Outsourced patch upgrade solution

meets deadline for smooth, efficient implementation

Canada’s CMHC develops regular upgrade methodology with support from SkySparc


Having completed a major upgrade to its WSS installation in Spring 2014, CMHC wanted its next patch upgrade to be implemented more smoothly and quickly.

The prior upgrade project – from 6.5 to 7.4.22 – had lasted 18 months, due largely to the scale of changes between the two versions and an entirely manual testing process, which absorbed 18 full-time employees in addition to the vendor’s implementation specialists.

In spring 2015, CMHC approved an organization-wide initiative to improve the quality of its technology infrastructure, including the adoption of an 18-month upgrade cycle for major upgrades to core systems, and more regular implementation of minor upgrades.

CMHC wanted to implement its next patch upgrade, to 7.4.43, before the end of 2015, but was only in a position to finalize contractual terms in August, placing substantial time pressure on the project. A secondary requirement was to the development of an automated testing framework that would meet CMHC’s new upgrade policy requirements in future.

SkySparc’s consultants demonstrated a high level of expert knowledge as well as valuable flexibility to ensure our deadlines were met.

Corey Hartwell, Sector Manager, Technology Development and Quality, CMHC


SkySparc’s proposal to provide an outsourced patch upgrade solution – which is designed to provide clients with a smooth, efficient quality assured upgrade process, including testing, with minimal impact on internal resources or business as usual – was accepted by CMHC in August 2015, with work beginning early September.

SkySparc installed OmniFi to automate and accelerate the patch upgrade and related testing processes. In addition to installation, configuration and training services on OmniFi, SkySparc consultants provided patch upgrade project planning advice, test case development, execution and analysis, as well as guidance and trouble-shooting based on their deep system expertise, to meet CMHC’s need for high-quality testing within a very short time frame.

“The ‘baseline’ test cases developed via OmniFi for the patch upgrade project not only made for a smoother, more accurate testing process than previously, but also could be customized and re-used to help achieve accurate test results in future patches and upgrades,” explains Corey Hartwell, Sector Manager, Technology Development and Quality at CMHC.

To ensure quality assurance, testing was conducted using SkySparc’s established testing methodology to verify the consistency of data and accuracy of calculations in the new version. The testing phases included unit test, system integration test, user acceptance test and go-live test, with validation performed mainly using OmniFi.

In response to the project’s tight deadline and evolving requirements, SkySparc was able to provide the required consulting resources, both on and offsite. “SkySparc’s consultants were closely embedded with our team and provided valuable guidance throughout the process,” says Hartwell. “They were extremely knowledgeable on the system, but also flexible in meeting the evolving requirements of our upgrade project within our tight timelines, sometimes working on a shift basis to keep the project on schedule.”


With the support of SkySparc’s consultants and the deployment of OmniFi, CMHC was able to complete the 7.4.43 patch upgrade project within its required timeframe, achieving approximately 90% automation of the testing process. “SkySparc’s consultants gave us tremendous support in terms of the implementation of OmniFi and WSS, and their mobilisation of internal resources,” says Hartwell.

More than 200 test cases were produced and executed on an automated basis, with SkySparc documenting the test results as part of its commitment to quality assurance. WSS 7.4.43 was subsequently successfully upgraded by CMHC, using the best practice methodologies and test cases developed by SkySparc.

Following the successful outsourced patch upgrade project, CHMC is now well-equipped to deliver future upgrades in line with the high standards outlined in their new technology policy. “We now have a high level of confidence in our ability to conduct upgrades efficiently and smoothly every 18 months as well as smaller patches – which would previously have represented a high degree of operational risk – using the best practice methodologies developed in partnerships with SkySparc consultants as well as the automated testing capabilities of OmniFi,” says Hartwell.

The scope of the project also encompassed future reporting needs. SkySparc consultants provided training to both the technology and business teams on using OmniFi to construct and generate reports, which permitted end-users to develop reports with minimal IT support, thereby reinforcing CMHC’s overall aim of increasing the efficiency of its technology infrastructure.