It seems the last few months have been an endless round of testing. Our Spinnaker Platform has gone through multiple iterations as we adapted it for each Covid-19 Study that joined REMAP-CAP. To be honest it’s been a testing year of software testing!

Testing takes patience and attention to detail. It’s time consuming and when it works well it finds all the little bits that make the difference between an OK piece of software and an excellent experience. Given how important all aspects of our platform are to us you can imagine how much weight we place on testing.The request life-cycle
Here at Spiral the Project Manager (in this case Jess) does the first phase of  testing and manages the testing cycle with the client and users. At times like this it is 60-70% of her job. The concept of testing and the life cycle of an issue is pretty easy really:

  1. End users or clients raise an issue or request a change
  2. The Spiral Support Team look at it, do some research and assign it to the Development Team
  3. The Development Team make the change and perform unit testing
  4. The Project Manager system tests the change
  5. The Support Team tests a selection of changes
  6. Then the change is “Staged” where it is made available for User Acceptance Testing (UAT) by the original requester
  7. Any changes or issues are raised by the user. Steps 1-7 are repeated until the user is happy with the result
  8. Finally the change is released to the production or live platform where the end-users benefit form the improvements.

One small difficulty is that we are testing with people who are often not the actual end user, plus there is no way of knowing exactly how each user is going to interact with the software, or how they expect the software to function.

We also follow the latest thinking around “user testing”; this is where software is created to fit in with how people use it rather than the other way round! For us it’s very much about watching people, listening, and seeing how people use Spinnaker.  We are very interested in how people our using our platforms with real data, in their real environment.

What you don’t know you don’t know
Even the process of getting the new software underway helps us identify areas for tweaks and adjustment. When you have a flexible software platform like Spinnaker, and an Agile approach to development, then getting it launched, and enrolments started, can be a valuable part of the user testing. Once we are underway things change and these may be changes that could not have been foreseen or expected. Research coordinators use Spinnaker in unexpected ways, patients come in with unexpected readings and situations arise that we could never have prepared for. We deal with these unexpected situations by getting underway, with being flexible and being clever enough to adapt.

Testing by our team is largely about making sure the software behaves as expected. What takes Spinnaker to the next level is the testing and research we do around increasing user engagement which translates into better engagement with future versions of Spinnaker.

Remember, we are always listening (in a good way!).