IT headcount at Transpacific balloons to meet growth

Rapid growth forced the waste management company to reassess its IT projects and bring software development inhouse

Following two years of extensive merger and acquisition activity, Transpacific Industries has increased staff numbers in its IT department from six to 55 in less than six months.

This rapid growth forced the Brisbane headquartered waste management company to reassess its IT projects and bring software development inhouse.

Transpacific is a public company with 38 processing plants and transfer stations across Australia and New Zealand. The company has over 150 waste management sites in Australia and 60 in New Zealand. It also boasts a growing energy business refining used oil into fuel and high grade lubricant basestocks, as well as an established heavy-duty commercial vehicle business.

The merger and acquisitions phase began in April 2005 and involved small family businesses as well as companies with hundreds of employees.

Transpacific Group IT manager, Keith Dallinger, says the challenge has been integrating business systems as diverse as using whiteboards, outmoded legacy systems, customised accounting and logistic systems into one fully integrated ERP system.

"It also required developing new software solutions at a fast pace without compromising the quality or the delivery of the company's operations and services," he says.

To deal with this fast changing environment, Dallinger said automated software testing was a key issue.

"We needed an automated solution that could cope with our rigorous software testing requirements which included integrating three different development languages and technologies including a ColdFusion Web application," he says.

"With a diversely distributed workforce we believed a web application better positioned us to provide a good service to all our users.

"With increased demand from the business and pressure to roll out product, we had to get smarter with the testing and development to provide quality solutions in a really tight time frame."

Manual testing is extremely labour-intensive taking hours to test every possible combination. Automated testing allows for scripted testing which is then rerun like a macro in Excel, in a matter of minutes, and based on whether the code works or not, there is a pass or fail measurement.

To deal with its complex environment, Dallinger introduced SilkTest from Borland Software.

He says SilkTest was set up within a day to enable the creation of test scripts for Transpacific's three distinct languages and development environments. After a two week period the results were analysed.

Dallinger said it handled everything they threw at it and what previously took days was now completed within hours.

"Plus we are getting consistent results unlike manual testing where each test is conducted diffferently," he adds.

SilkTest now performs all Transpacific's automated function testing which has drastically reduced risk.

"Tests are consistent from build to build and there has been major cost savings because of the reduced time taken in testing and the ability to meet stringent business deadlines," Dallinger says.

"The waste management business is extremely competitive and the company needs to be able to adapt to changing market conditions quickly and efficiently."

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