Case Study

A GLOBAL MEDICAL COMPANY SOFTWARE TEAM SCALING JOURNEY

BACKGROUND

Point Conception Medical (PCM) was a small startup that was acquired by a global medical device company in 2012. At the time of acquisition, the company’s only product was an endoscopic camera system. As they were a small startup, the team was focused on rapidly developing code for the product; time to market was the driving factor, and the software testing and quality processes were not fully mature. With the acquisition, the team grew and went from supporting one product to developing and supporting eight products with interconnectivity between the products. As a result, the team was divided into several teams, and the company’s future growth plans are to double the number of teams in the software engineering group.

CHALLENGES

Startup mode development is different than an established organization process. As the software team grew quickly they identified some challenges:

  • Visibility -The team expanded, more code was generated, more tests were written and more cross dependencies occurred. It became more difficult to gain visibility across the entire software development pipeline, understand the software’s status and effectively plan new activities.
  • Technical debt – Like many startups with small teams, they tried to move fast and as a result, they created technical debt with the understanding that the debt would need to be paid at a later stage. The team got to the point where they knew they had to decrease the technical debt in an efficient manner.
  • Quality status clarity – The team found it hard to define what is quality and how to measure it. Traditional software metrics like the number of bugs, pass/fail tests, or production issues were not sufficient for a deep quality understanding.
  • Quality issues – The team’s old code was highly coupled and any change in one place caused problems in other areas of the code. Unit verifications couldn’t answer the need for an overall End to End testing, ensuring proper workflow across the board.

SOLUTION – QUALITY INITIATIVE PROCESS

Director of Engineering, Noah Daniels outlined the following:

The company team started building and defining their new software development and testing processes which included three elements:

  • Recruit a new QA Automation team
  • Adopt Test Driven Development (TDD) approach
  • Adopt SeaLights Quality Intelligence Platform to gain visibility into the release status and efficiently plan activities based on real-time data.

Quality Intelligence technology facilitates the collation and analysis of data from multiple sources to provide software development teams with sufficient insight and visibility into factors affecting the velocity, quality, and efficiency of the software engineering processes and deliverables.

ACTIONABLE PLAN

The following plan was defined:

  • Engineers started practicing test-driven development (TDD), avoiding future test quality debt.
  • QA engineers were added to the scrum team so that they could be responsible for End to End testing.
  • SeaLights platform was added to the toolset in order to:
  • Make data-informed decisions where additional tests should be written, avoiding unnecessary test development.
  • Adopt a zero quality risks policy. Identify new code that is not covered by any test and ensures that new code is not moved to production before it is tested. 
  • Build a testing plan for quality technical debt based on code modification in order to avoid writing tests for code that end users have been using for years and has not changed.
  • Gain visibility to the real quality status of their software across products and across teams.

OUTCOME

The team succeeded to build a quality culture, mature the engineering process, improve software development velocity, and improve the products’ quality. Going forward, additional teams and environments will use SeaLights and adopt the new engineering processes.

ABOUT THE COMPANY

In this case is a global medical device company and leader in new product development and medical education in orthopedics. With a corporate mission of Helping Surgeons Treat Their Patients Better™, the company has pioneered the field of arthroscopy and develops more than 1,000 innovative products and procedures each year.

ABOUT SEALIGHTS

SeaLights is the #1 Quality Intelligence Platform for Software Development. It helps you increase velocity of your engineering teams by using cross-stack quality analytics throughout your code activity, tests, and releases. SeaLights discovers Test Quality Analytics to help you get more from tests with a “less tests approach,” utilizes Test Impact Analytics to test smarter, and applies release Quality Analytics to determine your release readiness.