A central repository that can pick up what multiple projects have in common has been one of the key benefits of adopting application lifecycle management tools, says Land Information New Zealand
LINZ was formed in 1996 out of a number of government agencies and, as a result, inherited several systems and IT infrastructures. It is now looking to remove system duplication and multiple architectures while at the same time using Borland’s lifecycle systems to improve both business requirements and definition processes.
Debbie Ward, manager of business engagement for LINZ’s IT department, says IT has always taken a formal approach to lifecycle management. However, increasing customer demands and a move to more electronic delivery meant LINZ had to develop an integrated, end-to-end solution to take its lifecycle management to the next level.
“This will enable LINZ to capture requirements and identify opportunities to revise, rationalise and standardise IT options,” she says.
“The business determines what the business requirements are and this determines the way we support them. We have to look for opportunities to re-use and share applications where possible, to provide more efficient delivery of electronic information and data.”
She says several tools were reviewed before Borland was chosen. We chose Borland because its tools were both a good match and affordable.
“Re-use is the key. It [the lifecycle tool] enables us to look at options in the early phase of a project.
“A sign-off at the end of each phase addresses issues of scope. We’ve done a lot of training across the business so IT understands the importance of scope.
“It’s been an evolutionary improvement process, with the ability to integrate from one phase to another.”
The first step was to better define and document LINZ’s lifecycle process. Now, with the documented processes in a central repository, the IT team can leverage resources for parallel development across the department.
LINZ doesn’t use the full Borland suite. Requirements are managed and traced through the project lifecycle by Borland’s Caliber tool, and made visible to the development team via StarTeam.
The developers produce applications in the Microsoft .Net environment. StarTeam provides software configuration management by enabling centralised control of all project assets, including integrated requirements, defect-tracking, file-versioning and threaded discussions.
LINZ also standardised on Borland’s Together modelling tool, to establish collaborative models that cover common functionality. Together uses Unified Modelling Language to provide common diagrams for software design. This gives a consistent view of system design and the ability to re-use information. The biggest project LINZ is working on is redeveloping an application to support the Overseas Investment Office. This includes capturing the requirements, as well as building the design for the application, to support both the review and approval of any overseas investment in New Zealand.
Ward expects cost savings through highlighting common areas of functionality, so the IT team doesn’t have to start from scratch when it needs to capture new business requirements.