Karolinska Institutet: From Unstructured IT Projects to Collaboration and Control

Karolinska Institutet transitioned from unstructured and person-dependent quality assurance to streamlining their IT projects. The solution was to develop a process for requirements, testing, and bug reporting, and to building a standard template for IT projects in Reqtest. According to Tina Harberts, testleader at KI, the new process saves time for KI and increases the chances of a successful project by 80-90%.

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Karolinska Institutet (KI) is one of the world’s leading medical universities, responsible for the largest share of medical research and education in Sweden. A crucial part of ensuring KI’s functionality is its IT department.

– We have at least 15-20 active IT projects of various sizes running at the same time. To work efficiently, we need a shared approach. Over the years, we have worked intensively to align with the organization and developed a method where we offer support from start to finish, says Tina Harberts, test leader/QA at KI.

Small bugs lead to significant consequences

KI began using Reqtest in 2016, initially on a smaller scale to test IT systems before Go Live. At that time, the organization lacked a unified structure for quality assurance, relying entirely on individual willingness and competence to manage testing and bug reports.

– Before Reqtest, we had test cases in Excel, Word, and on post-it notes. It was incredibly time-consuming to organize and posed the risk of significant problems, says Tina and continues.

– For example, we discovered a bug in our IAM system. Imagine the cost per hour if none of your users can log in anymore! When the entire staff is deprived access to a key system, you realize how crucial quality assurance is.

IAM project became a successful template project

During the implementation of a new IAM system, KI realized the need to establish a unified approach within the IT department for project management. With the assistance of their contact person at Reqtest, they set up an initial “template project” in the tool.

– It was a huge project where we would connect the entire flow from requirements and testing to bug reports. We started by collecting requirements, both from the old system, interviewing end-users, and conducting workshops within the project group. Then, we structured the work in Reqtest, connecting the requirements to our tests. One of the advantages of Reqtest is that the tool can be customized to KI’s processes, says Tina.

The template project was so successful that KI still uses it as the standard for all new IT projects. It has contributed to higher project quality, while also reducing the startup phase for new projects.

– Today, all our IT projects are run in the same way. We always start with an analysis: Why, What, and How. Then, we define requirements related to the processes and finally create test cases and conduct testing directly in Reqtest. The templates for writing requirements and test cases are already defined in Reqtest and can be easily cloned for new projects. This saves a lot of time and allows us to work cohesively. All of this contributes to knowledge being present throughout the organization, not just in the minds of individuals.

A hallelujah moment for the project manager

Working systematically in Reqtest not only simplifies Tina’s job as a test leader but also helps the project managers to report facts and get a clear and concise overview.

– In Reqtest, everything is easily accessible, and you can provide an accurate and complete picture at any time. For our project managers, having all the information gathered and being able to generate a status report directly from Reqtest was almost a hallelujah moment. This, in turn, greatly facilitates decision-making for a steering group to decide on Go or No go.”

The value of having a comprehensive view of what needs to be delivered (requirements), test coverage, completed tests, the number of bugs, and status cannot be overstated, according to Tina.

– You increase your chances of a successful delivery without major problems by 80-90%. You can never achieve that with Excel lists or scattered post-it notes.

Now that KI has a unified way to ensure the quality of its IT projects, the next step is to achieve a seamless workflow. To do that, they need to integrate other support systems into Reqtest.

– We see that we can reduce the amount of manual work in various systems by getting an automated workflow. To do that, we will need help from Reqtest for integration, and I know we will get it,” concludes Tina.


Tina’s 4 tips for streamlining quality assurance

It’s a constant struggle to find time for quality assurance; usually, things need to be done quickly, and problems are addressed “later.” The trick is to get involved early, and it’s a long-term effort.

1. Get Leadership On Board

Highlight the results of using Reqtest: that it’s a simple and effective way to take control and reduce risks. Remind them that not ensuring quality can be very costly. It’s significantly better and cheaper to dig into needs (leading to requirements) instead of quickly buying a system and then having the organization adapt to it.

– We in the IT department notice that we are met with a completely different level of respect internally when the systems work as intended.

2. Involve End Users

Our projects are always based on users’ needs, and they are involved in both requirements gathering and testing. Regarding the IAM system, we contacted end-users and invited stakeholders to participate in testing, giving them the opportunity to influence before the system was deployed. The opportunity to “touch and feel” and have an impact was well-received, and we gathered a great group that participated in several on-site test meetings (participants gathered in a local setting).

3. Start with Why

We usually start with Why, then What, and finally How. The advantage is that it doesn’t lock you into old patterns but instead lifts your gaze and questions why you do certain things, what you really aim to achieve, etc.

4. Keep It Simple

Start simple and build a basic structure. Develop and refine it based on the organization’s needs, utilizing the high level of service available with Reqtest. Bounce ideas and come up with the best solutions together with your contact person.

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