Two things at once: Y2K and a massive outsourcing effort. Would the company survive?

Client: National Retailer

Category: Quality, Vendor, Program Management, Infrastructure, Knowledge Transfer

When a company determined that it was wiser to outsource all of its processing and business support services to a major vendor in the U.S., it defined 10 projects – 9 to unravel and transfer their systems and core business functions to the vendor and the 10th to ensure it was all working together and Y2K compliant.

ETHITEQUE was in charge of the 10th and most complex project.  Integration testing is notoriously difficult and this is ETHITEQUE’s specialty.  Despite being contracted to see “if the systems still worked together”, we highlighted that in fact there were three questions:

  • Do the systems and supporting data still work together?
  • Is the Vendor Y2K compliant?
  • Will the Business survive after all of these changes?

The third question, of course, is the most critical.  Technology experts often forget that just because the systems and data are working together, the changes may not actually support core business functions.

ETHITEQUE set out the “Enterprise Integration Test Strategy” which included defining the quality management criteria for the other 9 projects.  The Enterprise Integration Test, the 10th project, was an integrated test of both business processes and technology tests.

Because the client was not expert in proper test practices, we were able to assist them in identifying the best staff within their organization to assist in building and executing these important test cases.

As is commonly the case, the legal contract with the vendor had not provisioned for proper test support during a 5 month test cycle.  ETHITEQUE was able to negotiate with the vendor to secure daily defect review meetings as well as support expectations for bug fixes.  Later, the vendor confessed that they agreed to our terms because they realized that of all of their clients, we were the ones that could prove they were Y2K compliant and they asked to use our test results with their other clients.

In fact, our tests were able to identify two major Y2K issues that the vendor’s own testers had missed, and because we found them during the test cycle in a structured and formal way, the vendor was able to fix them before cutover.

Negotiated proper support - above and beyond contractual agreement - from vendor
Introduced quality management best practices to client (who then built a test department from our tools and techniques)
Proved vendor was Y2K compliant and that the transition to vendor would support the business

We were pleased to learn that the test department that our client set up after we finished the project were staffed by the very people we had introduced to testing.  They enjoyed the experience so much that they chose to shift their career paths.