La Senza irons the kinks out of code quality testing process

For lingerie retailer La Senza, there’s nothing frilly about its code-defect management system.

With more than 300 stores across Canada and another 250 around the world – not to mention an online business – the company required consistency across its operations.

Based on the success of the first phase of a custom application rollout at its Montreal head office, it plans to roll out the application more widely across its IT department over the next couple of months. And this will ultimately increase the productivity of the testing team, since they won’t have to track code-testing through e-mail.

La Senza works with a number of partners and third-party vendors for merchandizing, finance, inventory and online ordering. It formed a team of application testers to make sure all of its applications were well-integrated, but these testers had to e-mail partners when code fixes were required – which turned out to be a highly inefficient process. It was taking hours to pull together a code-quality report, with no up-to-date view of all of this information.

Last year the company rolled out a merchandizing solution in its smaller division, La Senza Girl, and experienced a lot of coordination problems. “I didn’t want to go into the same type of situation implementing our major division,” said Johanne Langelier, director of La Senza’s Projects and Management Office.

So she contacted InCycle Software, a Microsoft partner, to create an application that would allow testers to collaborate with each other and fix, track and manage code defects.

“We had no formal system, we were doing this with a Word template,” said Langelier, “so there was a lot of back and forth communication by e-mail and no one could ever, in a quick review, see how many code defects we had (or) see what stage they were in.”

InCycle created a custom defect-management application using Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 based on Team Foundation Server. “They did the same project with their kids’ division the year prior and they had a lot of coordination issues with all the players,” said Claude Rémillard, president of InCycle Software. “But doing this one for adults, which was a bigger-scale project with more stores and more inventory and more everything, they ended up having a smoother project, mainly because everybody knew exactly what they had on their plate at any point in time.”

It’s about being process-driven rather than technology-driven, he said, adding that CEOs are looking to improve customer service or keep up to speed with compliance requirements.

“Any time I need to know how many defects I have, I go in there, I have one view and I click on it and I see what I’m facing,” said Langelier. “For me it’s fast information and it’s really easier to manage.” She can also send change request or code defect status reports to her boss in a graphic chart display.

“The next phase is really integrating the implementation template with our POS department and system administration department, so this should be done within the month of September,” she said. “We are looking into starting our internal architecture documentation to have a first phase already documented by mid-October.” She’s now looking at how to integrate project tasks with the system.

The company is also looking into using the architect edition to model its current infrastructure, said Rémillard. “You identify the components you build and decide where you’re going to deploy them on which server in which zone,” he said, “and the system at that point will identify if you have any security issues or policies that are not taken care of in your application.”

This will allow La Senza to bring all of its different user groups on board, he added, and really start seeing some benefits.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Vawn Himmelsbach
Vawn Himmelsbach
Is a Toronto-based journalist and regular contributor to IT World Canada's publications.

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