This British global fashion retailer has a chain of high street shops and was founded in 1969. The chain sells womenswear, menswear, and clothing for teens.
Large Fashion Retailer
London, United Kingdom
The retailer started as a single fashion store and quickly grew to become a leading fast-fashion brand, with 500+ stores across the UK and Ireland. At the time of their project with Inspired Testing, their transactional website allowed them to ship to over 65 countries worldwide, generating around 20% of their total sales and positioning them as one of Britain’s leading retail stores.
Inspired Testing Supports the Merchandise Hierarchy Change. Merchandise Hierarchy refers to the way the retailer’s buying departments are organised and how their reporting information is compiled and analysed. These Merchandise Hierarchy changes are implemented at decisive points in the retail business cycle as the retailer moves into new product areas, explores new ways of trading and working, or manages out redundant and under-utilised departments.
The overall objective of this project was to improve operational efficiency and reporting and to provide support for the retailer to move into new product areas by aligning its product information to match its customers’ fashion needs. In the past, Hierarchy changes have been handled as an annual BAU task by the Service Teams. However, the retailer’s management team noted that since the previous Hierarchy Change, in April 2016, the retailer’s application landscape had evolved significantly following the delivery of large programs of work to replace some of their core systems.
Considering the extensive changes to the overall system landscape and the fact that the BAU teams would not be coordinating the change, it was agreed that a project would be implemented to deliver this change and Inspired Testing was chosen as the project test partner.
The expected outcome was that Merchandise Hierarchy changes, as well as their system impact, could be fully understood and executed without risk to the retailer’s business. Inspired Testing was appointed as the quality assurance team to test the configuration within each system while considering dependencies and batch timings to ensure that changes were seamlessly reflected across the application landscape in a controlled way. The Inspired Testing team worked with the retailer to clearly define the scope of the impact resulting from the Hierarchy change. The scope of the impacted systems originated as a pre-defined list of nearly 30 unique systems that would be potentially affected by the change in Hierarchy. This was clarified through workshops further defining how these systems interacted and how information was passed from core business systems to other functional systems, including the data warehouse. The idea of logically streaming the Hierarchy change and its associated testing was a fundamental shift in the test design and allowed for improved coordination, focus and, where possible, for parallel testing to take place where there was no impact.
The Inspired Testing team coordinated this complex test function using a purpose-built management tool (a runbook) which provided progress, dependencies and coverage of the overall test function. A daily meeting was held to track the progress and specific actions were taken to manage any slippage in the testing. Delays would mean that certain dependencies could not be achieved and the overall deadline would be impacted.
The Inspired Testing team was also responsible for coordinating the test environments, which was further complicated by several different strategic projects also requiring access to these test environments. Once the test environments were established with the necessary information set, the Inspired Testing team worked with the retailer’s subject matter experts (SME), to test whether the Hierarchy change was completed consistently. The change originated in the core systems and worked its way through various peripheral, but important, systems.
This was a grueling process that required extensive coordination, replanning and excellent communication across various stakeholders to achieve the test results needed to assure the business that the Hierarchy changes would be successful.
Benefit to the client after implementation
The testing was completed and all relevant systems were tested and signed off by the relevant sponsor. The closure report showed that the test exit criteria was fully met and approved by all business stakeholders. The Inspired Testing team documented their learnings and the retailer was positioned to successfully run Merchandise Hierarchy changes in the future. In conclusion, the Hierarchy change ran smoothly in the production environment and the testing proved invaluable not only in quality assurance, but in helping to coordinate the business change.