Micro Focus ALM Quality Center Review

Makes it easy to go back and execute the same test every time with automation

What is our primary use case?

We use all the major modules in ALM Quality Center. From the releases and management portion, we use the requirements, and we create our releases. We create requirements. We link our test spaces to these requirements and we schedule the execution in the test lab. Then we capture our results in Quality Center and we follow the management process that is not only for manual testing. 

We also have quite extensive automated testing in our environment with some of the other Micro Focus products. They are all integrated into Quality Center, like the UFT, we use service virtualization, we have RPA and we also use Mobile Center. Quality Center plays a major role in our test artifacts, our execution, and our order tracking, both in manual and automated.

How has it helped my organization?

Quality Center has improved my organization from a traceability and test coverage point of view. We have multiple vendors providing development to my company, Pick n Pay. If we use automation or Sprinter, the tool documents the steps for us as we follow it to the point that we've got a defect, so it's easy to send that information on to third parties so that they can duplicate the defect on their side and then provide us with a fix. 

The other thing is from a regression point of view, with everything documented in Quality Center, it's easy to go back and execute the same test every time with automation.

Quality Center's ability to connect all related entities to reflect project status and progress is great. This is the tool that we share with all our project managers so that they can see the progress on their projects, even if it's a project across multiple applications or what it is within our environment. We set it up so they can have an overall view of that specific project. It is a great tool to use in that sense.

The test center is our way of working. It's fully integrated, we have a test strategy that supports the use of ALM Quality Center. That's the only way that we track progress on projects. We don't use Excel or anything like that for creating test cases or anything. We also have an environment where we follow a more agile approach and we've integrated Quality Center into JIRA for user stories and defect tracking. If it's not in Quality Center, it's not happening. If it's not documented in Quality Center, we don't believe it.

I wouldn't necessarily say that in the beginning it reduced the time required for testing but if you start on an application and you had the four-quarter full version of that, reusability is automatically built into the tool. Then if you've documented the test case, you've got it. You can reuse that test case in multiple instances of releases at execution. You don't have to go and rewrite it if you plan correctly. If there's a change to something with the way you've structured in Quality Center it will filter through. So it brings our maintenance down by a lot less. Even on the automation side, it brings the maintenance down a lot less with the way we've structured our modules within Quality Center.

It has reduced it by around 15%. That's without automation, it's straight Quality Center. If you add the automation, in some of our areas like the digital area, it brought it down by about 45%. In some of the other areas by around 50%.

Quality Center enables us to conduct risk-based testing. Testing is always a measured approach in our environment. Depending on when development is finished and when we go live, we will do a risk-based approach to say that if we have a look at the critical requirements or test cases, this is how long it will take us. We then get sign-off from the systems analyst, the project manager, and even the business to say, based on the time we have, we're only going to execute critical test cases, for instance.

I'm not 100% sure if Micro Focus is still investing in the product. If I have a look at the features, not 15.01 because we still have to install that, but previously from Quality Center 11 up to where we are now, there are a few things that have been outstanding for a while that I believe will add value. And they're not really getting to that. So I'm not sure what their road map is. Unfortunately this year, the Micro Focus Universe was canceled in the Netherlands, because I'm sure there they would have shared some of the road maps with us, but I don't think the communication on their road map is clear enough to their customers.

What is most valuable?

The execution module and the test planning module are definitely the most valuable features. We use REST for traceability, but those are the two modules that I cannot live without.

From a test execution point of view or the test lab, from an audit requirement, we have internal and external auditors of the major projects that will do an audit on the project to make sure that we follow the right processes and procedures within the TCOE and within our STLC in Pick n Pay. It's easy to give auditors access to Quality Center as a viewer only and they can view everything we've done from test execution and test planning, as Quality Center keeps the audit trail for us.

In terms of its ability to handle a large number of projects and users in our enterprise environment, we have 17 dedicated testers and automation specialists in the test centers and plus or minus another 35 to 45 business users/developers or systems analysts that access the product. From a scalability point of view, we run multiple projects over multiple domains at any given time with everyone that's got access. Quality Center's ability to send out emails when you log defects makes it possible for someone that works over multiple projects to know exactly where to find the defect if they just follow the emails that go out.

We use Quality Center for all of our reporting purposes. We have dashboards that we've created across domains and projects. With all the information already available in Quality Center, it's quite easy to set up all of our reporting. Work management doesn't necessarily want to go into the details of the projects. It's easy for them to just access the dashboards that we create from information in Quality Center, with direct integration to see that. From a traceability point of view, it is a great product.

In terms of the security features, we don't do the LDEF or the active directory integration. We have a stand-alone solution. We can obviously set our own password. We don't enforce password rules at this stage, but going forward with security becoming more important in the company's life, we are going to follow and going to do the active directory integration. We have single sign-on to Quality Center, as it can handle that integration portion into the rest of the Pick n Pay landscape. We don't use SSO.

What needs improvement?

Browser support needs improvement. Currently, it can only run on IE, Internet Explorer. It doesn't work on Firefox, doesn't work on Chrome, doesn't work on a Mac. Those are the new technologies where most companies move towards. That's been outstanding for quite a while before it even became Micro Focus tools, when it was still HP. Even before HP, that's always been an issue.

Other smaller things need improvement. If you log a defect, you have the ability to upload attachments, but it will only allow you to add one attachment at a time. If you have ten screenshots, for instance, you have to do it one at a time. You can't go and highlight all ten and upload.

Finally, the biggest problem in our environment, and it's the reason we're not necessarily upgrading our solution every time, is when we do an upgrade or even install a patch, there are always changes to the UI. What it means is that we need to have local admin rights on our machine. The next time we log on, we unload all those components to our machine. Now in an environment like Pick n Pay, where not everyone can have local admin rights, it's quite a mission if we upgrade to go around and get to the 60 to 70 PCs or laptops that are impacted to get the users to log on or get IT support to log in with local admin rights to install the browser portion after an upgrade. There are a few .net downloads that need to happen on the browser side in IE and that takes some time.

For how long have I used the solution?

I started using this product when it was still called Mercury Interactive, from 1997.

It's on-prem, hosted in a partner that is doing all our hosting. It's on-prem and we do our own administration.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability is great. I can't think of any time in the last three years where we had an issue with the product. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is great. It doesn't matter what the size of your organization is. If your testing area is 5 users or 500 users, this product can definitely scale. Before I joined Pick n Pay, I worked for a company in Kazakhstan and Russia. We used Quality Center across different countries to roll out a big project and at the end, we had a 400-user license to have everyone following the same process when it came to testing.

We have 17 permanent users in Quality Center. They are testers. We have a test manager role. We have automation engineers. We have test analysts, we have senior testers and we have junior testers. We also have systems analysts that we log defects and assign it to them so that they can access the defects module to validate and update the side of the defect. We also integrate Quality Center with JIRA. We have our third-party development happening, where they use JIRA and we use Quality Center, where we can log the defects in Quality Center then via the integration then send it to JIRA. When they update, we get information back on our side so that we are on the same page. For us, Quality Center is the single tool in our environment. Whatever the status of the defect is in Quality Center, that's the status. Whatever the status is of execution of test cases, that's what it is.

In terms of the required maintenance, I have one system administrator for all the products and they're responsible for Quality Center. They make sure when we plan upgrades to do the upgrades, user management, project creation, and integration with the other Micro Focus tools we use. 

Our adoption rate is about 85-90%. There will always be room to grow.

We don't have plans to increase usage. We have plans to increase other things around Quality Center like test coverage, automation, and all of those things, but not necessarily new licenses or additional licenses. We have a base of licenses in our environment. As we get major projects with more resources, we do a rental on additional licenses for a three or six-month period.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate their technical support a nine out of ten. 

Their support is quite good. There will always be room for improvement. I also know the local Micro Focus support in South Africa so it's easy for us to pick up the phone and phone the local support or the engineers in South Africa. The only room for improvement will be if you log a call and it's in a different time zone, sometimes there's a delay over three or four hours, but that's literally the only negative about it.

How was the initial setup?

Even within Pick n Pay it is straightforward to do an upgrade. First, uninstall then install the new product or the new version, and if you keep to the same database server, it will pick up all your information and all the projects and everything you have. I've also been involved in areas where we run it via the load balancer and if you follow the documentation, it's quite easy to set up.

An upgrade does not take more than two hours. The initial setup might be a bit longer, about four hours, depending on if you have access to the right database server, if you have all the correct admin rights on the database server, and things like that. If you follow the steps in the installation guide before you start with the install, and you get that right, or get your users set up correctly on the DBA side, it's not a problem. It can take three to four hours.

What about the implementation team?

We do the installation ourselves. I have a product administrator for all of the Micro Focus products in our environment who is doing all the administrative duties for us on all the Micro Focus products.

Regarding our implementation strategy, it becomes quite complex if you use other Micro Focus products as well. It's not as straightforward as just upgrading Quality Center. We use service virtualization and we use Mobile Center. For us, it's important that we follow the process to make sure that we're on the most recent releases of all products that can integrate. The integration portion of the Micro Focus documentation is quite important to us.

What was our ROI?

We've seen ROI plainly. We can do more projects. It's easier to do the maintenance. It might not be rands or dollars savings, but time-saving is definitely there.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

From a pricing point of view, I believe it is an enterprise tool. If you are an enterprise organization and you're using SAP or Oracle for your ERP systems, for example, the cost around Quality Center is not that expensive. From a licensing and planning point of view, you should have a hybrid between licenses you own and depending on how busy you are at certain stages within projects, do additional rentals just for those periods if need be. That's what we do in our environment, we have a base of 15 licenses. If we have any major projects coming in where we know there are additional developers, we do a rental for licenses for the period of that project. We charge that project for the licenses for that rental.

We do have additional costs apart from standard licensing from our side. Pick n Pay outsources their hardware, so obviously we have costs for the hardware and backup for our hardware partners that do our hosting. We see this as a tier-one application in our environment. We have full disaster recovery capability. There some costs involved from that side.

What other advice do I have?

Depending on your environment, the strong point for me with all of the Micro Focus tools is that it supports multiple applications and multiple development languages. It's easy to use one for everything in your environment. If you have a look at automation, if you have SAP and you have mobile, you can use the same tools. It's the same with Quality Center. It doesn't matter what you want to test, you can use the same tool to support that testing. 

Make sure that you plan the detail correctly and plan it to the sense that you know where you want to end up. Otherwise, maintenance becomes a nightmare on your dispatchers.

I would rate Micro Focus ALM Quality Center a nine out of ten.

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**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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