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LS Retail | 04 March 2015

LS Retail’s path to continuous delivery

LS Retail’s path to continuous delivery

What’s behind all this?

We want to give the over 200 LS Retail Partners and their many customers, plus other retail and hospitality professionals, a glimpse into the evolution of our solution delivery. Gua and her colleagues knew that customer expectations have never been higher. She thought to herself: “People with a mini-computer in their pocket have shifted the power from companies to consumers. They want to be able to shop anywhere and anytime. With so much information about products at their fingertips, they’re putting more and more pressure on the retailer to provide faster and more efficient service, at competitive prices.”

Chasing the cloud

Gua’s first goal was to find out what the Cloud meant for LS Nav. She thought: “I need to look at Cloud-related issues like hosting, the vertical solution, ease to scale up and down, subscription, multi-tenant (using the same code base for all customers) and always being on the newest release.” It was the last challenge that kept her awake at night. “I need to make upgrades and updates smooth and with as little manual interference as possible. “The release cycle of yearly major releases is not helping. For us a major release equals major upgrade equals major anxiety. We need a better way.”

Continuous delivery is the key

To be able to keep up with high customer expectations, Gua knew she would need to embrace changing requirements. “I have to shift my team quickly from one project to another. I have to deliver frequently, get feedback and make updates smoother and more automatic.” Then she got it: “The key is to be more agile. My team has to take U-turns when needed and plug in new requirements, whenever we want.”

Updates are the new release

The team started looking at their processes, and what they needed to do, to be able to change. Gua decided: “Number one, we need to invest in infrastructure and test automation to be able to shorten the time it takes to ship the product. “Number two, to get customers updates quick and easily, we need to shorten the time between releases. Let’s go for regular and smaller updates, like what Microsoft is doing for Dynamics NAV.” She had more ideas: “We need to use the Agile methodology and Scrum. Let‘s run two-week sprints and then release cumulative updates after every two sprints. “We need to invest in infrastructure and test automation to shorten the release cycle. Let’s create an automated test and then run it hundreds or thousands of times. Then we can expand our test coverage, find defects earlier, and focus on manual test efforts when it’s really needed.” The process unfolds To get familiar with the automated test thinking, Gua’s team decided to select areas in the solution that had high risk or where the manual testing was time & resource-consuming. Gua recalls fondly: “In just six few weeks, we wrote almost 500 tests. What a tremendous achievement! “We also set up a management system and a build server which allows for continuous integration and gated check-ins. Now we can automatically import and compile the NAV code and run unit tests against any changes made to the source code. If anything fails, we’ll notify the developer.”  

Easier, simpler and faster - With partners in mind

The team is also focusing more and more on some easy-to-use and rapid implementation and practical tools for the thousands of retail and hospitality companies around the world using LS Nav. Gua is thinking out loud about future development with Partners and customers: “We’re also opening up new channels to get feedback and new ideas for a user-driven community. “We‘re creating an online forum/community for our users that enables them to log feedback and ideas easily. ”We’re arranging for Partners to be able to attend our Sprint Reviews so they can influence functionality. “The possiblities are wide open!“ Gua has worked on IT solutions for the retail and hospitality sectors for 17 years. If you have any questions for her or any of her colleagues, do not hesitate to drop us a line.

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