QMT Features: October 2010
Psion steps up innovation and efficiency
An Application Quality Management, AQM,  solution provides a quality management backbone for mobile computing pioneer, Psion Teklogix.

Psion Teklogix, the pioneer of rugged mobile computing, is using an Application Quality Management (AQM) solution, Qualify, to enable significant time savings, process improvements and re-use of assets, accelerating innovation on new products and features.

Shahe Altounian, manager for product support and services at Psion, leads a team of test and business analysts, in charge of validating Psion’s products before they are released to production. From testing for compliance to industry standards, and through validation that the beepers and software work as designed, he and his team  manage and plan the quality of the handheld devices.

They had been using TestPlan, Original Software’s solution for test planning, but which has now been superceded by Qualify, a complete AQM solution, also from Original Software.

Shahe admits, “When I was first introduced to Qualify, my initial reaction was ‘Do I really need this right now?’, but I was soon won over, as we began seeing efficiencies by linking test requirements to product requirements and being able to customise the user interface to fit our individual needs. Qualify allows really simple efficiencies, such as being able to assign tasks en-mass, as well as ease of test asset re-use from project to project.”

Efficiencies aid innovation
Already Shahe’s team had experienced significant efficiency savings by eliminating the need for time-consuming weekly progress meetings. With Qualify, every member of the team can see the exact project status at any given moment of time, so the status updates are now effectively automated. This allows team members to get far more value out of the weekly meetings. Rather than focusing on what has already been done and what is outstanding, Psion can now devote that time to focus on more productive activities.

“The support team were fantastic in helping us to recognise the applicability and relevance of new features and integrate them into our processes, redefining entities, structures and relationships. We really began to see the benefit that could be realised in expanding Qualify out further across the enterprise and using the solution to join up our whole engineering process from requirements through to test validation,” says Shahe.

The impetus to upgrade was to introduce these efficiencies to the rest of the organisation and benefit from the ability to trace requirements through the delivery process. “We wanted a more rigorous methodology to take us from requirements all the way through the product lifecycle,” he explains.

The Requirements team had vast amounts of spreadsheets they were using. They wanted to reduce the amount of time they spent maintaining these and at the same time take advantage of the re-usability of assets that Shahe and his team were enjoying with Qualify.

“We thought, wouldn’t it be great to have the processes all nailed down at the start of a new project - components we’ve built many times before – that wouldn’t have to be re-visited again and again? Using Qualify allows us to focus more on innovation – creating requirements for new ground-breaking features that will differentiate us from the competition and bring-to-market products with innovative new functionality; products that can make a real difference to our users and their employees,” says Shahe.

Power to users
Psion’s development process works like a classic ‘V Model’ and Qualify allows the integration of development with the testing team; visibly linking together both sides of the ‘V’ and allowing both teams full transparency of the project status.
Another feature that impressed Psion is the level of customisation that is possible. Each member of the team is able to have their own personalised view of the project and the elements and detail that they want to see, whatever is most important to them and their role.

“What’s really great is how easy it is to achieve this. Qualify is totally customisable without IT support,” says Shahe. “All the other tools I have looked at require IT development and DBA support to achieve the same results. With Qualify, Original Software has handed power to their users, putting the customisation ability into the hands of the people actually using the solution!

We now have our specifications in a solution where it is easy to slice and dice the information in different ways. We’ve created efficiency savings by eliminating duplication, but more than that, Qualify has given us a new clarity of purpose. We know exactly what we are trying to achieve and precisely where all the information we need is located.

Qualify has given us much more robust management of information and the ability to store and retrieve. We now have instant access to all the information we need at our fingertips. We have full historical data, such as the effort it took us to carry out certain tests, which then allows us to be much more accurate in our estimations at the start of a new project. Not only that, but this same historical data can really help us to improve performance and take corrective action when processes are not working effectively.

For example, if we hear of a complaint in the field, we can look back and find out what went wrong, how, if more training is needed, what tools were available, etc., and try to improve, rethinking the strategy to better perform in the future and improve processes. It’s a great audit trail, not just for compliance purposes, but for the business to improve its working practices as well. 

The biggest challenge for us has been about changing how people work. We’ve made a monumental leap in the way that people collaborate and work together on projects. We’ve gone from doing everything manually, with work spread out across documents, print-outs and spreadsheets, to having a centralised, business-aligned quality management solution that truly empowers team members. I’ve really enjoyed working with Qualify and it has been an enormous benefit to the business,” concludes Shahe.l
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