Case study: Banking on change with Acutest testing for Financial Software Limited
Background to the project
Financial Software Limited’s (FSL) showpiece capital gains calculation and investment tax management product (CGiX) was sometimes performing at slower speeds than expected. However, the system lacked intuitive baseline reporting to diagnose running issues swiftly, the FSL technical teams needed a better testing solution. Manual performance testing was ineffective and time-consuming, and the team needed to transform the approach with performance testing. Whilst being a software service provider themselves, they knew their offering had to live up to the standards expected by their client-base. Fortunately, they recognised a testing intervention was needed and reached out to an existing service provider, Acutest, to gain precision.
How Acutest became the partner of choice
Acutest have a defined way of working that shapes everything they do, how they interact and how they measure success. Their core principles and practices centre around our customer-centric and fail fast approach which identifies the biggest or most imminent risks and blockers. Because they prioritise testing where customers need it most, they deliver all-round quality control.
Due to their existing working relationship, FSL sought Acutest’s help to enhance their testing and maintain their standing as market leaders. With that in mind, Acutest were well-placed to review FSL’s in-house testing capabilities (TIP) and made recommendations to enable them to gain control of testing. Following this review, FSL welcomed the idea of having an automation framework (CDAF) in place. They had already worked with Acutest since 2016, so in April 2020 they signed a three-year agreement to ramp up their innovation.
“We knew Acutest had a great track-record and a reputation for transparency and honesty. They gave us solutions to problems we didn’t know we had. Their testing intervention added tangible value across Financial Software Limited.” Joe Hughes, Infrastructure Director at Financial Software Limited
Calling time on manual performance testing
Before the project began, Joe Hughes, Infrastructure Director confirms where the difficulties were: “what was one person’s idea of slow, might not be slow for the next. We had no way to reference historical data for performance issues which did not exist previously. We had no handle on trend analysis. Troubleshooting where code may have disrupted performance was time consuming.”
With this in mind, Acutest set the automated testing approach to ensure FSL could identify the clear linkage from business priorities to tests run. Then, results were reported for continued improvement. With this approach, scenarios captured the shared understanding of behaviour and then become the scripts of the automated tests.
The Benefits to Financial Software Limited
Acutest have given FSL renewed confidence in their own software capabilities. Through Selenium, they now have the power to agree and change the content of the tests and have visibility of results dashboard. Due to this, the ability to drill down to individual results has dramatically reduced the time needed to take part in testing releases, increasing precision.
“We can apply baselines to any area. Even things which don’t seem contentious right now can be monitored with trend analysis and can predict outages. We came to Acutest with what we thought was a narrow issue, but they widened the scope for us.” Joe Hughes, Infrastructure Director at Financial Software Limited
The Outcomes of the Project
Afterwards solution was embraced by FSL for progressively building end-to-end test capability. Due to this automation assets can be re-used to help test other parts of the service. These are then shared between teams to build a complete automated test capability.
Clearly, a strong working relationship was forged during the project, as Joe adds: “Processes were welcomed and taken onboard; we have learnt a lot from Acutest. Some of their documentation is phenomenal – they follow through on processes and execute them consistently.”
Moreover, the ability to flex elements of the project up and down according to requirements was also appreciated by FSL. This meant that the number of Acutest specialists assigned to them varied from two to six over the course of the project. At their core, Acutest pride themselves on empowering clients to perform ‘testing without testers’. This means non-test professionals and no-technical testers can invoke, or review results of test run. This is done via tools for delivery management and governance. By doing this, FSL’s developers and business users had the opportunity to raise issues that the core team may not have spotted.
FSL has been producing and implementing market leading software since its foundation in 1994. Their clients include investment banks, private banks, wealth management firms, specialist tax consultancies and service providers. CGiX, their capital gains calculation and investment tax management product, has ‘best of breed’ status within the taxation software industry.
- Loading speeds for showpiece CGiX platform
- Manual performance testing caused significant inefficiencies