By Vaibhav Shukla, Senior Vice President, Global Services, Itiviti
Automating quality assurance across a range of procedures provides cost benefit and productivity improvements.
The financial industry is constantly evolving, driven by a mix of new business and regulatory requirements. The implementation of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) II in Europe, for instance, is spurring a tectonic technology transition. With these rapid changes in the industry and the rising cost of errors in production systems, the quality assurance function is gaining importance, and is increasingly seen as a business-critical investment and not just a cost centre.
Automated testing and common use cases
Automation is a natural evolution evident in any industry, be it agriculture, vehicles or financial software. The core driver is the need is to automate “well defined, repeatable, and costly” operations. Instead of devoting efforts to manual testing, a similar effort spent on designing the test harness and automating the test executions may produce a huge cost benefit and productivity increase. A computer can run 4,000 test scenarios on a complex infrastructure system in a matter of minutes — where it would have taken days or even weeks as manual task.
As a rule of thumb: if you must do the same task twice you should automate. One area where we see clients benefit from automating quality assurance is where unit testing, integration testing, and regression testing is integrated with the automated software build systems within a continuous integration process. Other areas with strong cases for automation are change management and service virtualization.
To illustrate, imagine that you’re investing in new infrastructure software for managing client flow, but the software is still under development. Traditionally, you would wait for the software to be completed. Automated testing can save time by virtualizing the new environment for your clients to test against and validate their interfaces before going live. Additionally, you can use all the known client flows to continuously test against your software in development to ensure it will be fit for the purpose and scope.
Quality assurance in the light of MiFID II
The introduction of MiFID II was a momentous event impacting European trading operations even before it was implemented. Every aspect of trading was affected by this regulation and therefore practically all aspects of trading infrastructure software have required testing in light of the new requirements.
At Itiviti, we have supervised re-development and re-certification of nearly every client connection as well as platform changes from all venues in the FIX and native protocols. We offer venue emulators and venue simulators enabling clients to test their workflows in both FIX and native protocols using our MiFID II Certification Service and our industry leading on-boarding solution, Itiviti Conductor. We are using the same tools internally to manage and assist the quality assurance process for new Itiviti products and upgrades.
Our clients’ view on VeriFIX by Itiviti
In March 2017, Itiviti asked TechValidate, an independent third-party research firm, to survey clients who use our Quality Assurance product VeriFIX by Itiviti, to discern product usage and evolving trends in testing automation. This survey provided essential guidance, helping us design the new enterprise offering in the area of automated testing.
Clients identified the following as the most common challenges in quality assurance:
- Continuous integration and regression testing.
- Unit and isolation testing with multiple protocols.
- Session level testing with the end points including using service virtualization.
- Test harness design to catch black swans/unexpected or known race conditions.
Testing automation efforts are mainly focused on first three aspects:
Automated testing on the rise.
The proliferation of automated testing is evident from the way clients are using VeriFIX by Itiviti. Among those who use later versions of VeriFIX (6.0 or higher), nearly three quarters reported using it for regression testing while just 38% use it for manual click testing as seen in the chart below.
500–2000 or more automated test cases.
Users who perform regression testing will quickly build a critical mass of automated test cases – 61% have created 500–2000 or more. As the volume increases, test case management including re-usable framework, collaboration, and version control becomes an important element of an enterprise solution.
Quality assurance teams the main users.
VeriFIX by Itiviti is today predominantly used by quality assurance teams with nearly 72% of the user base identifying themselves as such – a change from the early days of this product when it was primarily used by support desks.
50% of the users of older versions (4.x, 5.x) identify themselves as support staff, whereas 82% of the users of newer versions (6.1, 6.3) are quality assurance. Another trend influencing product design is that quality assurance has become an integral part of the development and deployment process.
We expect continued strong momentum towards automated testing, driven by increasingly complex and comprehensive testing needs as well as transformative industry trends and events such as MiFID II. We envision a highly integrated continuous testing environment and are currently investing in next-level automation that will further reduce the cost of test design and management building an enterprise-level platform.
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