Insurance Quality Assurance

Insurance QA Modernization: Insights from Pekin & NJM

The insurance industry is transitioning from relying on manual testing to fully modernized quality assurance approaches, embracing required strategies, practices, and technologies. For insurers, this means QA automation for core systems transformations. As discussed in our  insurance QA modernization webinar, Achieving Quality with Speed in Core Implementation, 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 and are implementing robust QA as a strategic enterprise function early in the software development lifecycle.

Insurers are no longer seeing QA as a matter of either quality or speed to market; now, it’s about quality at speed.

To understand how an insurer can transition from a traditional testing model to a strategic QA model, let’s take a look at project insights from Pekin Insurance and NJM Insurance.

Pekin Insurance: PIVOT for 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 Subhasis Mukherjee, CIO, Pekin Insurance, their 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 culture has long been focused on enterprise-wide continuous improvement. As Angie Walko, the company’s QA Supervisor stated in the webinar, NJM began its core and digital transformation journey about a decade ago, when 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 stakeholders on basic software delivery concepts, and continuous improvement approaches, including QA automation.

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 is 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 Insurance QA Modernization Success

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

Infographic of 3 key components of successful insurance QA

  • Test Everything, All the Time. While 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.
  • 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 employees and resources from partners 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 and retain them full-time, consider hiring interns and rotate them across the IT department for holistic training, not just 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.
  • Form Strategic QA Partnerships. With the seismic shift in software development and testing 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.

Embracing agile, shift-left, QA automation, and CI/CD significantly helps insurance firms of any size to stay competitive in a fundamentally altered industry landscape. Furthermore, insurance QA modernization can also substantially help insurers mitigate the inherently risky process of transforming and continuously evolving core systems to address new market challenges and opportunities.

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