Abbey National Bank Plc

Abbey

CM Implementation Consultant

Andrew worked alongside a team of Merant consultants, representing Abbey National’s interests as part of a joint programme to implement Configuration Management across Abbey National’s Group Technology & Infrastructure (GTI) division of approximately 1,500 users.

Andrew’s role included the practical implementation of a PVCS Dimensions based CM process in Abbey National GTI, with the solution encompassing version, change and release management. Andrew was responsible for liasing with user areas, analysing and where necessary advising on their existing working practices and processes, analysing and identifying required CIs, designing and agreeing appropriate design part and workset structures and strategies and ultimately migrating CIs into PVCS Dimensions; where necessary using Excel and VBA based tools developed by his own company to speed the process along. Following item import, Andrew generated initial baselines and advised on release strategies, thus proving a turnkey solution ready for use by all affected staff. Andrew also designed the COTS management strategy now used throughout Abbey National GTI.

Where necessary Andrew created, or advised on the creation of, additional item types, baseline and release templates as required. Andrew’s role also involved identifying the requirement and advising on changes from or to Abbey National GTI’s generic CM process which had been defined as an “initial release” at an earlier stage in the programme. This done, Andrew documented the chosen strategy, process and customisations, and produced supporting user documentation including detailed local working practices and CM Plans on a per-group basis.

Following the initial rollout of PVCS Dimensions, Andrew provided one-on-one training, handholding and post-implementation support to user areas.

The target user-base comprised a mixture of developers, managers and clerical staff, totalling about 1,500 users, spread across 70 groups of varying size and complexity, running on a mixture of Windows 98 and Windows 2000 workstations, with most restricted to running PC Client and SCC only. Access to PVCS Dimensions was via authentication on NT hosted BDCs / DFS nodes with PVCS main services, Oracle database and item libraries all hosted on Solaris. The majority of users and items being controlled were based on Unix and NT platforms, although Unisys and MVS Endevor also featured heavily with Abbey National / Merant jointly developing an interface solution for the latter two platforms.

At a higher level, Andrew provided consultancy on evolving and progressing Abbey National GTI’s Configuration Management strategy. Latterly Andrew was also part of a small team designing a CMDB for Abbey National.

Andrew provided consultancy to the CM Programme’s Infrastructure Support Team, specifically in the area of network performance anaysis and regression testing. The former involved developing a suite of performance tests, designed to stress specific areas of PVCS Dimensions, and subsequently deriving performance baselines. These performance baselines now enable Abbey National to clearly see the precise performance effect of changes to their PVCS Dimensions installation, NT and Unix servers or network architecture. As an example, this enabled the true performance benefit of switching from DFS to SDP protocols, or upgrading from Dimensions 6 to Dimensions 7.1, to be readily identified. For the regression testing, Andrew developed nearly 30 test-scripts which between them comprehensively test all aspects of the PVCS Dimensions product, functionality and Abbey National’s CM process. Over the top of these were then layered a set of ‘views’ which enable specific areas – e.g. triggers, workset merge functionality, etc – to be tested simply by downwards reference to the appropriate test-scripts. A separate test database was constructed and exported via Oracle such that the tests could always be performed from a defined starting point and thus consistently produce anticipated results.

During the upgrade from Dimensions 6 to Dimensions 7.1, Andrew both provided consultancy and advice to Abbey National’s staff who performed the various individual tasks, and also developed a detailed back-out plan to ensure that normal service could be resumed if the upgrade failed for any reason.

During the last few months of the assignment Andrew also became solely responsible for maintaining and enhancing PVCS Dimensions trigger software (also known as event callout software) that had initially been developed by Merant. This was written in C and ran on all five NT DFS servers. Another key task towards the end of the assignment was the transfer of skills to Abbey National’s own staff to enable them to independently support and maintain the system they were now running.

Keywords

PVCS Dimensions, CM process & plan, COTS, working practices, version management, change management, release management, Excel, VBA, SCC, DFS, SDP. Design parts, worksets, item types, baselines, releases, templates, strategies and training. Triggers, event-callout software, test-scripts, testing.

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