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StarBase Aon Case Study

Category: Case Studies

Background

The insurance industry is one of the most fiercely competitive sectors today. Customers want

comprehensive protection but they also want the lowest premiums possible. If one insurance

company can’t offer all this, another will. Demanding customers are only a part of the equation.

Insurance companies have to cope with an ever-changing world of higher risks, increasing

litigation and fluctuating equity portfolios.

 

One way of remaining competitive is to reduce overheads and streamline core business

functions. Employing smart IT solutions that can slash man-hours wasted on manual tasks

allows companies to deploy skilled staff for other work.

StarBase have proved themselves to be much more than a service provider, they have evolved with us to be a valuable extension of our IT department 

– Matt Cowdrey,Project Manager

The problem

Aon’s Document Manager application houses around five million documents that are key to its

business functions. The application manages and stores much of the company’s day-to-day

workflow and generates many key documents, such as emails, word documents, PDFs and

spreadsheets.

 

The company regularly implements upgrades to Document Manager and it is vital that these

new features are tested to ensure there are no detrimental knock-on effects to previous versions

of the software. Therefore, regression testing has to be carried out each time a new version of

Document Manager is implemented. According to Neil Higgin, Aon’s test analyst, many different

tests were run to check different aspects of the functionality. This was a time-consuming,

repetitive and laborious task.  On average it took around five working days to complete all the

tasks.

 

Aon believed there had to be a more efficient method and, having had a successful relationship

with StarBase on previous projects, they commissioned them to find an automated solution to

the problem.

The solution

Before commencing any automation project, it is essential to determine two things – is it

technically possible (proof of concept), and will there be a measurable return on investment

(proof of value). 

 

The proof of concept determines whether the application is sufficiently stable and the test

process mature enough to support automation testing.  It is also used to establish which

automation tool is most appropriate for the project – QuickTestPro or WinRunner.  Finally it is a

good opportunity to discover any particular issues likely to be encountered during the

automation design phase.

 

During the technical investigation, StarBase determined that WinRunner was the best tool for

the project given the underlying code of the document management system.  However, they

discovered that the application was using unique ActiveX objects in its code, which required

the development of workarounds to enable WinRunner to interface with these objects.

It runs a number of tests, giving us the chance to test absolutely everything and shows up any problems early on. It also allows us to carry out testing that we might not have been able to do before as often as we like 

– Neil Higgin, Aon

 

StarBase then ran an evaluation process to ensure that Aon’s current testing processes were

mature enough to cope with and support automation.  Given the strength of both the on-site

team and Aon’s test process, they determined automation was technically possible.

 

The proof of value was determined by calculating the current cost of testing versus the cost of

introducing automation.  In this instance, StarBase calculated that a return on investment was

possible within 1 year.

 

Once the design phase was initiated, StarBase worked with Aon’s IT team to identify and

prioritise the candidate tests.  From a total of 30 scripts, StarBase consultants narrowed the

field down to just 15 that were business critical and the most time-consuming to execute.  This

included every-day tasks that could be affected by a new release of the application.

 

Once the scripts were complete, StarBase conducted extensive testing to ensure the code was

stable and maintainable.  The final test was to run the scripts against the new release and

update them alongside Aon’s test team.  The final phase was to hand the new automated

processes over to Aon to ensure the on-site team could continue using and maintaining the

scripts without StarBase assistance.

The Results

Implementing a more sophisticated and powerful software solution rarely delivers immediate

benefits. But the payback time for the initial outlay on this project was realised by the end of the

first quarter because WinRunner had slashed the time it takes to carry out regression tests.

According to Neil Higgin, the tests that once took a day to execute now run in just one hour.