Changes in the Financial Services Sector Create New Demands for IT Testing; Service Providers Invest in Solutions to Meet the Need | Article
WIPRO TREND WATCHER: A Conversation with Velayudham Vasudevan, General Manager, Business Solutions Group of Testing Enabled Services, BFSI
Competition for banking, financial services, and insurance customers has become keen in this economy. So companies in the Banking, Financial Institutions and Insurance (BFSI) space are eager to launch their newest products or applications (e.g. banking from mobile phones, cloud infrastructure, etc.) as quickly as possible.
That requires a tectonic change in application testing for IT developers. Now their customers are demanding the quickest possible market launch without sacrificing any of the quality or raising the cost. “Companies have to launch quickly to leverage their business competitiveness,” says Velayudham Vasudevan, General Manager, Business Solutions Group of Testing Enabled Services, BFSI for Wipro Technologies. “Yet they still require ambitious quality commitment. There is less tolerance for defects. And they want to cut costs by increasing productivity to reduce operating expenses,” he explains.
Wipro and other service providers have devised ways to meet all three objectives: by creating frameworks (pre-developed solutions/ accelerators) so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every new application. This piece outlines this new trend.
How the financial services industry is changing
Why now? Vasudevan, who goes by Vasu, says the industry “is going through drastic changes,” thanks to the economy. Companies in this sector are “cautiously yet optimistically leveraging their recovery from this recession.”
Vasu notes financial institutions, brokerage firms, and insurance companies have put a priority on the ability to retain their current customers. “They have to protect their existing business and at the same time expand and grow new opportunities,” the Wipro executive explains.
These constant changes make agility a key component. “Adaptability to changing customer needs is key,” says Vasu.
IT, of course, enables these new opportunities. The changing environment has altered the way IT application and development must work. “Today customers expect IT to deliver at the speed the business needs,” Vasu says. “The demand for time to market for business is pushing IT to become more innovative to deliver faster. Today business priorities drive IT.”
Testing becomes even more important because companies in the BFSI sector are placing an increased emphasis on the customer experience.
Over the years changes in the business requirements and competition have compressed the software development life cycle. Service providers are developing new-age applications using the Agile methodology where the sprints are about four to six weeks long. The testing organizations are sandwiched between delayed requirements and fixed release cycles.
Hence the new trends are emerging around innovative solutions, embedded development-testing cycles, risk-based testing, and test-driven development. Performance and security testing are no longer at the end of test cycle activities but instead are now becoming a continuous activity in the development cycle.
The testing solution: develop the framework
Wipro’s solution to this testing challenge was to invest in its “Accelerated Business Quality Assurance“ framework. He says Wipro “had to put skin in the game and come up with a practical solution that works.”
That practical solution is a framework. In essence it is “an innovative process to test faster,” explains Vasu. The goal of the framework was “to integrate business domain knowledge, applications, and user requirements in testing to shorten the cycle time yet still deliver the application at the highest quality,” he continues.
Wipro engineers realized that many of the BFSI processes are similar, no matter whether the financial institution is in South America, South Africa, or South Carolina. They developed a test framework that developers can quickly customize for any bank. “This means we don’t have to develop testing requirements from scratch every time we do one,” explains Vasu. Instead, the service provider just has to test the “smaller amount of customized code.”
Since the testers now have a much smaller amount of code to test, they can bring a new application to the market faster.
Currently Wipro has completed the frameworks for banking, insurance, and capital markets, helping customers realize measurable benefits.
The framework’s benefits
The framework has three major benefits:
- Process standardization
- Operational consolidation
- Productivity levers
In the past service providers had fragmented views of a business process, say, a few steps in payment processing. The integrated applications at the banks require testers to have a complete view of the business processes and assure functional and non-functional requirements. The framework enables Wipro to get involved in the entire process from end to end. “Our testers check for quality across multiple applications, integration points,” Vasu explains.
By handling an entire process end to end, Wipro’s testers can “rework the business process to meet the business’s needs,” says Vasu. This makes Wipro “a business assurance provider.”
A new kind of tester
Vasu says today there is a “fundamental shift” in testing. Testers (and the developers) now are much more than nitpickers looking for bugs in the code. Today “they have to think like the end-user and understand a user’s experience with the application,” says Vasu.
He says Wipro testers become “the spokesperson for the end-users in the development process.”
Today banking customers have become even more demanding. “Banks do not want to lose business because of the poor quality of an application,” points out the Wipro executive. That means testers can’t compromise on quality even though customer demands have compressed the testing cycle.
For this reason Wipro has its testers involved in the application process from the outset. “Our expectation is for the tester to provide value-adds during the upstream activities in the SDLC (software development life cycle),” says Vasu. Now a tester’s jobs starts at the beginning, not the end of the development process. At Wipro this improves the development process because the tester can point out any problems early on, even in the requirements phase.
The bottom line: Consumers will get new applications faster. Financial institutions and service companies have a new tool to compete. And outsourcing service providers like Wipro can rework processes and provide the underlying IT to make it all happen faster, better, and cheaper.
When a banking customer makes a deposit with an iPhone, a Wipro tester has to be smiling.