In today’s digital world, banking applications have evolved to become the most complex application in the software development and testing industry. On one hand digital changes are a lot more frequent than earlier, on the other hand, banking technology architectures are increasingly more distributed and complex, encompassing multi layered applications, ESBs, cloud, microservices, APIs etc. and deploy multiple technologies within business transactions and user interactions. This rapidly increasing velocity of business change along with complex technology integration requires an equally agile testing technique to maintain high quality and deliver a seamless user experience at all times.
Testing banking applications requires an end-to-end testing approach that provides total coverage of the business functionality, data combinations, non-functional requirements such as performance and security tests and user experience.
A traditional testing approach faces multiple challenges to deliver on such expectations. Frequent delays in testing negatively impact product development lifecycles. Most organizations wait until the user interface is ready to start testing the product. The wait for target readiness slows down the process and incorrectly maps the user journey. Waiting to complete interaction tests greatly hampers the look and feel of the interface and incurs costly rework. Non-functional tests are performed almost just prior to go-live leaving very little time to accurately assess and address business risks.
To address the challenges of traditional testing, continuous development and deployment are enabling the use of continuous testing across the software development lifecycle (SDLC). A global industry analysis and forecast expects the continuous testing market to grow at a CAGR of 16.84 percent between 2018 to 2026. The Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI) sector is a major contributor to the continuous testing market.
Continuous testing is performed at every stage of development and through integration, staging, and production environments. It is a concept or a framework that involves the interaction between departments of QA, developers, engineers, and DevOps professionals. The main objective of continuous testing is to ensure high quality by providing quantitative inputs to assess business risks through test feedback at every stage of the release cycle.
Well-functioning banking applications rely on an effective and efficient continuous testing strategy that includes functional and non-functional tests on a “shift left” basis. When executed correctly, continuous testing serves as the backbone for all agile downstream processes; delivering automates tests as part of the SDLC. Organizations can enjoy accelerated time-to-market, improve productivity, efficiency, and quality while improving customer satisfaction. Excellence in continuous testing is essential for mitigating business risks and speeding up the go-to-market of applications. A common misconception is that continuous testing means more automation. While automation is required at every stage of continuous testing, it is just one of the many aspects of CT. an efficient CT requires well orchestration of automation, tools, test environment and test data management, service virtualization and most importantly DevOps culture which eliminates silos across teams and centralize the team to work towards a common objective with a robust feedback loop at every stage. While continuous testing brings so many benefits, it is equally challenging to implement.
Organizations recognize the inefficiencies in their systems greatly impact the quality of the software product. But the banking sector faces its own set of unique challenges when implementing continuous testing. This is due to the sensitivity of data, security and privacy issues, changing regulatory landscape, and the emergence of new technology. The applications are notorious for their multi-dependencies that require longer testing times, more resources, and continuous monitoring.
- Scaling issues
A key challenge for continuous testing is the volume and complexity of testing as it reaches the production environment. Frequent test updating at different phases increases the overall time it takes to run the tests. Banks can get around the challenge by running shorter test sprint cycles, along with policy gates and manual intervention until the code is pushed to the production environment.
- Continuous feedback loops
Without frequent feedback loops at every stage, continuous testing cannot take place. This part of continuous testing is particularly difficult to implement. To provide the real depth of insights to fix issues, real-time dashboards can facilitate the continuous feedback mechanism.
- Security and privacy
Owing to the sensitive nature of the data, banking applications have to undergo rigorous security testing. Security testing is a crucial part of the testing cycle. By integrating continuous testing in security testing from the beginning, an organization benefits with:
- Real-time feedback on any security issue in the application code
- Consistent quality with an automated security testing system
- An efficient and reliable security testing framework
- Reduction in costs as issues are detected early and fixed
Unlike traditional test environments that can be built in minutes, the test cases for continuous testing need to be run multiple times in pre-production. A limited availability of test cases can create a bottleneck of tests. For maintaining continuity, virtualization of environments is essential. This makes multiple environments accessible and available on-demand and removes bottlenecks during continuous testing.
The power of continuous testing is its focus on quality, while rapidly testing product ideas with users. The need for rapid software delivery and automation grows as technology evolves. Modularization of banking applications and enterprise architecture is underway wherein monolithic applications are broken into microservices for DevOps and Continuous Delivery. The next wave of automation testing brings forth the implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning tools. The evolution of modern applications, like wearables and smartphones, implies the need to test performance, APIs, and user interfaces across various operating systems and devices – swiftly and accurately. As banking institutions strive to meet demands for speed, flexibility, and transparency, continuous testing would help interconnect and secure the complex banking application landscape.
This article has been published in CPI Financial