In common with over 60% of the UK’s higher education establishments, Bristol uses the Strategic Information Technology Systems (SITS) student management system to store, administer and manage all aspects of the student lifecycle from initial enquiry and application, right through to their degree. However, having been in operation since 1997, the university’s legacy SITS application was outdated, fragmented and no longer fit for purpose. The vision was to implement a new integrated system that would support staff and students to a level that had never been possible before.
“We looked at all the alternatives and decided to replace the old SITS system with a more modern version rather than migrating to a different solution,” says University of Bristol’s test manager, Nigel Summers.
A team of between 20 and 30 technicians is now 20% through the major two-year SITS replacement project called Student Lifecycle Support Program. Addressing all the student facing systems in the university is a highly complex undertaking that involves interfacing with many university systems so stringent regression testing was vital and automation was the only viable option.
“Because of the length of the program, there were going to be many phases of delivery, so it was clear that a very large amount of regression testing would be required,” explains Summers. “The alternative of doing it manually would have meant many man-years of manual testing work and would have extended the timeframe considerably. Automating the testing allows us to do it much more quickly and cheaply.”
The university had been using Micro Focus Quality Center (QC) and Unified Functional Testing (UFT) but as well as increased automation, it wanted to migrate to a test tool that would support its Agile approach to project management. After researching the market, a Proof of Concept confirmed that Micro Focus ALM Octane was the best fit. ALM Octane is an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) tool designed to support Waterfall and Agile projects and make it easier to track and manage programs of work.
To configure ALM Octane and integrate it with other tools, Micro Focus recommended its Gold Partner, Infuse, a specialist in test automation and performance engineering.
Senior consultant, Colin Lindsay explains: “The development process at the University of Bristol has always been handled in Jira so we had to bridge the gap between ALM Octane and Jira. I set up integrations that allow the defect management in ALM Octane to be mirrored into the Jira flow. I also set up an automated regression system with a Continuous Integration (CI) server using Jenkins, Git and Bitbucket linked to ALM Octane, so now we can run a nightly regression pack which reports directly into ALM Octane.”