The software development practices have to follow the most well-known standards.
Novacaixagalicia is a pioneer in the implementation of software quality certification processes and it has become one of the selected groups of Spanish companies with the CMMI level 5 certification. This certification guaranties the integrity of the software and its development process. “For us, it is necessary that our software development practice follows the most well-known standards, because we are always working with a lot of providers and this helps to obtain a better service” explains José Antonio Fernández, Architecture and International Support Director at Novacaixagalicia. The financial entity has also worked towards aspects such as ITIL, ISO 20000 and COBIT and it believes in SOA and Lean/Six Sigma as the new paradigm of the banking productivity transformation based on technology.
A platform owned by Novacaixagalicia (CGDN+) has been the base of the corporate strategy of IT management tools, regarding user’s requests, global dashboard, projects, software repository, configuration management, issue management... This platform “where we have spent a lot of time and efforts” is from 1987. Novacaixagalicia committed to develop this tool and in accordance with its philosophy they automated tasks.
Thus, since 7 years ago, the financial firm started to work in the new infrastructure “Metropoli” based on SOA, that would prepare the checKing implementation. “Our core was PL1 & DB2, IBM one hundred percent and we decided to move into SOA with all its consequences”. So the transactional load in SOA has increased from 14% to 18% in just one year. And this ratio is expected to grow dramatically in 2011.
ChecKing breaks in
Fernández highlights the hard work performed by the Quality and Testing area regarding quality and usability tasks. A team conformed by five people dedicated to analyse projects and performed technical revisions that assures that the architecture and quality of Novacaixagalicia are the ones pretended.
In 2007 Novacaixagalicia implemented checKing that fit perfectly in the strategy set by the Systems top management of the corporation. Some circumstances forced the implementation of this solution: there was a centralised platform that had to be integrated with a new architecture and the development force was quite inexpert in JAVA.
The election of checKing was based on four basic objectives: the need of automatisation and standardisation of the revisions, to obtain the quality demanded from the first moment, to reach the visibility over the quality, and to learn best practices. “We needed a dashboard on quality, integrated with the development teams and all their programming tools”.
According to Fernández, checKing brought a set of rules and the automatisation of the code validation. “We have to take into account that developers work autonomously and when they move into the consolidation environment, we validate the software pieces that they have integrated automatically. From the development environment we decide how good their projects are from a code level”. He also pointed out the transparency of the corporation as everybody can access to the same projects.
Contribution of checKing to the development processes of Novacaixagalicia
- Size, complexity and quality software visibility, that enables the deviation correction in the projects;
- Bug correction cost reduction. They are made, detected and corrected in the same phase;
- Software damage due to maintenance decrease;
- Programming best practice implementation;
- Easy the incorporation of new developers in the teams;
- Predictable quality levels in the projects;
- Software certification criteria setting for outsourcers’ deliveries.
When a development project starts, it is analysed and registered with checKing, the quality model’s parameters set up regarding the business, presentation and infrastructure layers. The code analysis is performed with checKing on daily bases, and the results are revised weekly to control the evolution of the projects. The communication is targeted from the very first day to the technical manager of the project and to the project manager from Novacaixagalicia. The reports of static analysis and duplicated code can be viewed online in the CGDN+. If the quality of a project falls below 85%, the reasons of this issue are analysed and escalated.
The dashboard for the System Direction is formed by metrics with the benchmark of their area versus the other 5 areas. “The area manager can see the evolution and find the hotspots”, in the words of Fernández. When a project is set into production, one of the basics is the code reliability indicator, a metric aligned with the business. After four years from the implementation of checKing as “early-adopters”, José Antonio Fernández highlights the visibility as the most valuable feature of this solution, as well as other essential aspects such as cost reduction, software damage decrease and best practices introduction. For Fernández, it is self-explaining the joining of new developers: “not so long ago a provider started an important project with us and it was revealing the evolution that it has to perform in order to reach the service level of the rest of the providers. Without this solution it would have been quite costly to have the developments of that provider at the same level as the rest. And the improvement was radical, we did it in only two months”. At the moment of its implementation, the average level of confidence in the organisation was around 53%. Meanwhile, in a couple of months, the quality of the code reached acceptable levels, steadying above 85% during 2010.
“Applications are the business's vital organs”
According to Forrester, the main problem that worries CIOs is the high maintenance costs of their systems, and the costs of bringing value to the business. In this same direction, a report from Cap Gemini, performed to 200 companies from North America and
Jesús Martín, CEO of Optimyth, comments this worrying panorama: “the applications are the business’s vital organs and the complexity is really high”.
In the IT departments there is a neverending fight for maintaining the application versus bringing value to the business while reducing costs. Thus, “there is a need of simplifying these applications and being more efficient and able to adapt ourselves to the new business trends”, in the words of Martín.
In this sense, the Optimyth’s solutions come to solve this issue. “Our offer covers three pillars: quality, productivity and application rationalisation”. The fourth pillar would be the maintainability, one of the main aspects observed by the Systems departments. 20 years ago maintaining an IT environment was cheaper that nowadays. Today, in some cases the 70%-90% of the total budget is only for the maintenance and this is so because IT departments have suffered a chaotic growth through the years, new functionalities have been added and there have been new acquisitions and mergers between companies. “The time to market has forced to use patches and complicate the applications. In big companies, the applications are based on obsolete technology, much of the programmers that used to develop them are no longer in the company and there is almost no documentation”, adds Jesus Martín.
The factors that affect the maintenance costs are quite diverse, but Martin highlights the complexity: “there might be an old infrastructure and you have to give modern services to the business”. To understand an application represents the 50% of the maintenance and, at this point, is where solutions as checKing AIM can allow the easy identification of the complexity of an application.
José Antonio Fernández, Novacaixagalicia: “With checKing QA we achieved that in two months a new provider could reach the same level of quality than the rest”.
Computing, 15th June 2011
Optimyth guaranties Novacaixagalicia's quality of the applications - Computing - 15jun2011 (ES)