Test Driving

~ by Randy Wagner

How to Find Issues Early in the QA Process

Learning how to QA a Policy Administration System (PAS) is a bit like learning how to drive. At first, everything seems to be coming at you. Task saturation can set in, and eyes shift from one potential danger to another. The real dangers can get lost in the mix and not show up until it’s too late. It can be exhausting and nerve-wracking. However, much like learning how to drive, it’s about paying attention and sticking to the basics.

Start Slow and Learn the Basics using Solid Test Cases

Ideally, lessons in a car begin in a deserted parking lot. Learn the basic functions. Get a feel for the sensitivity of the throttle, brakes, and steering at different speeds; then add in turn signals, wipers, hazard lights, etc. Likewise, in an open QA environment, poke through the system. Create a policy. Modify, cancel, reinstate, rewrite, and renew some. Even if you have a solid insurance background, it’s good to learn the flow of the system. This will help you write test cases.

Focus on Your Own Test Cases to Avoid Collisions

Once you are out on the road and in a shared QA environment, retain good fundamentals. Stay in your lane. Don’t use other people’s accounts or transactions as your test bed. Unless you know exactly what went into them, you may be chasing false positives when a test fails. Worse, you may invalidate someone else’s testing and that’s a fender bender you don’t want. Create your own to avoid bumping into other people.

Follow the Release Report, Pay Attention to the Signs, and Share with Other QAs

Pay attention to signs and signals. Don’t start testing until the code lands in the test environment. There should be a release report to identify what stories or defects have been implanted in any given environment. Pay attention in scrum when someone else notes issues with the system. Use your signals. Step on the brakes and communicate when you see issues­— even before you write up the defect—especially if it is a showstopper. Other QAs in your stream (even other streams) will appreciate a heads up on serious issues. If you hit a roadblock, look for a detour. Sometimes you can complete a transaction if you avoid a specific coverage or entity type without invalidating your test. Share that info too.

Seek out the Hazardous Areas like Integrations where Issues are Likely

Constantly look for danger. In a car, that includes unpredictable children and animals or other cars weaving through traffic. In a PAS, linked coverages and modifying out of the box time schedules are almost guaranteed to have defects whether you are in policy, billing, claims, or portal centers. Integrations are another hazardous area. Too often, they are tested in isolation and then problems are found in the functional centers because workflow hasn’t been fully fleshed out.

Work Slowly and Thoroughly to Keep Defects out of UAT and Production

Speeding is the second most common cause of accidents. Speed and QA are dangerous bedfellows; accidents happen when defects leak into UAT or, worse, Production. Drive through each test correctly the first time. It takes time to set up data and transactions again so better to be slower but thorough than speedy and repetitive. Wrong results impact the rest of the team.

Take the Necessary Steps that Allow You to Really Focus on the Task at Hand

But, the most common cause of car accidents, by far, is distracted driving. Focused QA, like focused driving leads to better outcomes. Whether you use headphones, a quiet room, or set the phone to silent, pay attention as you test. It is easy to lose a train of thought and miss something when your brain is absorbing too much. Focus on the task and get it done right.

Execute QA Well and Enjoy the Rewards

Like driving, testing isn’t difficult when you start with strong fundamentals and build from there. Everything comes into focus with the relative importance it should get. Execute well and you will get to your destination safely, quickly, and maybe even have some fun along the way.

Randy Wagner is Director of Quality Assurance for CastleBay Companies. He has 20 years of consulting experience across private and public sectors, Guidewire InsuranceSuite, InsuranceNow, and Duck Creek, with specializations in quality assurance, configuration management, and automation.