It's been a year since we introduced the IQMS Community Server. It's clear to me that this project is "game-changing technology" on many levels.
The IQMS development effort encompasses many different departments. All have been directly affected by the advent of Community Server.
The design team is charged with evaluating each software change request (SCR) in regards to the module(s) to be affected. The Community Server users have averaged three SCRs per day including weekends and holidays. The content ranges from brilliant to not so brilliant. Sometimes it's a challenge to really understand what the author of the SCR is trying to achieve. This is when the collaboration tools (ability of the author to include other documents including screen shots) become essential. When a designer approves the SCR he or she must then submit a workable design to the programmers and mark the SCR as being "Approved" and "Designed". Community Server SCR Workflow enables the life cycle of an SCR to be transparent to not only IQMS employees but to all customers.
The programmers are sent the SCR designs with enough information to complete the development. Some designs require significant detail including changes to database structures, flow charts and most importantly screen shots. Other easier designs are straight forward but pretty much always include screen shots. All EnterpriseIQ modules are "owned" by a designer/programmer/tester team. The average tenure of these IQMS employees is over 6 years with senior members over 10 years. This is why the constraining activity to fulfill SCRs is not the programming department. They can knock this stuff out with uncanny speed due to their experience and the modern object oriented development tools they utilize. They are also very good at what they do.
When the programmers are finished they check their development source code and scripts into our state of the art version control system. The Community Server workflow is updated which notifies the testing department that the ball is now in their court. This is when it gets very interesting. The testing technician is charged with testing the development on many different Oracle and operating systems as well as adherence to our own "prime directive". Our prime directive, unlike the Star Trek one, has to do with not undertaking any development that will negatively affect how our customers are using the current functionality of a module. At times this directive can be difficult to adhere to when customer users find ways to use undocumented functionality that we hadn't thought of.
At the end of the testing phase the Community Server workflow is updated which sends the SCR to the Documentation department. Each SCR that has been approved, designed, programmed and tested is now documented based on input from the SCR (what we want to achieve), the design (how are we going to achieve it), the programmers and testing technician notes. As it happens the documentation department technicians also retest the change to fully understand what needs to be documented. This method is the next best thing to having the change being used in a production environment.
The IQMS development workflow process can best be described as an "Agile Software Development System". All work is done in house which allows complete control over both the process and the outcome.
My next blog will discuss the impact that Community Server has had on our Training and Professional Services departments and our product offerings.