Featured Webinar: Unveiling Parasoft C/C++test CT for Continuous Testing & Compliance Excellence | Watch Now

Reading Time: 4 minutes


As a not-for-profit life insurance company in the United States, WoodmenLife has been helping to protect the financial future of families and making a difference in hometowns across America.

Though still a very person-oriented industry, the work that WoodmenLife does benefits from automation, too. Changing technology means adapting to the needs of clients and improving efficiency, output, and processes. To maintain a high level of financial performance, the company shifted from waterfall to Agile methodology.

The Challenge

When WoodmenLife decided to move development from waterfall to Agile, it raised a big question: How could they bring an updated automated testing methodology into the entire process?

With more than 10 years in quality assurance roles and leading automation efforts, Danny Oslin knew that the Agile moniker would not mean that quality would follow effortlessly. However, his QA management and automation experience led him to endorse Agile as the foundation to deliver value to the organization.

“Looking at getting quality embedded within those Agile teams, it’s one thing when you say we want to be Agile. You don’t just become Agile suddenly and then everything starts working well. And you certainly don’t get to a high level of quality right out of the gate either.”

—Danny Oslin, Manager of Enterprise Automation at WoodmenLife

Because waterfall is a linear-sequential life cycle model, testing is always done upon completion of each phase. This model doesn’t allow for continuous pipelines, a methodology that can greatly improve early bug identification and risk management.

Continuous Integration & Continuous Deployment

The ultimate goal for Oslin’s automation team is a true continuous integration and deployment (CI/CD) development and testing environment. Before, the team was using a model where QAs primarily went through the UI, which is too far to the right on the timeline.

Instead of testing for unknowns, the mantra “test early and often” became the new plan. That meant the team needed to gain an understanding of what and when to test. And that brought up the whole concept of shift-left testing within the development cycle.

Shifting left entails preventing problems and mitigating risks ahead of time versus addressing bugs after deployment.

“To shift left, change how you’re working, not the work you’re doing. Transform the mindset and the processes, redefine your strategy, and use the tools to help achieve that goal.”

—Danny Oslin, Manager of Enterprise Automation at WoodmenLife

The Approach

To help transition from the waterfall mindset of waiting until the end of the development cycle to test, Oslin and his team leveraged a “Three Amigos” concept made up of three key teams.

  1. Requirements writers
  2. Developers
  3. QA engineers

In discussions among the Three Amigos, they established a clear understanding of what would be required from their respective roles to accomplish the goal.

Automated Transparency & Documentation for Better Workflows

If a tester isn’t privileged to knowledge or information before work begins, they lose valuable time gathering that information. This causes churn in teams because they have to get clarification from developers on expectations. Instead of having detached silos, the new approach allows for a shared understanding of the work scope, expectations, and workflows.

WoodmenLife’s developers understand the importance of unit testing and will incorporate it earlier into the development life cycle. This will ensure that everything works the way it should from the developer’s perspective. After that, functional tests at the service level ensure that things function properly.

By the time the code gets deployed to the QA team, the testers have developed a test plan
with adequate and appropriate test cases to ensure the desired results.

The Solution

Having to run the entire UI automation within a small window of time in a sprint became a bottleneck. To shift their testing to the left for efficiency, their Agile adoption involves extending test automation beyond the UI to the unit and service levels.

The Parasoft solution enables them to perform both unit and API testing within their Agile workflow. From how they do the builds and handle deployments to test and workflow management, it has become a foundational change in strategy.

The team has reduced four weeks of manual UI testing effort down to three hours for automated API service level testing for one release test cycle. On a monthly release cadence, they saved 500 hours of manual testing.

With a measured approach toward Agile, the team started with developers working on the code. The next step was for the automation engineers to write out the test automation so that, upon code delivery, the automation is ready to be executed.

It takes a high degree of collaboration between QA and Dev to pull this off. The code must become more testable, requiring the team to modify the way they write the code for the UI to make control identification easier. Parasoft’s platform clearly shows code coverage with visible results that help to mitigate risk without manually scoring or maintaining tests. This allows Olsin and his team to define the test coverage for applications and measure its accuracy.

The Results

Parasoft SOAtest and Virtualize allow the automation team to transition most of their functional testing to service-level testing or API testing. This will ensure that everything works properly to deliver data to present through the UI by using virtual services.

Parasoft CTP also helps them control the environment they need for testing the payment system. They can test and verify that the payment system is functioning properly by isolating it
from the backend and using a virtual service to handle the traffic. This eliminates the manual effort that was required to identify and remove invalid payments generated in the production system from the testing.

Ultimately, what Oslin learned was that by educating developers on the value and importance of automated testing and involving the QA team earlier, the company could improve processes and make things better for their team and clients.

Their new workflow leverages best practices of static analysis and unit testing. It also adds API testing with service virtualization, while still performing an appropriate amount of UI testing to cover the entire application. Automated integration testing ensures WoodmenLife meets its full requirements.

Learn how your team can benefit from Agile development and seamlessly move to a CI/CD workflow to continuously deliver quality.

  • Industry: Insurance
  • Company Size: 1,500
  • Location: Omaha, NE
  • Solution: SOAtest, Virtualize, CTP