How Allianz France achieved a fast-paced Agile development lifecycle with Xray and YEST

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About the company

With operations in 70 countries, Allianz is a world leading insurance company and the preferred insurance brand. The company offers a large range of insurance policies for both corporates and individuals. Allianz has been present in France since the late 1950s and made a major acquisition there in 1998 with the purchase of the AGF company.

5 years ago, Allianz France decided to reorganize its IT to scale agile practices. A squad-based organization was adopted where a squad is in charge of a module of an application and includes all the roles (BA, PO, Developers, Testers) and an implementation team was created to identify the methods and tools required to support this transformation.

This team decided to deploy Jira and, on the testing front, to migrate the test management from HP ALM to Xray. 


The challenges

Lack of Collaboration

With teams working all across the globe, collaboration was challenging since testing was siloed to HP ALM, a separate tool. More had to be done to address the challenge of an effective agile collaboration within the squads; all the more since Allianz, like most large companies, uses (offshored) contractors, particularly for the testing activities. 

The implementation team therefore decided to scan the market in search for a solution able to encourage and support  true collaboration between squad members working in different time zones.


Test automation tests redesigned from scratch

The solution should also solve Allianz’s challenge in test automation. Quite often, test automation teams were separated from the product teams and automated tests were therefore redesigned from scratch, regardless of the existing manual test cases. Beyond the waste of time and effort, this also increased the risk of automated tests being less business relevant because test automation teams did not have the same high level of functional knowledge.


The solution 

With the squad-based organization, it was imperative that QA and Testing activities be totally integrated into the squads. That was a big challenge because testing had been a separate activity for so many years in Allianz, so getting development and testing to work together in the squad was a major cultural change. 

As Allianz had chosen Jira for project management, the logical choice to ensure that QA/testing is not cast away was to select a test management tool inside Jira. They studied the market offering for test management tools in Jira and selected Xray mainly for its user-friendliness.

With Xray, team members from Squads (developers, BAs, PO, Scrum Master, testers...) could gather during their meetings and planning sessions and work together on the same platform: Jira.

The reason why Allianz then selected YEST is because they wanted to go a step further in the collaborative work inside the squad.

This quest for a solution to address the two challenges of collaboration and test automation led the team to Model-Based Testing. After a thorough selection process, Allianz adopted the solution YEST developed by SMARTESTING.


The results 

“Very quickly, we understood that model-based testing with YEST was going to pull us up, that it was actually going to help us get people of different profiles and roles to cooperate fairly upstream and that it would ennoble the tester’s job.” 

J.J. Richard, Allianz Informatique France


SMARTESTING was created by experts in Model-Based Testing (MBT) with more than 20 years of experience in this technology. MBT is a method of software testing that uses models (usually graphical) to drive the production of or automatically generate tests. With YEST, SMARTESTING has rejuvenated the MBT approach to make it easy-to-adopt and particularly effective for agile teams.


Visual representations of testing needs shared in Jira and Xray

With YEST, the agile team collaboratively clarifies the new or modified user stories including the related testing aspects in the beginning of the sprint based on the visual representations of the workflows.

To take the specific case of Allianz as an example, graphical workflows are used to describe entire features, showing the flow of the related user stories. Information regarding acceptance criteria is stored in tables linked to the workflow actions. YEST then automatically generates test scenarios which serve as specification by example.

These visual representations overcome the differences in expertise, in experience, in language or culture etc. of the team members: a good picture is worth a thousand words. Business people, developers, testers, managers, all roles can quickly and precisely understand a graphical workflow as the one below.


Figure 1: Example of a YEST flow chart with sub-flows


Being the basis of collaboration on the testing needs, the YEST graphical workflows must be available to all the team members. YEST provides the ability to draw the workflows from Jira, so they can be easily shared with the team.


Accelerated test production

YEST provides a local IDE that facilitates the modeling and generation of the test. In addition, it synchronizes with Jira.

This accelerates the test production with automatic test generation, auto-completion and refactoring functions such as automatic change impact analysis, automatic propagation of changes, etc. All elements of a YEST project along the course of the project are managed in Git.


Figure 2: YEST' GUI - a test scenario in textual and graphical format


Benefits of the integration of YEST and Xray

Smooth integration with Xray

The produced tests are automatically published into Xray, strictly respecting the organized structure defined in Xray and ensuring the traceability links with the user stories and epics. Once the execution results are available, it is possible to visualize the executed test scenario on the workflow directly in Jira and graphically spot the step that failed. Existing test cases may be imported into YEST and are used to facilitate reverse-engineering of graphical workflows. 

A very powerful function of the YEST and Xray integration that is particularly appreciated by Allianz is the traceability links. When the tester establishes a link to a User Story on a branch of the flowchart, any generated Test going through this branch will automatically be linked to the User Story: no need to manually create the links in Jira. 


Figure 3: YEST' Workflow Coverage in Xray


A test automation enabler

YEST implements Keyword-Driven Test Automation to clearly distinguish the functional aspect of test automation from the technical one. YEST offers a collaboration platform between functional (manual) testers and test automation engineers, the former bringing his functional knowledge, the latter his technical expertise. After some time, the functional tester becomes familiar with the keywords and can perform certain script maintenance work autonomously. 


”For a long time, we had two separate worlds, manual tests on one side, and automatic tests on the other; and the automated tests were developed several cycles later − which is normal− starting all over again from scratch, from the functional analysis; and that is not acceptable. But if the YEST tool has a key virtue on this subject, it is that it supports a chained transition from manual to automatic tests in a fluid manner without going backwards.”

J.J. Richard, Allianz Informatique France




Figure 4: Keywords and scripts generated with Yest



For Allianz France, the tool chain made of YEST and Xray has clearly addressed their 3 main challenges:


  • Visual representations to express the testing of entire features in a universal language accessible to everybody.
  • These visual representations are available and editable in Jira (YEST for Jira)
  • The YEST project in managed in Git for collaborative production
  • Graphical living documentation

Accelerated development cycles

  • IDE-type functions (automatic test generation, autocompletion, refactoring, automatic impact analysis, automatic propagation of changes, etc.)
  • Seamless integration with Xray including automated generation of Xray test cases and visualization of Xray test results
  • About 40% productivity gains on test design and test maintenance

Test automation

  • Collaboration between functional testers and test automation engineers: no rework, no loss of functional knowledge.
  • Effective support of Keyword-Driven Test automation
  • Integration with their preferred automation tool UFT (but also with Selenium, Robot Framework, Ranorex, Cucumber, Tosca, and many others)


Returns - some measured savings

As an example, the A.M Project where 26 out of 35 User Stories have been modeled in YEST, 68 test scenarios were generated, with, for part of them, UFT script generation. Allianz has estimated the savings on test design effort (in p/d) at 33%.


Achieving effective Agile collaboration between teams with Xray and YEST

Choosing Xray enabled Allianz France to support the agile transformation of its IT. With Xray, testing activities and challenges were placed in the center of the collaborative work of the squad. Testers can work on the requirements and develop their tests in the same environment and can easily share their production with the other members of the squad.

YEST added a complementary layer with graphical representations to further boost collaboration, give more context to the user stories, facilitate test design and provide persistent documentation. YEST also enables Allianz to reconnect test automation and put it back into the scope of the squad QA activities.

Want to see how to get the best out of Xray by combining it with YEST?

The Smartesting team hosted a webinar called “Maximize the agile effect of Xray”.

Watch the recording and learn how to improve collaboration between team members and boost your Agile testing practices with Xray and YEST.

Watch now

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