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QA Modernization Success: Insights from Pekin & NJM


The insurance industry is transitioning from relying on manual testing to fully modernizing quality assurance approaches, embracing required strategies, practices and technologies. More so, leading insurers are leveraging their core systems transformations to update and automate QA.

As discussed in our insurance QA modernization webinar, insurers have long viewed testing as a tactical late-stage function. However, with today’s emphasis on delivering value to the customer, insurers are moving beyond this limited perspective to valuing robust QA as a strategic enterprise function.

In other words, to accomplish digital and customer engagement priorities, insurers are no longer seeing QA as a matter of either quality or speed to market. Now, it’s about quality at speed.

In this final blog of this series, we’ll gain some real-world insights into the process of transforming from a simplistic testing model to a strategic QA. For that, let’s understand QA modernization efforts underway at Pekin Insurance from Subhasis Mukherjee, CIO, and NJM Insurance from Angie Walko, the company’s QA Supervisor.

To start, here’s the summary of what’s happening at each of these companies.

Pekin Insurance: PIVOT to a Complete Overhaul

In March of 2017, nearly 100-year-old Pekin Insurance began an enterprise-wide transformation named - Pekin Insurance Virtual Overall Transformation (PIVOT). According to Mukherjee, the ongoing digital initiative focuses on core, data, analytics, and cloud transformations. Integral to this transformation was developing an enterprise QA strategy that incorporated modern software development practices like continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD) and DevOps. In practice, Pekin Insurance sought to deliver weekly software releases that required QA automation and application-specific testing.

Today, Pekin’s QA strategy is built on a model with three fundamental pillars: continuous assessment, continuous collaboration, and continuous automated testing. This enables securely extending more features and functionality to their distributors and policyholders to meet customer demands anytime and anywhere across digital channels.

NJM Insurance: Benefiting from an Incremental Approach

A century-old insurer, NJM’s corporate culture has long focused on enterprise-wide continuous improvement. NJM began its core and digital transformation journey about a decade ago, at which point it also formed a software process improvement group. Later, in 2013, NJM started implementing agile methodologies.

Along with the software process improvement group, NJM established an all-in quality ethos, where everyone in IT was responsible for infusing quality continuously. To support this initiative, IT undertook a multi-year effort to train all business stakeholders on basic software delivery concepts and user acceptance testing, which included continuous improvement approaches.

Throughout the transformation journey, the enterprise also evolved testing to adopt an automation-first approach. This included embracing leading open-source test automation tools/platforms such as Selenium, Appium, and Sauce Labs.

Now, NJM operates on the assumption that automated testing is the default option while manual testing only a supplement. Further, automation begins on Day 1 within a Sprint. The enterprise is also moving swiftly toward adopting CI/CD and DevOps practices and plans to continue expanding its capabilities in these areas.

3 Key Ingredients for QA Modernization Success

Both Pekin and NJM identified three key ingredients to achieving success.

Key Components of QA quality assurance modernization success

  • Form Strategic QA Partnerships. With the seismic shift in software development approaches requiring new skillsets and test automation tools, forming strategic QA partnerships is critical to enable rapid time to market. The most advanced QA partners provide a dedicated onsite QA lead to manage partner resources efficiently and ensure effective knowledge transfer to internal staff. Additionally, value-add partnerships assist with shifting organizational mindsets away from the historical perception of “testing” as a development afterthought to embracing strategic QA and its continuous integration across the development cycle.

  • Identify and Cultivate Appropriate Internal Expertise. In addition to partnering, assess your internal expertise and make ongoing enhancements as and when required. For example, create teams that include both internal and partner employees to make sure knowledge transfer happens continuously. As appropriate, rotate team members to broaden everyone’s expertise. Whenever possible, position internal employees to take a lead role, or pair them with an experienced external mentor for hands-on leadership training. To cultivate new talent, consider hiring interns, with an eye to retain them full-time, and rotate them throughout IT for holistic training as well as dedicating them to QA. This approach helps infuse your QA team with new and assertive individuals that are already familiar with the latest tools and QA processes.

  • Test Everything, All the Time. While core systems testing is frequently thought of as related to the software solution being delivered, like policy admin or claims, modern QA practices call for testing all of the components a core system is integrated with or is affected by. In other words, continuous automated testing must also be applied to infrastructure, which is necessarily altered by every update or upgrade, regardless of whether that infrastructure is on-premise or cloud-based (IaaS). Similarly, as core systems increasingly interact with external solutions and ecosystems via APIs, each of these integrations also require ongoing testing and management.

Finally, as noted by our webinar moderator Anthony O’Donnell, Executive Editor of the Insurance Innovation Reporter, QA modernization benefits insurers in multiple ways. Embracing agile, shift-left and CI/CD significantly helps insurance firms of any size to stay competitive in a fundamentally altered industry landscape. Further, QA modernization substantially mitigates the inherently risky process of transforming and continuously evolving core systems to address new market challenges and opportunities.

If you missed the first two blogs in this series, be sure to check them out for further insights. In Core Transformation: QA Trends and Best Practices you can gain perspectives from veteran industry expert Martina Conlon, Executive Vice President of Research and Consulting at Novarica. Our second blog, Application Specific Testing: An Essential QA Practice, talks about key considerations for establishing an effective QA approach.

You can also view the webinar here: Learn How Pekin Insurance & NJM Insurance Achieved Quality with Speed in Their Core Implementations

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


 

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