The project was first initiated in 1997 and involves the development of systems to provide key information to government departments on demand.
As information sources are enhanced or new sources identified,the systems need to be quickly updated.There is no apparent end date to this project,as it is inevitable that changes and new requirements will continue to be identified for the foreseeable future.
The systems are truly “business critical,” requiring very high quality,reliability,and availability.Essential updates and enhancements must be implemented quickly, must be delivered on time,must be defect free,and must not degrade the quality or accuracy of the existing functionality.
The project runs on a rolling three-year cycle,with major reviews carried out at the end of each period.These typically result in changes to the personnel involved in the project and the underlying customer needs.They can also influence the overall development approach taken.I became involved at the last three-year review,one of whose recommendations was to adopt “a more agile approach.”
This is a large agile project,with some thirty staff,including customer representatives.The project team changes regularly, with no one staying on the team for any great length of time,other than a core of five people.It is critical to project success that the productivity and quality are not harmed as a result of the high staff turnover.Continuously integrating new team members into the team is a major challenge;consequently,a great deal of attention has to be paid to keeping documentation up to date to ensure seamless handovers whenever people leave or join the project.
The project is run as a series of six-week iterations,with each iteration delivering production-quality code into the live environment.As a result of this rapid development cycle and the need to deliver high-quality reliable code into the live environment,testing is absolutely critical to the success of each iteration,as well as that of the overall project.The need to ensure that the code implemented in the current iterations meets the customer requirements and is reliable,while ensuring that the changes do not adversely impact the existing code base,means that testing must be continuous,comprehensive,effective,and efficient.
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