By Sam Wilkins
Vice President, Professional Services at Thomson Reuters
Moving to an agile development model and focusing on a shared single-code line to build our new platform over the last 12 months is making a difference. While we are in the infancy on both fronts, our customers are praising the efforts and beginning to recognize how they can benefit from the changes.
Having one platform serving the entire Government division will provide a consistent Professional Services delivery where all materials for testing, system documentation, configuration and conversion can be more easily leveraged over time. With 100 people in our Professional Services team implementing Aumentum all over the United States and world, optimal efficiency depends on our ability to seamlessly implement the same product time after time.
A short time ago, our Professional Services team was implementing several different code streams of Aumentum for different customers, and managing their way through the differences in product behavior and functionality that occur every time the code is split for a specific customer release or market. With one standard product across all customer implementations, our team can evolve a consistent set of services workshops that can be accessed across Aumentum projects.
For example, Aumentum process guides are created once, then improved upon as projects are implemented over time. Our partners in Product Development and Product Management can deliver features, fixes and functionality in one standard line of code rather than making changes and testing multiple code streams and troubleshooting issues from each customer-driven release.
From a conversion perspective, a big part of our implementation is converting the customer’s data. Once we provide table layouts, we need to get each customer’s data input into these layouts so they can then be moved to the Aumentum database. When there are multiple versions of a database to maintain, we also have to maintain multiple versions of code. With a standard product platform, we immediately become more efficient when we only have to maintain one.
A hyper focus on quality assurance
A new framework has been developed to support automated tests. We currently have teams developing automated tests at the application level, market level (state, territory, and sometimes country), and project level. In addition, we’ve built about 120 automated “smoke tests” to ensure the basic functionality of the application will work. These tests will provide us with an early warning about any implementation problems. So far, more than 500 test have been automated and the results are showing marked improvements in detecting issues prior to customer rollout.
Another big area involves the database test — a piece that ensures that the Professional Services team is correctly inputting data into the database during new implementations. As we build enterprise systems, it’s vital to our ongoing success that we consistently put data in the same place, in the same way. These tests allow my team and engineers to write tests validating the data. With more than 5,000 database tests on every shared conversion we do, this best practice really saves time.
Soon, we will recapture the time we currently spend working on bugs and developing features in code streams. Our customers will benefit from our dedicated focus on one version. New features and functionality will make their way into customers’ hands much more quickly — nothing will be stagnant. It’s exciting to be able to work with customers and help develop the next generation of Aumentum, rather than just maintain the previous generation.