Global Radar Company Realizes Better Resource Planning and Risk Reduction with TestTrack
Enterprise Electronics Corporation (EEC), a global leader in Doppler technology, builds and installs turnkey weather detecting radar systems and satellite ground stations, in addition to offering hardware and software solutions for collecting, analyzing, viewing, and distributing space-based satellite weather data.
Rock-solid test management is mandatory when a company writes all of its own customized software packages for hundreds of clients. And, when 90 percent of business is international, as in EEC's case, cobbling together spreadsheets and emails just isn't a sustainable way to keep developers on the same page.
As EEC's business grew in both breadth and depth, the company needed to lock down the way it managed software testing—not only to simplify the product management process, but also because it's critical that each radar system is demonstrably tested to avoid a significant safety risk for people and assets. In addition to the safety-critical nature of their products, the need for better traceability and open collaboration among disparate teams added to the pressure of EEC's growing pains.
"When you're installing national weather radar networks, there is a large portion of work that takes place beyond the factory," EEC President Chris Goode said. "As we roll out complex software programs and hardware structures, establishing and maintaining a dialogue with everyone from the engineers to the development and deployment teams is essential—and it wasn't happening as effectively or efficiently as it could have."
Calming the Storm with TestTrack
It became clear to EEC that a professional-level test and workflow management solution was needed. EEC first tried an open source database system to capture issues and manage workflows. The system fell short, however; it just wasn't capable of meeting the full scope of EEC's needs. As business continued to increase, the need to centralize testing processes also grew more critical. With millions of lines of code and multiple programmers working on each project, the company still had no way to effectively capture, organize, assign, and track issues in the field.
"TestTrack cut our response time from weeks to days."
—Albert Free, Systems Engineering Director
EEC discovered TestTrack, Seapine's application lifecycle management solution, in 2000. Simple to deploy and endlessly scalable, TestTrack immediately fulfilled every item on EEC's wish list. Customizability, platform neutrality, and features like a highly-configurable workflow engine only added to the already appealing solution.
"TestTrack cut our response time from weeks to days," said Albert Free, EEC's Systems Engineering Director. "Instead of emailing issues back and forth, TestTrack's remote capabilities allow software managers to log issues directly into the system, immediately initiating the resolution process."
TestTrack's seamless workflow and issue tracking capabilities proved so comprehensive that EEC soon began exploring where else TestTrack could improve its systems. Within a few years of initial deployment, EEC also implemented TestTrack in its customer support department to help coordinate repairs and streamline maintenance for between 800 and 900 active radar systems around the world.
In addition, TestTrack's requirements management capabilities have helped EEC implement a number of business development process improvements, resulting in tremendous savings in time and money. For example, every RFP has unique technical requirements that EEC must consider in order to determine actual cost-to-build. EEC puts a potential project's technical requirements into TestTrack as if it was a live development project and completes impact analysis at the RFP stage. TestTrack allows the company to craft more accurate resource plans before engagements even begin.
"Using TestTrack to form our proposals gives us a modicum of risk assessment we just didn't have before," Free said. "Plus, customers these days expect to get exactly what they paid for—not an interpretation that has gone through a bunch of people. When we use TestTrack to win business and generate a test procedure and deliver a requirement, we can more accurately meet expectations."
Lifecycle Perspective Saves and Protects
TestTrack has become an indispensable part of business for EEC. The ability to synchronize global personnel into a "closed loop" system offers a complete lifecycle perspective on product development—essential for systems that are built to last decades.
"With TestTrack, we can capture the entire lifecycle of our rad ar systems and identify any systemic issues," Free said. "This makes the systems that much more accurate, and makes our clients that much happier."
Adoption of TestTrack has been as impressive as the results. Its intuitive interface made it possible for team members at all levels of EEC—from the bids and proposals teams to PhDs and engineers—to get up and running with TestTrack from Day 1. TestTrack simply works.
"When we bring in customers for training and they see we have this kind of system in place, it's beyond impressive. TestTrack instills confidence and makes EEC stand out above the rest."
—Albert Free, Systems Engineering Director
The software recently proved its value again when EEC acquired a satellite ground system business. The new subsidiary had its own set of testing procedures and records which could have been extremely time-consuming to incorporate. Not with TestTrack.
"The ability to take a completely separate database and import it into TestTrack was great," Free said. "What would have taken weeks t o sort and enter into any other system took just days instead."
It's not just EEC that's been impressed with TestTrack, either. A Swedish client recently inquired about how the company does its product testing; Free was only too happy to walk them through the software. The result was a true "wow" moment for EEC and their client.
"They were thrilled EEC had something in place that would capture everything," Free said. "When we bring in customers for training and they see we have this kind of system in place, it's beyond impressive. TestTrack instills confidence and makes EEC stand out above the rest."