Reconnaissance tool and Pega application health assessment – a practitioner’s view

Published: May 31, 2018

High quality Pega implementations have remained essential to the successful evolution from Business Process Management (BPM) to Digital Process Automation (DPA) and the growth of the BPM opportunity landscape. Historically, it has been observed that a singular focus on fixing only functional defects and deferring the fixes to design and structural code quality issues, while providing fake assurance to meet the timelines, very soon pile up technical debts causing significant rework and quality concerns from the users.

We're not new to this situation. Often times in the past, Virtusa has been brought into the fold, when incumbent vendors have failed to deliver programs on time and agreed delivery quality, and we are selected as the "chief rescuer" of those programs.

The first step towards solving a problem is to understand and gather deep understanding of the issue and the root cause of the same. In most programs that are currently trending towards amber-red or the ones which are already in code red, key reasons for failure would be:

  1. Gaps in delivery rigor and processes
  2. No objective measure of success
  3. Piled up technical debts and an ignorance of the same
  4. Lack of delivery best practices and governance templates
  5. Missing governance controls
  6. Lack of tools or objective ways to measure and remediate technical debt

Realizing the absence of such a tool or objective methodology, DPA experts at Virtusa brought their collective Pega expertise (at leadership level alone, more than 500 man-years experience in designing and delivering Pega solutions) to develop a single tool that helps measure and remediate technical debts of Pega applications. The Reconnaissance (Recon) tool is at the core of Virtusa's famous "Triple R" methodology of Recon, Refactor and Re-platform and the Application Health assessment framework. It harnesses the strength of Pega's engineering APIs and Virtusa's engineering expertise on the Pega PRPC platform.

In fact, Recon is not limited only to the word of technical debts, but rather provides extended capability to:

  • assess version upgrade readiness for ageing applications
  • correct usage of latest features of Pega7 after the update is completed
  • assess application readiness for cloud migration
  • assess applications on the criteria of scale, reuse and modularity
  • identify opportunities for re-platforming and re-architecture to make monolithic solution architectures componentized and scalable
  • assess system performance and identify performance hot spots

Virtusa's Health Assessment Framework follows a structured 3-phase approach (Assess, Enhance, and Transition) to investigate and analyze the application health and suggest steps to remediate (if necessary):

As part of a standard Pega application health check routine, technical debt assessment is followed by investigation into existing delivery processes, deep-dive of design review and interviews with key IT and business stakeholders.

delivery processes, deep-dive of design review and interviews with key IT and business stakeholders

This helps Virtusa teams analyze and understand gaps in delivery practices across SDLC phases. This data feeds a program health "heat-map", and is supported by tactical and strategic recommendations to mitigate errors..

Detailed observations and corresponding recommendations are categorized into five broad groups:

  1. Data Integrity
  2. Maintainability
  3. Performance
  4. Functionality
  5. Integration
  6. Security

The heat-map is complemented by examples of actual problem areas, and together with a combination of quick-wins and long term recommendations, it provides a 360o view of the complete problem statement. With over 62 areas examined, the view offers the capability to instill leadership and direction to the ongoing progress of a Pega implementation.

Based on the success of this tool and the overarching health assessment framework, Virtusa has mandated that all new and existing Pega PRPC programs must have periodic recon assessments from "Start Right" to "Continue Right" and corresponding defect fixes baked in the project plan.

We have achieved some significant benefits from 20+ successful assessments and subsequent remedial exercises. Reach out to us for more information.

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