought ICT unresponsive.
Typically deliverables into production had severe defects released because of the twin problems above, resulting in projects getting out of control late in the delivery timeline. This then had a negative impact on Business As Usual teams who had to deal with abnormal levels of defects and code which was different to maintain. Plus the cost of quality was significantly increased as fixes whilst in production are considerably more expensive than those found and resolved early by the project team.
It was clear that not only was more targeted testing required, but also the ICT Group could not afford to wait until Acceptance Testing before finding out if the Business outcomes were achieved and the software benefits realised.
As time-to-market business cycles are shortening across the economy, Lend Lease was experiencing a growing appetite for more agility in the business whilst a tough economic climate dictated doing more with less.
Adopting Agile processes was seen as the way forward but how to get there was not as easy as it looked.
Neil Kinnard said: "We knew we wanted to go Agile, but did not have the expertise in-house to devise a strategy for testing nor capability to implement it. Planit came in and offered to deliver all this without disrupting our in-flight projects.”
Lend Lease had already brought in certified Scrum Masters to bootstrap the transition to using Agile on projects, but progress was inconsistent and depended on too many individual factors. More was needed to get a deeper understanding of the testing capabilities and a set of proven initiatives to transform the process.
Planit were engaged as an independent consultant to evaluate existing practices and provide an assessment of the current testing capability. Included would be a roadmap for how Lend Lease could transform their test processes to become more Agile.
Planit used their Agile Test Process Improvement toolkit to interview key members of staff who participated in the delivery of projects and classify their answers on a maturity scale. With a comprehensive set of answers from a range of stakeholders, it was possible to assess the application of Agile practices in each of the key quality process areas and to map the current Lend Lease Agile test capability against industry best practice.
Planit currently is the only consultancy that has a formal process for Agile Test Process Improvement. It provides a clear and methodical way to assess test processes against Agile practices and to choose the focus areas for any improvement initiative, which also includes uplifting the overall team quality.
The primary goal of the process was to provide Lend Lease with a programme of short, medium and long-term objectives to improve the current test process, increasing its effectiveness and efficiency.
By using Planit, Lend Lease were able to understand their existing test process in detail and the current pain points based on independent evidence gathered by Planit. This not only helped Lend Lease ICT prepare for future projects but to ensure the appropriate corrective actions were taken in current projects.
Key amongst the improvement plan were the delivery of tailored templates for the common Agile testing deliverables, a Testing Centre-of-Excellence including being fully documented on SharePoint and coaching/training sessions for Lend Lease staff on Agile Testing.
Understanding how the testing process fits into the overall project framework and what the key commercial drivers and dependencies are, allowed Planit to tailor a bespoke process to Lend Lease's needs that is monitored for improvement on a continual basis.
After the initial meetings, Planit came up and ratified with Lend Lease the focus areas for investigation that would form the main work for the test process initiative:
- In-flight project support
- Early Test Resource Engagement and on-boarding
- Testing Policy
- Test Planning
- Managed Testing Services
- Agile Testing Process
- Non-Functional Testing
- Test Environment needs
- Coaching and Training
- Progress Reporting & Metrics
In addition to conducting interviews with key stakeholders, Planit reviewed the current process documentation, test artefacts and work product templates. Planit also facilitated retrospectives for projects that had recently delivered, which gave them valuable insight into project constraints and challenges.
The key deliverable from Planit was a roadmap of improvements driven through the Lend Lease change management programme. This took the form of a recommendation report plus presentations to key stakeholders. Plus some targeted training and coaching.
The main recommendations were:
- Early Engagement – all projects engage testing resources early in the SDLC through a consistent process via ICT Management.
- Agile Test Process – to develop and implement an Agile Testing framework and process which will lead to consistent practices across all projects, increasing the quality of delivered products.
- Enterprise-wide Tool Strategy – through Planit conducting a tools evaluation and proof-of-concept, implement an integrated toolset to support all functional and non-functional testing requirements complimenting existing investments made in Agile tools.
- Professional Testing staff capability – provide professional qualified (Certified Agile Testing) staff as part of a managed service with specific knowledge of the Lend Lease toolset, process and domain.
Lend Lease were exceptionally pleased with the outcome of the Agile Test Process Improvement exercise. As a result of this, Planit will provide test process consultancy and testing services across all projects.
Using their Agile Test Process Improvement product, Planit were able to quickly determine the organisational and testing process maturity in terms of how well Agile practices were being implemented at Lend Lease. The report presented this as a measure against industry best practice which will allow Lend Lease to closely monitor their improvements progress against investment. This allowed Planit to determine a credible and achievable roadmap to enable Lend Lease in partnership with Planit, to transform their current waterfall approach into a robust Agile methodology by targeting key areas in the overall SDLC process.