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Understanding the Shift to Behavioral Driven Development in Insurance

Insurance industry relies heavily on leveraging the strong business knowledge held by its analysts, including the actuaries, underwriters, and core business users. Ensuring that the system caters to all the business-intensive functions is key for any product release. Even the smallest code change has a heavy potential to impact the legacy business rules in any system. Also, there is no reliable regression methodology that involves the testing strategy vetted by core business users. Behavioral Driven Development (BDD) provides the business aspect of testing and thus minimizes the business issues within the vast logic-intensive healthy systems.

Agile and adaptive insurance companies have successfully utilized strategies such as Test Driven Development (TDD) and Behavioral Driven Development (BDD) to cope with the dynamics of the business, and have thereby achieved growth.

Time-to-Market – Does Insurance Sector Need This?

Insurance companies thrive better in direct proportion to their ability to launch new products and features at the right time, be it a business functionality or a technology release.

Insurance players often struggle in testing of the products more than the development pieces. Insurance is all about high volume of data and heavy business rules. The smallest of the code change can prove to be a disaster in production, unless it is thoroughly tested. Time-to-market thus becomes a key differentiator between competing companies.

Why Automation?

Insurance industry needs more automation as it has higher reliance on thorough testing of complex business rules and legacy business logic. Right use of automation in testing helps seamlessly capture any possible test scenarios.

When it comes to repetition, think automation! This is the least of the expectations to implement automation. This used to be the trigger point to automate anything in the technology industry. Things have changed. Regression is not the only reason for automation now, but is also to test missing scenarios that manual testers can possibly miss. There are some testing scenarios that have too many prerequisite steps, or that are tested only during specific or sporadic situations.

Insurance industry needs more automation as it has higher reliance on thorough testing of complex business rules and legacy business logic. Right use of automation in testing helps seamlessly capture any possible test scenarios.

Barriers to Manual Testing Approach

In the insurance industry, most code is written based on business logic, and most of the processing is done in the form of batch programs. Manual testers struggle to test these areas.

Some challenges during the life of any project are:

  • Manual testers rely a lot on developers to understand the business logic, and therefore derive what needs to be tested. This method of capturing test strategy is inappropriate.

Business logic should be automated, and not created by developers.

  • When functional complexity increases, manual testers tend to restrict themselves to only black box testing, and therefore skip most of the details and conditions of business rules.

  • Ineffective involvement of the right stakeholders can impede the successful execution of a project. No matter how well the teams try and understand the requirements from the stakeholders, there is always some gap in understanding and delivering the right product. Stakeholder involvement is a key to success of any project.

  • Agile methodology has minimized the gap between the development team and the stakeholders. However, effective testing is still on the critical path of getting the right product to market.

Behavioral Driven Development engages the testing team, development team, product owners, and the business stakeholders to participate in creating the intended product. It facilitates the stakeholders to create white box-like test scenarios with no developmental knowledge. Straightforward, semantically-clear, pure English-based business language is what is needed to capture these scenarios.

Requisites for BDD Transformation

  • Involve your stakeholders, especially the core Business resources

  • Analyze and understand the areas of BDD fitment within products or applications

  • Select the right framework for implementing BDD

  • Combine BDD with traditional test to come up with a customized test strategy

  • BDD works best in an agile environment, adapt agile methodology

  • Educate your resources and stakeholders for this cultural change

  • Work toward optimizing your development process

Typical BDD Test Scenario

Use Case: A new rule is added to the Agent Commissions engine, where if the Agent is associated with the insurer for more than 15 years, and if the closed business value is greater than 100K in written premium, then the Agent will get an extra 0.01% commission added to their commission value.

Test Scenario: Manually create or search for an Agent with fulfilling criteria, and then get the transaction created which will qualify for commission, and an added percentage on commission (per use case criteria).

The challenge starts when this condition needs to be tested along with a few new rules, without breaking the above commission payment rule. It is challenging for a manual tester to test all the available business rules after any change is made to the rules engine, or to any associated parameters

BDD Solution: A BDD framework enables business users to capture test scenarios in the domain-specific language. The skeleton statements by the business users should then be implemented by automation testing resources. This test case can then be executed on demand or as regression with any changes. It gives the ability to seamlessly test the product while ensuring nothing breaks.

A simple example of the above use case for BDD domain language is:

The above file is called either a story or a feature file. The business users should invariably maintain these domain language-based scenarios. Automation testers can then implement these scenarios for appropriate business outcomes.

Behavior driven development strategy shrinks the gap between capturing valid requirements, writing code and designing automated tests. Rooted in strong daily cross-functional collaboration, BDD ensures speedy, qualitative, and high-value applications for customers.

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