Innovation and collaborative, synchronized program management for new programs
Karstadt Warenhaus GmbH (Karstadt) sells goods in 79 department stores in prime city locations in German metropolises.
Karstadt Warenhaus GmbH (Karstadt), a German department store that was founded in 1881, has a strong reputation as witnessed by its 90 percent brand recognition. Today, Karstadt leverages this brand in a multichannel strategy: Millions of clients per year visit the 79 warehouses at prime sites in city center locations throughout the country. With around 15,000 employees, the company generates annual sales of 2,1 billion euros. The firm is also developing an upgraded online store at Karstadt.de, which has about 66,000 items in stock. Both chan-nels are meant to complement one another and contribute to an optimal shopping experience.
For years Karstadt’s information technol-ogy (IT) has been managed at store locations with the branch software isi, based on the standard software BeanStore™ from the British provider PCMS™. The previous version of Karstadt’s online store, delivered using the online store platform Demandware, was devel-oped by service providers in accordance with firm’s requirements.
In a relaunch of the online store in 2013, cloud-based Polarion ALM™ software, which is developed by product lifecycle management (PLM) specialist Siemens Digital Industries Software, was used for the first time in project implementation. The functions that were used included requirements manage-ment and test scenarios derived from it, and test management. The cloud solution made it possible to avoid the initial expenditure for setting up a system, and further mainte-nance expenditures were also avoided. In 2013, when a separate center for testing the branch software and the online store Karstadt.de was built as part of the IT orga-nization, they remembered Polarion: “Using the software as a service saved us installa-tions and subsequent maintenance on our computers,” remembers Julia Richter, test and release manager at Karstadt. “Low costs and the option to change the number of licenses on short notice also impressed us, as did the user friendliness and customiz-ability of the solution.”
Karstadt is using Polarion SaaS in order to maintain strong software quality in its frequent and comprehensive new versions. Users include the test center, the IT organi-zation and other departments as well as external service providers in Germany and Coventry, England.
“The structured, intersite teamwork accel-erates the processes considerably,” Richter points out. Developers find all of the information about a ticket or defect in context on the platform and can immedi-ately trace problem cases. Since developers have switched to Jira project tracking software for requirements and error management in the karstadt.de environment, information can be easily exchanged bi-directionally via a standard connector. This prevents duplicating efforts and accelerates cooperation.
The underlying requirements documents for the approval of new releases are easily uploaded. Thanks to Polarion LiveDoc software technology, text documents and tables can be imported and furnished with keywords in order to edit them centrally online. So each requirement and its version can be separated in a more granu-lar way. This speeds up work processes and improves collaboration throughout the team.
In the next step, test scenarios for single requirements are created and then linked to overall requirements. In the process, users are not only able to resort to a pool of existing test cases, but they can also easily convert and re-use supplied templates. “Polarion can be very flexibly adapted in all areas, in the templates as well as in the user interface,” notes Richter.
The fundamental workflows and proce-dures have been tailored to demands and structures at Karstadt. The testers, mostly college students, are able to manage immediately with the straightforward, English-language user guide. They draw on the existing pool of open test cases and process them with automatic transparency and traceability. Service providers are assigned to bugs via workflow. Status information composed by the service providers flows back to the IT organization.
There are numerous options for control. They start with the well-organized start screen of the software. “Here I can group my items the way I need them,” says Richter. “That way I always keep track of whether all the requirements are covered with tests, which percentage they have achieved or which test objects go with which requirements.”
And if requirements are changed, all related test cases are updated accordingly. This enables Karstadt to be sure that test cases are executed as desired. Thanks to this transparency, users can selectively control the progress in the individual projects without creating comprehensive evaluations. “I see the open errors and am rapidly able to give meaningful feedback, regardless of the nature of the inquiries,” says Richter.
Richter is easily able to generate manage-ment reports that must regularly be sent to management. These internal documents show the state of the software during tests, and document in which time period the errors were eliminated.
“Through the structured test implementa-tion with Polarion we have improved the quality of our software,” Richter summarizes. “The number of errors reported from application support is steadily decreasing.”
In the future this will become even more important. Although seven to 10 versions of the branch software have to be tested every year, including hot fixes, the online store test automation runs in two-week cycles.