Why You Should Use SpiraPlan If You Care About Software Quality

October 28th, 2021 by inflectra

Recently we were interviewed by TestBash for its 30 Days Of Testing Tools event on Oct 28, 2021. Below you will find the answers to many thoughtful questions about how we build, test, and sell our agile program management platform - SpiraPlan. I hope you will find the answers informative. 

How does SpiraPlan improve my life as someone in QA?

Inflectra’s agile program management platform - SpiraPlan enables the entire software development team to work together and collaborate easily. Everything you need is in one platform: requirements, source code, documents, test cases, risks, bugs, and so on. With all that, SpiraPlan is still highly intuitive and user-friendly. 

From the QA perspective, some of the handiest features of SpiraPlan include:

  • the ability to create and run tests easily, both manual and automated

  • the Exploratory testing module, which allows users to create test cases while testing is in progress and to modify the test cases at the same time 

  • the complete end-to-end traceability and a robust audit trail

  • the ability for every team member to quickly and easily see the current status of the product and to manage their assigned items

  • the ability for QA managers to easily track the testing process through powerful and customizable executive dashboards and reporting modules. 

What misconceptions are there around SpiraPlan? 

People think that because SpiraPlan is affordable, it can’t be fabulous! But they are mistaken! The product is fully featured and easy to use and represents excellent value for both small and large enterprises wanting to manage and measure their quality and testing efforts on agile projects of all sizes and complexity. 

Some also think that Inflectra’s licensing is as archaic as other tools'. It’s not! 

We have concurrent licensing across the Spira family of products, so you only pay for those licenses you need at the peak of your usage by flexing up and down in our Cloud versions. No tying a license to a user with Spira!

Some customers are surprised to hear that SpiraPlan is offered both cloud-hosted and on-premise. The versions are identical, and migrating from one deployment method to another is quick and painless. 

 

What SpiraPlan feature are you most proud of and why?

Across the Spira product range, the best feature, in my opinion, is the testing module.  It is so easy to use and does not require much testing knowledge or experience to be productive.  Even business testers can use it within a short period of time. Diving deeper, SpiraPlan’s 

  • testing module supports manual and automated testing and with traceability from tests and defects back to requirements. 

  • agile planning boards views highlight Task Progress and Test Case results

  • baselining feature for versioning makes it incredibly easy to see what changed over the course of a Release or Sprint

  • defect management functionality lets users log a defect at the time of test execution at the specific test step level making the defect triaging easier

  • tasks give users the ability to associate tasks with an incident for subsequent follow-up and decision-making

  • risk heat map widget is great for prioritizing the level of attention to be given to address potential risks.  

Last but not least, SpiraPlan is a full-featured stand-alone solution but also strives to meet customers where they are by offering over 55 tool integrations for IDE, Automated Testing, CI pipelines, and Source Code Management.

 

What is Inflectra's roadmap, and how do you decide what to prioritize? 

We are very excited about what the future holds for SpiraPlan. Our roadmap includes a range of compelling new features and improvements, including: 

  • improved people management tools with teams, reporting lines, more robust time tracking, and even resource tracking and expensing

  • enhanced kanban boards to make teams of all sizes efficiently visualize and manage their backlog and active work across products and programs

  • dynamic tests that are generated on the fly based on a user's needs

  • more developer-friendly workflows, building on our already deep integration, such as improved code review tools

  • reporting at all levels of the organization with different tools and reports so a team can create reports on a sprint, while the CIO can read a report about progress across their entire organization.

 

How do you involve your customers in the SpiraPlan development process?

Our customers are critical in how we shape SpiraPlan and its future direction. Almost every new feature we release or enhancement we make has come from listening carefully to our users. We receive feedback and suggestions daily in customer support. Our SpiraPlan support team is embedded with the product teams, so the feedback loop between customers and the development process can be as rich and fast as possible. We meet customers regularly (in small and larger groups) to understand how they use SpiraPlan and what they need to be even more productive.

How do you test your own tool - SpiraPlan?

Unsurprisingly, we use SpiraPlan and Rapise to test SpiraPlan. We ARE, in effect, the customer of our own platform. This makes it easy for us to understand what the customer may want out of the tool or what they might not want to happen. 

Tactically speaking, we have an extensive suite of automated tests that help us test SpiraPlan. In addition, we do quite a bit of manual and exploratory testing, focussing mainly on new functionality and the user interface. It is customary for all team members, irrespective of their function in the company, to contribute to the testing of new functionality. This keeps the team informed of the changes to the platform. 

 

What is the most underappreciated feature of SpiraPlan?

SpiraPlan’s flexibility of use and integration with other products in the market are two areas largely unknown to our potential users. 

SpiraPlan does not impose a prescribed way of configuring, customizing, or using the product, thus making the platform compatible with many industry requirements (including regulated industries like life sciences, finance, defense, aerospace). SpiraPlan's feature responsible for the customization of artifacts and workflows is Templates. This built-in feature makes it easy to manage complex business processes. This gives our customers the greatest level of flexibility to meet their individual organizational needs. 

Additionally, not everyone knows that SpiraPlan comes with:

  • a set of default presets and sample data which makes SpiraPlan incredibly easy to get started with

  • functionality to manage changes to the software at the source code level. Useful in many software development initiatives, the feature allows technical teams to maintain and visualize the source code in SpiraPlan, ensuring the source code traceability when Spira is integrated with dev tools. 

  • the ability to identify secondary risks and associate them with the primary risks allows QA teams to build contingencies and plan for quality along the way.

The increasing range of FREE integrations is underappreciated too because customers are used to paying for these, as they do with other tools providers.

How do you support your customers when releasing SpiraPlan updates? 

Inflectra’s release cadence is quite rigorous with new releases, enhancements, and bug fixes coming out every 1-2 months on average. We support our customers and mitigate the risks of disruption in the following ways:

  • Our releases fall on a weekend to minimize the disruption in case there is an issue

  • You may have heard about Inflectra’s legendary customer support! We run a 24-hour tech support operation to answer the questions related to all tech issues, including the new releases

  • We make sure the platform documentation is updated with new release notes, which we communicate to our customers via email updates, blogs or knowledgebase articles

  • We usually run release-related webinars to demonstrate the new features and enhancements and answer questions from the audience

  • With this volume of new releases, there is a large amount of testing that gets done before we release to avoid our customers becoming our testers. 

What type of support is given when purchasing SpiraPlan?

Inflectra is quintessentially a company that makes application lifecycle management, QA, and automation platforms that are ready for use out of the box. The easy-to-use and intuitive user interface ensure that users are able to get started quickly after the purchase. However, we do take care of our potential users pre-, during-, and post-purchase. We offer pre-purchase discovery and platform and integration demos to determine if SpiraPlan ( or Rapise - Inflectra’s test automation tool) is a good fit for the user. 

In post-purchase, we offer limited live training and additional implementation services for data migration, workflow set-up, and custom reporting. 

Additionally, after 16 years in business, Inflectra created a large number of learning resources - both free and paid - that are available on our website and youtube. The VIP management services are also offered through Inflectra’s extensive partner network. 

Why You Should Use SpiraPlan If You Care About Software Quality