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Providing QA Testing and Applications Development Support for Seven Corners

Financial Services | QA and Testing, Application Development



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Seven Corners initiated a redesign of its processing system and required quality assurance (QA) and testing services before introducing the new system to the market.

Seven Corners is a privately-held international travel health insurance, trip insurance and specialty benefit management company. Established in 1993, the firm provides assistance and protection services to hundreds of thousands of international travelers, including US citizens traveling overseas and foreign nationals traveling to the U.S.

Agile methodology, .NET development and testing, Microsoft Team Foundation Server, SQL Server, SQL Server reporting services

Customer service is a key differentiator in the travel insurance market. Travel insurance and assistance services help travelers with emergencies ranging from locating lost luggage to finding an English-speaking doctor in a foreign location to organizing an emergency evacuation. The customer experience includes the process of initiating coverage, receiving services if needed and filing a claim for reimbursement. Customers value the tools available when evaluating and purchasing insurance services, but the claims processing experience often overshadows all other interactions between the traveler and the provider. New technologies can help automate the manual claims process and increase efficiency for the customer and the carrier. Web-based applications allow customers to report claims quickly and track their progress through the system, and providers can aggregate claims through internal databases and workflow software.

Seven Corners, a premier international travel health insurance, trip insurance and specialty benefit management company, initiated an upgrade to its insurance and claims processing tools. The existing system relied on manual entry and lacked customer functionality. Seven Corners planned to enhance the claims process through automation and provide 24/7 traveler support, resulting in increased revenue and lower operational costs. The existing system was based on manual processing cycles, which led to slow turnaround times on claims requests and redundancy of effort. Once the client made the decision to upgrade, they set a goal to bring the new system to market as soon as possible. Due to a lack of internal capacity and expertise in the testing function, Seven Corners planned to outsource the quality assurance (QA) and testing services needed for the new system.

Challenges:

Speed and agility: Our client needed to bring their new application to market quickly in order to keep pace with customer demands and attract new customers. Testing services had to keep pace with the development effort and ensure quality of the new system. Eventually, the development effort was accelerated, increasing the need for quality assurance.

Flexibility: Since the testing function was needed for this one stand-alone project, the client did not require full-time testing resources. Seven Corners had to balance the need for a skilled team with the time required to recruit and hire a team for a short-term goal.

TEKsystems proposed a ‘follow the sun’ testing model to meet the aggressive delivery schedule for the new claims system. ‘Follow the sun’ shifts workflow across geographic locations and time zones to provide 24-hour coverage, increasing efficiency and reducing production cycles. The TEKsystems solution included an engagement manager and QA testers on site with Seven Corners in Indianapolis, a QA lead based in our Montreal Solution Centre (MSC) in Quebec, Canada and QA testers based in our Whitefield Solution Center (WSC) in Bangalore, India. This team provided real-time and overnight software testing support of the daily code developed by the internal staff.

The transparency of the testing process and transition between Indianapolis, Montreal and Bangalore, coupled with TEKsystems’ expertise in agile development, led Seven Corners to select TEKsystems for the QA and testing engagement. The testing model we proposed, a hybrid of near-shore, off-shore and on-site service, allowed Seven Corners’ developers to work under a strict deadline while also providing external validation of the testing code TEKsystems presented a flexible solution that could accommodate fluctuation in testing cycles and ramp up and ramp down as needed to meet demand.

Methodology

The TEKsystems testing team provided bench testing, system testing, regression testing and complete testing documentation for the new system. TEKsystems handled the recruiting of new resources as project needs dictated. Seven Corners was involved in the interview process, and TEKsystems managed all onboarding and training.

The project was managed using an agile development model that segmented tasks into smaller increments. Agile development is characterized by collaboration and process adaptability. Since Seven Corners’ new system was being designed as the testers were providing quality assurance, an agile methodology allowed for change and revision throughout each step of the process.

TEKsystems and Seven Corners utilized a scrum method, where each task was broken into a period known as a sprint. TEKsystems integrated with the scrum sessions in order to communicate testing needs across the teams supporting the initiative. The follow the sun testing model transitioned code between the three sites in the following manner:

Testers were managed by a TEKsystems QA lead in Montreal. The team grew from six people to more than 30 testers, data analysts and .NET developers at a time. TEKsystems managed the recruitment of the on-site team members and presented resumes and candidates to Seven Corners. Once Seven Corners made the hiring decision for on-site candidates, TEKsystems assumed responsibility for onboarding and training each new hire. TEKsystems managed the hiring and training for all off-site team members.

Once the testing model was in place, TEKsystems identified the need to assist the client with the system development efforts. The QA testers outpaced the developers. Instead of slowing the testing phase to match the development pace, Seven Corners and TEKsystems collaborated to solve the issue by expanding the TEKsystems solution to include development support. As the project moved forward, TEKsystems provided more developers than testers. We initially placed developers on site at Seven Corners and due to the success of this team, TEKsystems added report developers and debugging developers to the team working in India. The additional development support further accelerated the arrival of the new system to market, and it also reduced Seven Corners’ operational costs involved in supporting the old system.

As a result of the testing services provided around the clock, Seven Corners received accelerated testing compared to a traditional workday model. Further, the WSC testing team provided a much higher level of quality in the code for the new  system and the model allowed the developers to work on the tested code immediately. 

The new system passed an internal audit and an ISO audit in India due to the strong governance and quality control provided by the TEKsystems testers. 

Lessons Learned

A follow the sun testing model requires communication across different time zones, consistency among the project teams and strong oversight to complete the handoffs seamlessly. We identified the following factors that helped structure this project properly and deliver results to the client: 

  • Oversight provided by the engagement manager TEKsystems provided an engagement manager,based on site at the client’s location in Indianapolis. The engagement manager handled all training and development on the testing team, including adding new team members as workload warranted. Quality handoffs and documentation between teams is critical. The engagement manager was a liaison between the locations working on the project–coordinating services between Indianapolis, Montreal and Bangalore and working in conjunction with practice leaders and project managers in each location. TEKsystems’communicationmodelwas highlighted by the client as critical to the success of the project. 
  • Team synergy The success of this project was tied to the team synergy and adaptation to corporate culture. Due to the leadership of the engagement manager, each team member had clear expectations of their roles, responsibilities and conduct, leading to a smooth working environment and seamless interactions across teams. 
  • Partnership with the client Seven Corners and TEKsystems worked together to address concerns and direction of the engagement.We collaborated to find the best testing model and we also worked closely with the client to explore the addition of assuming additional applications development responsibilities. The relationship was built on trust and consistency of service.