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 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. 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.”

A recent change that came out of the garage for Aviva was a total restoration of the company’s end-agent experience. The company wanted to be able to take quote requests online and quickly respond to prospective clients in an automated fashion. It also wanted to provide its support agents with the tools needed to easily communicate with customers and answer their questions. Through a partnership with Cigniti Technologies, it accomplished that as it transformed its internal culture. The project also 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, assistant vice-president of quality assurance Jazz Bains, led a project to implement a new solution.

Selenium Automation is software, but it also provides a framework for QA that Aviva modeled its team around. It uses an agile work method and organizes sprints to complete specific projects. Cigniti helped deploy the solution and communicate the new method of working to Aviva’s team. The focus for the project was to create an atmosphere of innovation, speed, and innovation, says Raghavendra Hunasgi, Cigniti’s marketing director.

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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,” he 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 experience of applying for a quote is a good one,” no matter what the digital channel. The process starts with a “user story” that outlines the expected user experience. Then it plucks apart each aspect of that process, diving down to specifics such as the size and colour of a button that needs to be clicked.

Whereas it used to take about 10-15 minutes to 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 automatic testing for all the components it builds. The project has even cut costs, reducing licencing costs from the ballpark of $200,000 down to a more reasonable $10,000.

Now it’s accomplished 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
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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