Westpac streamlines development with TOM project

Centre of excellence to improve time to market

Development testing and QA software has helped big four bank Westpac better manage its projects and allow it to adopt a standard set of practices.

The Towards One Methodology, or TOM, project began some three and a half years ago to improve the bank's software development lifecycle, according to business and technology solutions test manager Gopa Kumar.

Westpac began the change with software from Mercury, which is now owned by HP.

"We started this whole journey with Mercury to gain more consistency in the way we delivery projects and to increase reuse, which was quite woeful," Kumar said.

Speaking at this year's HP Software Universe in Brisbane, Kumar said before TOM, everything at Westpac "was being reengineered all the time" which was affecting the IT organization's ability to deliver solutions.

In order to improve its software development lifecycle Wespac also worked on the process component with Object Consulting, with the testing and QA components based on HP's Quicktest and Loadrunner.

"Test Director been most phenomenal in terms of take-up which has been good," Kumar said. "In a little over a year it has become a lifeline for projects. I had to sell the product now it is not able to cope with demand. Test managers can't live without it for a minute."

With the bank expanding its infrastructure and "always adding servers", it has used Loadrunner for about four years now.

Westpac has now moved to Quicketest Professional but with take-up "patchy at best" it started running a centre of excellence three months ago and is now starting to see a turn around in the perception of the product.

Kumar said testing has been the most successful in terms of take up because testing managers were spending hours trying to get data for reports, and up to half a day which is "ridiculous".

"From a process point of view the testing process didn't change all that much," he said. "I think cultural change is a five year thing, especially in a place like Westpac, and we are probably two years into it now."

In terms of ROI, Kumar said the bank has started doing some metrics, which is an area it is looking to improve and deploy.

"One of the first few numbers we have got is especially around test management was something like at 50 percent reduction in effort around test management, especially in test reporting from Quality Center," he said.

In terms of the bank's integrated program of work (IPW), the amount of software development hasn't decreased but its focus has changed.

"There are over 200 projects, which are fairly major change programs so there is always stuff like compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley and superannuation," Kumar said.

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