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TFS Release Management reduces Isah’s testing time and improves quality

Isah develops business software specifically for the manufacturing industry. The company’s portfolio consists of a large number of modules that are tested extensively before their roll-out. Isah used a lot of automated tests, but activities such as configuring the test environment and checking results required manual work. In order to reduce the required time, Isah involved Xpirit to implement TFS’s release management. As a result, the time required for testing was reduced substantially, and at the same time, quality was improved, due to more regular testing and shorter timeframes for acting upon test results.

Extensive portfolio requires continuous testing

Isah’s solutions combine ERP, engineering, service and project management, and more than 700 manufacturing companies throughout the world work with Isah Business Software. The extensive portfolio addresses a wide range of business requirements, with new modules being added and existing modules being enhanced continuously. Naturally, the need for business continuity of Isah’s customers imposes stringent requirements on the quality of the software, which calls for continuous testing.

Extensive portfolio requires continuous testing

Implementation of release management requires specific expertise

The human effort required for continuous testing was substantial, and a most logical step was to automate the testing process by means of TFS’s release management. Although Isah already worked with Microsoft’s TFS and employed a large number of software engineers, it lacked dedicated expertise and experience in implementing the release management module, so it arranged an initial meeting with Xpirit in September 2016.

Jos van Baal, Manager Research & Development at Isah: “Integration of the test suite of release management within Isah’s environment entailed a large number of specific issues, and it was clear that we didn’t have the right expertise. So we signed a contract with Xpirit, but during the first phase of the project things turned out to be more complex than expected.” Tonnie Tholen, Isah’s Manager Development, adds: “For instance, converting the XAML shadow builds to Build vNext, building the IOS app in the build pipeline, setting up a server on Hyper-V and restoring an IsahExpert database on the server, installing a dashboard, etcetera. A lot of things that made the project all but straightforward.”

More work than expected, while Isah’s regular work continues

Xpirit started in the middle of 2017, and carried out most of the work, with involvement of one of Isah’s software engineers. Initially some 60% of the work was performed by Xpirit and 40% by Isah, but as time went on, this was increased to approx. 80% on the part of Xpirit. Tonnie Tholen: “The arrangement with Xpirit was that they would implement and configure the release management module, and that we would complete the work. This is fully in line with Xpirit’s mission: enabling the customer and making themselves superfluous. And because of their excellent transfer of knowhow, they certainly did enable us to do the rest of our work ourselves. However, due to our regular development workload, we have so far only managed to implement the automated testing facilities in approx. 50% of our modules.”

Investment pays off

Jos van Baal describes the pay-off: “Although the required investment was more than we had expected, we can certainly see the pay-off. We already had a lot of automated tests, but configuring the test environment, starting the tests and checking the results involved substantial amounts of manual work. This is now automated and most of it is done at nighttime. This saves us a lot of time, and frees up our staff for more development work. What’s more, we’re testing much more frequently, which reduces the number of issues we encounter during each testing cycle. And because we’re resolving the issues much more promptly, it involves less work and time. Needless, to say, our overall quality increases. In short, less work, shorter time to market, and higher quality. And once we’ve automated the testing cycle of all our modules, we’ll certainly reap the benefits of our investment.”

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Investment pays off

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