Itron Solves Software Quality Assurance Challenge with Helix TCM
Itron, leader in energy and water resource management, needed airtight quality assurance. As they grew, their Excel spreadsheet QA process began to fail. They needed to find a better solution. Enter Helix Test Case Management.
Why Itron Chose Helix TCM
Incredibly Reliable Storage Solutions
Benefits Through Valuable Traceability
Expansive External-Facing Capabilities
and it has been incredibly reliable. We ran extensive internal evaluations a few years ago and Helix TCM performed well above 99 percent."
Unsustainable SQA Processes
Because they’re in a highly regulated industry, Itron's customers need to know that software has been through a watertight quality assurance process.
But their software quality assurance (SQA) process was in need of some help.
They relied on Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to manage their SQA test cases. Each engineer maintained individual documents. There were no common templates or a centralized tracking method. As the department grew, this method became inefficient and cumbersome.
"A manager would literally have to walk the room, stop at each cubicle, and ask how each team member was doing," says Ed Lavoie, Research and Development Manager. "While that was perfectly effective when there were only a few people in that quality assurance team, it certainly wasn't sustainable."
Itron decided it was time for a change.
Finding a Flexible QA Solution
When Itron looked for a better way to manage their SQA process, they quickly ran into a challenge. There were a number of enterprise-level test management software tools on the market. But finding an adjustable, inexpensive solution that could be implemented on a departmental level was proving difficult.
"We needed something that was flexible, low cost, and wouldn't require an entire IT department to install and maintain since it wasn't going to be a traditional corporate asset," says Lavoie. "With Helix Test Case Management (TCM) we had the ability to control all the roles and workflow facets to a super fine degree."
Certain they wouldn't be able to find a test management solution that met their requirements, Itron looked at freeware, shareware, and homegrown options, with no luck.
"With Helix Test Case Management we had the ability to control all the roles and workflow facets to a super fine degree," says Lavoie. "I could make it do what I wanted it to without going to Perforce for customization or having to rewire it in-house. There is a high level of intuitive flexibility built right into Helix TCM."
After deciding on Helix TCM, Lavoie took his time with implementation, getting the roles and workflow exactly right. He worked with Perforce to integrate Helix TCM with other software programs and get the team up to speed.
It was well worth the effort. Initially, Itron had just 5-10 Helix TCM users. Eventually, it supported more than 120 users — something their Excel-based SQA system would have been completely unable to handle.
Confident Compliance and Confident Customers
Test case execution is part of the daily grind at Itron. They process hundreds of thousands of records for test execution using Helix TCM. But that's only one piece of the puzzle. They also use Helix TCM for test case creation and for the management and traceability of requirements.
"I can't imagine functioning without it," says Lavoie. "The data handling, storage, and processing is phenomenally robust, and it has been incredibly reliable. We ran extensive internal evaluations a few years ago and Helix TCM performed well above 99 percent."
While internal-facing functions have surpassed expectations, the external-facing capabilities made Helix TCM even more valuable for Itron. Lavoie regularly meets with customers and navigates through their test cases right in the system — highlighting who performed which tests when, what specific attributes were tested, and the test results.
"That we can show traceability, audits, and test results for customers who ask for verification materials is incredibly valuable," says Lavoie. "We have a close relationship with many of our customers and they appreciate our willingness — and our ability — to really show them behind the SQA curtain with Helix TCM."