“For us, the most important criterion in our search for a requirements definition solution was that it would be provide us with the robust capabilities to work with a use case methodology.”
The division responsible for software development activities with the consumer group of a global financial services organization found it increasingly challenging to align processes, methodologies, and tooling. Lack of standardization was leading to longer timelines, inconsistent quality control, and project delays.
"Since we've implemented Blueprint, some of our biggest benefits have been our greatly improved our requirements processes, and through the seamless integration with HP Quality Center we have see greater collaboration between reviewers."
The senior vice president of the Software Engineering Process Management Group is charged with managing the process, methodology and tooling for requirements for all global consumer software development activities. “We start with the requirements, then design, develop, test and deploy, and work with the BAs globally to work through specific needs for their audience,” he explains.
With such widespread reach, there were challenges in the past when it came to aligning processes, methodologies and tooling. “Without standards, there were inefficiencies,” says the SVP. “Projects could only be developed for single organizations. Everyone was using different artifacts, documentation and templates, which made it difficult to do anything outside of individual verticals.”
People in different groups were working in Word templates with their own processes, he adds. “The only way to get things done at that level of skill was to escalate. There was no infrastructure to define what a BA’s role should be.” These inefficiencies were affecting business on several fronts, including longer timelines, inconsistent results, duplication and delays in bringing ideas to market.
What senior leadership needed was a single model for processes, methodologies and tooling. An integral driver in the decision was ensuring proper auditing and tracking in its requirements to achieve sustainability at the global level.
In 2009, the organization implemented Blueprint as a robust requirements definition solution that could meet their integration, scalability, visualization, and simulation needs. The solution is now being used by 1,000 reviewers worldwide.
Improving Global Performance
The decision was made to go with Blueprint after a lengthy and detailed analysis of 20 potential solutions to serve its needs. Blueprint is a visually-driven requirements definition and management solution that guides teams through project milestones and processes, including authoring, management, validation, monitoring, collaboration and integration.
“The most important criterion in our search was a robust requirements definition solution that could work with a use case methodology. Other attributes we wanted included integration with HP Quality Center, scalability, visualization and simulation,” the SVP explains. “However, most of the solutions we looked at were not designed to do proper requirements definition management.”
The desktop version of Blueprint was implemented in 2009. Since then the Group has transitioned to the current web-based version, which has been made available to BA teams through a private cloud infrastructure.
Benefits of Blueprint
A single, standardized solution for a global team of reviewers to use
Seamless integration with HP Quality Center
Ability to scale to meet evolving needs
More dynamic engagement with users
Lower project costs and increased agility
The initial implementation was focused on North American activities, but use has since expanded to a global level. Today, there are an estimated 1,000 reviewers on the system. “We no longer have the shortcomings we faced when things were done manually,” the SVP notes. “We have better requirements processes, as well as good integration with HP Quality Center and greater collaboration between reviewers. Those have been the biggest benefits to date.”
He notes that Blueprint has been a strong partner that has grown with them as their needs evolved. “We understand things take time, but we have had a great partnership with them in finding and developing solutions as we scaled.”
Today Blueprint has been used in hundreds of projects, and new projects continue to be added. “Having a single solution helps, but the strength is that when we talk about requirements now, instead of reading 400 pages of requirements that no one reads, we have a more engaged set of stakeholders. We can go through simulations and look at business process diagrams at the GUI with widgets and high level simulations. We can step through use cases and look at traceability. It’s a much more dynamic type of engagement than users have had in the past.” The self-service and collaboration aspects also translate into lower costs as well as improved overall agility.
According to the SVP, Blueprint dominates the requirements definition space. “If you want a requirements solution that’s scalable, you don’t need to look any further than Blueprint. Also, the level of partnership is tremendous as we grow. When we look at competitive offerings, we haven’t seen anything with the horsepower that Blueprint has, or can scale to the levels we need.”
Having gone through the template and process normalization process, the organization is now working on the control, reporting and requirements definition aspects of Blueprint. “The normalization stages can’t be underestimated. A lot can be said for having a single solution that people can be trained on.”
As far as he is concerned, getting requirements right is where organizations can realize the greatest opportunity. “If you can reduce the amount of churn and defects, you can realize tremendous savings once you go into deployment mode. In fact, the further you are in the software development lifecycle, the more expensive it gets to fix defects. If you find a defect in testing for example, a fix may cost you 10 times the original investment. But if you find a defect in the deployment stage, the cost goes up by a factor of 100.”
That’s why it’s important to get requirements right the first time around, he adds. “To achieve that, it’s critical to have a solution that will help us understand and improve upon the requirements we do. For us, Blueprint is definitely that solution.”
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