Application Specific Testing: An Essential QA Practice

In the previous blog of this series, we discussed how today’s competitive forces are driving insurers to introduce a significantly greater number of business capabilities within their core solutions at an unprecedented speed.

To ensure the complex applications perform as expected and risk is minimized, IT departments are shifting QA to the very beginning of a development initiative, as discussed in our insurance QA modernization webinar.

In this blog, we’ll drill down to explore application-specific testing, which is a critical QA best practice.

What is application-specific testing?

Much as it sounds, application-specific testing approaches QA from the lens of a specific enterprise application/solution, such as an insurance core system. This is the dramatic departure from historical QA practices. Traditionally, QA has been organized around testing types, like user acceptance testing (UAT). Further, validation tools were generic. This created a situation where QA could either focus on quality or speed, but not both.

Now, QA is expected to be simultaneously fast and exceptional, with validation processes customized to the solution being adopted, like the Guidewire core suite. This requires test automation for speed and conducting validations continuously throughout a solution’s lifecycle for high quality.

In a nutshell, application-specific testing optimizes and validates critical business activities, such as policy rating, while also ensuring IT processes are thoroughly vetted. This includes validating the interactions of various components as well as the application end-to-end. Validation is critical for today’s microservices-based architectures and the end-to-end testing of an entire solution.

Key components of robust application-specific testing solutions

The most sophisticated application-specific testing solutions provide QA teams with innovative tools that are automation-centric. Such solutions incorporate four key components.

Key Components of Application Specific Testing Solutions

  • Test Life Cycle Automation Workbench. This enables defining specifications and scenarios for modeling the planned real-world behaviors in context, such as the workflows within the policy administration system. Using the models, test scripts are generated and a scripts repository is developed. A testing workbench automates all testing, across development and production, rather than automating a single test process. This includes the tools and algorithms required to generate and optimize various combinations of actions.

  • Automated Test Execution Framework. This is critical to enabling the modern QA practice of continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD). Automating test execution effectively requires a comprehensive framework for launching the tests based on user-defined and application-specific criteria, such as billing or claims, along with an advanced test execution repository.

  • Automated Test Reporting. This ensures speedy defect identification and resolution along with feeding the results back into an application’s lifecycle. Advanced test reporting capabilities integrate seamlessly with application lifecycle management and DevOps tools.

  • Optimized Automated Regression Testing Suite. Although there are multiple automated regression testing suites, an application-specific solution aligns tightly with a specific core system. This ensures automated regression testing is both rapid and granular enough for high-quality results.

The success factors

In order to gain the full advantages of application-specific QA testing, insurers must make three fundamental investments. These three elements are the cornerstone for the success of application-specific testing.

  • Shift-Left (or Look Left) Testing Approach. A cultural investment is required to embrace the Shift-Left philosophy to enable an enterprise to effectively infuse testing throughout an application’s lifecycle: from project inception, through development, during delivery and continuously while in production.

  • Smart Testing Suites. It’s very challenging to accelerate testing and ensure quality outcomes by using yesterday’s testing tools.
    For test automation, which offers both speed and quality, an insurance firm needs to evaluate and invest directly in smart testing suites, and related accelerators, or partner with a service provider that can apply the appropriate tools on an as-needed basis. Either way, executive management must understand the value of these investments, so the necessary resources are allocated.

  • Appropriate Expertise. Like smart testing suites, successfully modernizing QA also requires updating an insurance firm’s human capital. In other words, successful automation doesn’t mean an autopilot. Insurance firms need trained and experienced people who can use the latest tools and maximize their technology investments.
    This means companies either develop their in-house talent or strategically partner with technology providers to obtain the necessary depth and breadth of expertise. Many insurers also pursue a hybrid approach, where a partner completes tasks and transfers knowledge to insurers’ internal resources.

Regardless of how insurers ultimately approach application-specific testing, the goal is to find and remediate defects in the shortest possible time, frequently in fractions of a second, and early in the development cycle.

Insurers taking this approach are already realizing the rewards. Most importantly, they’re reducing enterprise risk and significantly increasing the ability to address market conditions while simultaneously boosting user and customer satisfaction. In combination, these benefits are enabling industry leaders to capture additional market share.

For real-world perspectives on how you can proceed, see our final blog in the series QA Modernization Success: Insights from Pekin & NJM. It presents the experiences of two well-known insurers that are benefiting from QA modernizations.

If you missed the first blog in this series, be sure to check it out here: Core Transformation: QA Trends and Best Practices.

You can also view the companion webinar, moderated by industry expert Anthony O’Donnell, Learn How Pekin Insurance & NJM Insurance Achieved Quality with Speed in Their Core Implementations by clicking here.

Learn more about how we can help you with modernizing your QA processes by visiting our QualityLeap practice.

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