NZ Post looks to future

Automation tools save up to 80% of the testing time taken by manual processes

When NZ Post announced in May the introduction of new post codes and a new mail distribution model that would eventually see 500 jobs go, it was putting in place part of its “Future Post” strategy. This should have been implemented at least a year previously.

Under the new post code system, the country is divided into 1,850 new post code areas, with up to 10,000 delivery addresses per post code.

The delay was largely caused by NZ Post’s NPAD (National Post Addressing Database) core project, which contains broad information, such as the physical location of rural letter boxes, and which feeds into several other applications. The current version is the third after two that were “abysmal failures” and “cost us quite a bit of money”, according to applications change manager Ben Tuiomanufili.

The problem — and this was one of 40 active projects under the Future Post umbrella — was manual testing.

“[NPAD] was released into the production environment, which caused more problems than it solved,” Tuiomanufili says. “A lot of people threw up their hands and left. It took a new project manager to pull it all together.”

The first release of NPAD was in August last year, the second in September and the third in March.

The answer lay all the time at NZ Post, as shelfware. Tuiomanufili says the organisation was going down the path of seeking tools for automation and had put out a request for proposal.

Then, he discovered that NZ Post already had a full set of Compuware testing tools sitting idle as shelfware, despite the regular invoices still coming across his desk.

The organisation had, in fact, owned the tools, which he says did everything they were after, for more than four years.

Implementation of the tools enabled full regression testing to be done through automation, which Tuiomanufili says saved up to 80% of the testing time taken by manual processes.

“We can now measure what we do,” he says. “We’re using the Compuware tools for all the projects where testing is needed. This has brought in [proper] disciplines. We were never able to quantify things before because everything was manual.”

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