MMU tests its digital transformation journey with nFocus

The university’s Student Journey Digital Transformation Project employed nFocus Testing as the quality assurance provider

Quality assurance is crucial and critical in any digital transformation journey. It is essential for organisations that are dealing with digital transformation to have an appropriate digital assurance strategy by identifying the right tools, methodologies to be used and measures to assure the highest customer experience possible. It is also important that the QA organisation is future-proofed to ensure the right quality after Go Live.

This case study focuses on Manchester Metropolitan University’s Student Journey Digital Transformation Programme (SJTP). Supported by testing, the programme will deliver a range of benefits, one of which is securing business continuity. This will be achieved through the implementation of fit-for-purpose and future-proofed business processes, flexible and modern applications that are focused around the student and aligned to the way students interact with the university in their day-to-day lives.

There was a need to provide consistency across all Go Live releases regardless of importance, size and complexity. Collaboration with suppliers, MMU and UAT teams was key to the success of the programme. Shifting left the quality as early in the project as possible to identify and resolve bugs early in the life cycle was critical to the overall quality of the product and chances of successful delivery into production.

The Student Journey Transformation Programme

Manchester Met University (MMU) is one of the largest universities in the UK with a community of over 38,000 students.

The university planned to deliver a large-scale digital transformation project that would enhance every area of its business administrative processes and improve the quality of service provided to students.

This ambitious four-year project would replace all systems and technologies associated with their student journey and replace them with a more efficient and responsive system; improving the student journey from their very first touchpoint with the university all the way through to becoming a member of the alumni, and every step in-between.

nFocus have been our partner throughout the journey. They adapted to the HE sector and its challenges and to the complexity and diversity of this large cross-cutting initiative.

The goals for the student journey transformation project included:

Deliver and support non-standard provision such as continuing professional development, apprenticeships and transnational education

Support student retention and progression through better information

Improve both the way services are provided to students and student support

Simplify and update student life cycle processes and systems

Deliver modern infrastructure to better enable MMU to compete in both the future and current market

Deliver greater personalisation and service using devices and channels of choice.


MMU selected Unit4 as one of their software providers for the project and nFocus Testing as the quality assurance provider.

The project has been developed and rolled out in phases and to date is on track to hit the delivery deadline of 2020. Go Live 1 and 2, which have already been rolled out, included interviews and auditions, open days and enquiry functionality enabling all UCAS and initial teacher training applications to be received and processed through the Unit4 Student Management System.

The role of nFocus and quality assurance

MMU selected nFocus as its testing partner of choice. nFocus is a pure-play independent software testing and quality management consultancy with over 19 years of testing experience.

They have been named multiple times in TEST Magazine’s 20 Leading Testing Providers and are the only UK-owned company to be named finalist for three consecutive years in the Leading Vendor category at the European Software Testing Awards, winning it on one of these occasions. They specialise exclusively in the provision of software application testing and test consultancy services.

nFocus is delivering the testing services required as a managed service covering all areas of testing including functional testing, test automation and performance testing, with a separate focus on planning and monitoring user acceptance testing.

The first task for nFocus was to create the overarching test strategy for the SJTP which details the approach to testing across all Go Lives and the benefits. nFocus provided testing and test preparation for each Go Live, with a strong team with an array of talent and system knowledge, they used best practice to both manually and automatically test the development deployed.

Collaboration was essential as the solution has an element of development via Unit4 and that development is not fully undertaken by MMU.

There is a required level of test assurance required before that solution/product can be accepted into the MMU domain.

This assurance is to provide a number of benefits such as:

Provide MMU with a known quality baseline prior to accepting solution/product

Visibility of the testing performed by the supplier

Input into supplier testing

Visibility of observations and bugs

Validation that supplier requirements have been met prior to acceptance

Understand/identify any risks or issues that may influence MMU’s own test approach

Any observations raised are cheaper and easier to fix at this stage.

Additionally, UAT collaboration helped engage the UAT team when designing the test scenarios and assisted them in risk workshops to assign priority and impact values on test scripts.

The UAT team was encouraged to witness testing during the SIT test phase to see the application under test and the testing progress.

nFocus’ proposed solution provided the required experience and knowledge to work as part of the MMU team to assure the delivery of specific test phases including defining quality gates with entry and exit criteria to ensure deliverables are met both prior to the UAT execution phase and after.


The outcome of working in collaboration with MMU was ultimately to align processes and procedures and working closely with suppliers to ensure both entry and exit criteria are met through each stage of testing. nFocus produced detailed test plans for each Go Live, outlining the activities and timeline associated with the testing for each project.

This overall test approach aligned to the Test Strategy and allowed MMU to achieve the following outcomes:

Increased test productivity, capability, capacity and management efficiency

Reduced cost of testing

To create a set of flexible appropriate test processes, procedures and frameworks

To create test suites for all business-critical applications and solutions

Improved quality of service to all stakeholders

Reduced IT and business risk

Robust and useful test management information.

Andrew Kemp, transformation director at MMU Student Journey Transformation Project, explained: “nFocus have been our test partner throughout the journey. They adapted to the HE sector and its challenges and to the complexity and diversity of this large cross-cutting initiative.

“They have supported us in all aspects of testing and felt like a true integrated partner and part of our team throughout the process as well as helping us enhance our quality assurance approach both during and post project. The team are highly motivated, and it has been a positive and enjoyable experience to partner with them on this programme.”

For more information on nFocus call 0370 242 6235 or visit:

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