How an insurance firm plans to be as disruptive as Steve Jobs

When quality assurance senior manager Austin Kwong gets to work in the morning at the Digital Garage of insurance firm Aviva Canada, he looks up at a big picture of Steve Jobs and feels inspired.

“He’s known as an innovator, as a disruptor, and that’s what we want to do at Aviva,” he says.

Kwong doesn’t work in the cubicle farm you might imagine an insurance company office would be. When he’s not at the Aviva head office, he collaborates with other engineers in a ‘digital garage’ – a lab space in downtown Toronto that invites a casual, yet hard-working atmosphere.

“When you see that environment, it’s a totally different office atmosphere,” he says. “Everyone is not prim and proper and wearing suits every day, it’s about working together to drive changes forward.”

Through a partnership with Cigniti Technologies, a strategic sourcing partner, it accomplished an efficiency gain of 20 per cent as it transformed its internal culture. This earned Aviva Canada a nomination for IT World Canada’s Digital Transformation Awards, taking place June 14 in Toronto.

Prior to the Spring of 2016, Kwong and his team were using HP QuickTest Pro to do their work. The QA team was responsible for making sure that project functionality met specifications before being rolled out to live production. But the solution left a lot of work to be done manually, slowing down Kwong and his team. So his boss, associate vice-president of quality assurance Jazz Bains, led a project to implement a new solution as part of the transformation.

Selenium Automation is software, but it also provides a framework for QA that Aviva modeled its team around. Aviva uses an agile work method and organizes sprints to complete specific projects. Cigniti helped deploy the solution and overhaul Aviva’s tooling landscape, processes and methodology, and more in its transformation effort.

The focus for the transformation was to create an atmosphere of innovation, speed, and innovation, says Pradeep Govindasamy, the president and chief technology officer for Cigniti’s North American division.

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“The thing about digital transformation is that it gives the enterprise a chance to connect directly with those utilizing their products or services,” Govindasamy wrote in nominating Aviva. “Immediate feedback and general support elevates the status of an enterprise and leaves behind a digital footprint.”

Or as Kwong puts more aptly, his QA team is “making sure that the overall experience and functionality of our applications is a good one,” no matter what the digital channel. The process starts with a “user story” that outlines the expected user experience. Then the team tests for end to end functionality that traces back to the user story and acceptance criteria, as well as the overall look and feel, such as ensuring the buttons are correctly sized and the colours are accurate.

Whereas it used to take about 10-15 minutes to manually create a policy for each request, Selenium’s software can automate a script that follows a workflow to process an entire batch of policies. Kwong says it’s typical they’ll spend five minutes setting it up, then leave it running overnight and come back to a batch of completed work.

The software can also automate testing of experiences in various web browsers and on different devices, so Kwong’s team knows their digital experience works well across platforms. The result of the automation of these tasks is that the QA team can focus on higher level work.

“We’re creating these cool looking interfaces,” he says. “Our company culture is transformed to put customers first and make things more simplistic.”

Prior to implementing Selenium, Aviva was using minimal test automation, but now it’s doing 80 per cent automated testing coverage for all the components it builds. The project has even cut costs, by reducing manual efforts by 55 per cent and increasing project intake by 20 per cent.  It’s also reduced licencing costs by a factor of 10.

Aviva’s transformation has helped accomplish the creation of more than 9,000 test cases, organized by tier-critical applications. Decisions on what makes it to the live environment are also more data driven based on the automated test results. As a result of the boosted access to its products and policies, Aviva has seen a “significant rise in revenue.”

Steve Jobs would approve.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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