ITSO Limited Expands Test Management Capabilities and Accuracy with Helix TCM and adds full ALM suite
ITSO Limited leverages Helix Test Case Management to manage its testing and certification of electronic, "smart" ticketing systems for public transportation throughout Great Britain.
The Benefits of Helix ALM to ITSO
Customizable without requiring configuration
Ability to migrate existing data easily
More accurate cost estimates
Working with Helix from Perforce saved us an incredible amount of time and money right from the very beginning."
Helix TCM Solving Industry Challenges
With billions of transactions each year taking place on a variety of point of service terminals, ITSO Limited needed a streamlined, secure, and seamless system for certifying ticketing system hardware, software, and security.
Smart ticketing was developed to make travel on public transportation more convenient by streamlining ticket purchases and use. Where a cash process is plagued with queues, disgruntled travelers, and is costly to manage, smart ticketing frees travelers from those queues, creates a simpler, automated payment process, and allows bus, train, and tube operators to invest in growing their businesses.
However, because smart ticketing evolved regionally, with each area developing often-proprietary technologies, a particular challenge arose: was it possible for travelers to cross regional borders with a single smart ticket? Enter ITSO Limited, a non-profit distributing organization.
ITSO Limited tests both existing and new ticketing machines and barriers for compliance with a single, national Crown Copyright Specification. They also profile and manage the electronic data access keys in the equipment to ensure they are all coded to interact properly. ITSO Limited essentially acts as the "keeper of the keys" for members' systems.
Helix TCM Relieves Growing Pains
By 2014, ITSO's membership had grown to more than 100 transport operators, governmental bodies, and manufacturers operating more than 60,000 point of service terminals. ITSO Limited realized they had outgrown their homegrown test management system—data was siloed, difficult to search, and limited to a single user at a time. With a goal of making all public transportation systems across the UK ITSO-compliant, it was essential they figure out how to expand their test management capabilities.
"We had been relying on a combination of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PDFs for everything from scope generation to tracking results to running reports—there were bits and pieces everywhere," said Methushala Yerraguntla, ITSO senior analyst.
ITSO Limited needed a single software solution that would centralize their disparate systems, facilitate access to the entire test case lifecycle from execution through reporting, and would also ease their growing pains. Test case management from Perforce turned out to be the answer to their challenges.
The ITSO certification and testing services team compared dozens of potential software solutions, eventually narrowing the list to Helix TCM. What sealed the deal? When ITSO realized Helix TCM was highly customizable without requiring configuration, and would allow them to both see and execute each step in the testing process from a centralized location. In addition, knowing that Perforce's Professional Services team could help migrate existing data was a huge relief; the other software systems they considered would require them to recreate the test scripts and specifications they had already built in Excel and Word.
"Working with Perforce Software saved us an incredible amount of time and money right from the very beginning," said Yerraguntla. "We already had all our documentation in place with test scripts and specifications. The company helped us create a custom program to import those existing specs into the Helix TCM database, so we didn't lose the massive amounts of work we had already done."
Reducing Margin for Error
Although there is a single Specification that ITSO members must comply with, every member system in need of testing comes with its own unique set of technical details that have to be certified. ITSO Limited could be testing a ticket machine, a card validator, or a gate mechanism; that machine could be old, new, or not yet manufactured. As a result, ITSO configured Helix TCM to automatically provide accurate requirements, scope, and testing protocols no matter what kind of machine is being assessed and which areas of the Specification need to be applied.
Helix TCM's traceability and custom controls have saved ITSO days of effort just in test scoping—something they used to contract out, but can now accomplish in-house. Each project begins with an ITSO member submitting an application form that specifies what functions and technical details they would like ITSO to certify. ITSO customized Helix to automatically select the correct parameters based on the application information and generate both the test cases and test scope.
Next, the certification and testing services team designs the process flow right in Helix and sends it, along with the test scope, to the member. Yerraguntla then readjusts the tests and the scope based on client feedback, until they have agreed on final scope, at which point ITSO provides an estimate of the project's cost and timeline—also right in Helix.
"Our cost estimates are much more accurate using Helix TCM because they're directly linked to the applications and the test scopes," Yerraguntla said.
ITSO Limited licenses the full Helix ALM suite, which means they also use it to map test cases and scripts based on the technical specifications, and to organize and trace their issue management process. The team can execute tests, view results and reports, and see everything in one place—rather than shuffling from one document to another, as before.
"Helix reduces our margin for error by implementing a level of automation and integration across all stages of our process," Yerraguntla said. "It's not just a centralized repository, but a set of professional tools that improves how we are functioning as a business."
Protecting Revenue Streams Securely
ITSO Limited just completed implementation earlier this year, but they're already seeing positive results. If tests fail, not only does ITSO Limited know why, but they also have the details to support it in a readable and actionable form. And that information is a big help to their members.
"We configured Helix ALM to include problem statements right in the client reports and to feed any issues into a compliance procedure we can hand them as well," Yerraguntla said. "Now our members have a clear path to resolution in their hands."
If the machines don't work properly or interact correctly, ITSO members lose revenue both directly in terms of downtime and repairs, and indirectly in terms of unhappy customers.
"On the human side of all this is the traveler, and Helix ensures our members' systems are fully compliant with the ITSO Specification," said Sheila MacDonald, ITSO communications advisor. "Helix helps us deliver the aim of smart ticketing to make travel on public transportation more convenient and easy to use. That's good for our members and good for us."