The best friend for a Core System Tester - Best Practices

Best practices are testing’s best friend. Apply the best practices highlighted in this article to your entire project’s testing strategy, not just new system functionality.

Novarica, Famers Alliance, American National and ValueMomentum recently teamed up to present a webinar on the topic titled Achieving success in core systems testing. The highly experienced panel of speakers included Martina Conlon (Senior VP) Novarica, Andy Edwardson (CIO & VP IT) Farmers Alliance, Kathy Blankenship (Director QA) American National, and James Carlucci (VP Insurance). This article outlines some of the best practices covered by Martina Conlon in the webinar on how P&C insurers can successfully lead a core system testing initiative.

The What?

Define best practices for:

  • All interfaces’ downstream feeds, legacy remediation/changes, decommissioning functions, conversion, and so.
  • Don’t overlook non-functional requirement testing for performance, scalability, usability, security, and other vital areas.
  • Don’t work in isolation. Bring in experts if necessary for, ultimately, you shoulder the results. Express your concerns.
  • Provide vendor/SI feedback so all better understand testing throughout all stages.
  • Ask your vendor/SI for sample test strategies, plans, and testing documentation related to their products and prior projects.
  • Finally, define the process and metrics for working with the vendor as well as escalating and resolving quality issues related to deliverables.

Bottomline? Understand all testing areas and processes.

Specific Best Practices – Testing CoE

These distinct best practices also assure better testing. Make a QA Lead or Test Manager responsible for overall testing strategy. Dedicate a QA team or Testing COE to support functional, end to end, regression, smoke testing, etc. From the start provide testing status updates. Review structure and requirements details upfront—be sure you support test case development and testing’s overall strategy. Document dependencies in advance. Reports and user experiences reveal when a full function is ready for testing. Understand that you can’t always accept user experiences/functions during prints with complex vended systems, thus it’s best to plan for plan a dedicated UAT at the sprints’ end. Test out-of-the-box baseline-vended systems and escalate defects early. Be sure test leadership and the team participate in requirements meetings.

Other specific approaches assure successful results. Continually test between sprints and consider test-driven development. Have developers conduct and document unit tests. Automate regression testing as early as possible and execute at each sprint’s end. Test end-to-end as soon as possible and test full upstream and downstream processes across systems. Integrate test management tools with agile work management tools to better manage and track testing. Plan for a dedicated UAT at the sprints and stabilization period/sprints’ end. Conduct non-functional testing: integration testing, security testing, performance and load and stress testing. Have SMEs conduct User Acceptance Testing in various scenarios across transactions and systems. Continue automated regression testing and smoke/regression testing. Stress test on a regular basis and carry out regular penetration tests.


To summarize, the key to successful execution of a core system testing initiative is to ‘plan your project before you begin your project’. QA testing practices often face challenges with successful implementation and rollout if there is no preplanning and thought involved around how the project would work, what major milestones need to be achieved, and what is the high level scope. Insurers must consider a pre-project planning phase to develop a testing strategy along with the vendor prior to the inception of the project. The best practices outlined above would help insurers ensure success in core system testing.

Click below to view the webinar Achieving success in core systems testing on-demand featuring Novarica, Farmers Alliance, American National and ValueMomentum to better plan for core systems replacement.

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