Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan transforms testing to speed delivery

Company overview

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBS Michigan) is a nonprofit mutual insurance company founded in 1939. BCBS Michigan designs, sells, and manages health benefit plans for individuals, families, and Michigan-based employers. It is the largest health insurer in Michigan, serving 3.9 million people in the state and 1.3 million more in other states.

BCBS Michigan’s mission is to be a trusted partner to its members by providing affordable, innovative products that improve their care and health. BCBS Michigan’s enterprise IT team strives to improve the speed of delivery to match business needs by creating better products to keep up with market trends and deliver a best-in-class member experience.

Tearing down testing roadblocks

Prior to evaluating Tricentis, most of BCBS Michigan’s testing was manual. As the organization moved towards Agile practices and methods like behavior driven development, IT leaders recognized a need for automated testing that would ensure faster testing, improved coverage, and embedding quality into the development process, starting at the requirements stage.

BCBS Michigan was also embarking on a major legacy app modernization project that involved refactoring a set of mainframe applications in a cloud environment. The IT team is responsible for ensuring the quality of these applications, which support the organization’s most critical business processes – from its CRM systems to its databases and business process management tools.

To ensure testing could scale to meet the needs of a modernized IT environment, Sharada Thota, Senior Manager of the BCBS Michigan Testing Center of Excellence, partnered with BCBS Michigan’s Agile and DevOps CoEs.

“We needed to catch up with the speed of our development teams for our initiatives for DevOps, Scaled Agile (SAFe), legacy modernization, and shifting left,” Thota says. “We were at a point where testing could not be a roadblock. Continuous and regression testing became a huge priority as we migrated our legacy applications. We needed to ensure that all the internal and external integration points still worked and there were no security and performance issues.”

Maturing testing capabilities with Tricentis Tosca and qTest

BCBS Michigan needed to implement automated testing to improve their speed of delivery and keep up with the pace of development.

According to Vaniprasad Jagana, TCoE Automation Manager, BCBS Michigan, the organization evaluated various tools against its goals and capabilities. The testing team asked two of its manual testers to train and use both SmartBear and Tricentis Tosca to understand how easy they were to learn and begin automating. Tosca was the better fit, and BCBS Michigan adopted Tosca as its primary test automation tool, with the goal of implementing continuous and regression testing.

The team also adopted Tricentis qTest for test management and its ability to provide real-time, two-way visibility at the defect and requirements level in Jira.

qTest has also helped the team standardize testing and prioritize BCBS Michigan’s strategies, adoption, implementation, and rollout of test automation across the organization.

“We followed an iterative approach where we slowly started rolling out to different platforms and applications, and we also focused on strengthening our governance to improve our quality practices and standards in parallel,” Thota says.

Today, BCBS Michigan has trained more than 200 manual testers as automation engineers with Tosca’s codeless, model-based approach.

Thota has observed increased job satisfaction across the testing team as their skill sets and productivity have improved. “A big win was having the testing tools product owner who was responsible for implementation rollout, Vaniprasad Jagana, driving the change across multiple testing teams,” said Thota.

In one year, the team built 13,500 automated test cases – all by manual testers with no prior automation knowledge.

Improving developer-tester collaboration

With the help of qTest offering improved visibility to stakeholders across the delivery pipeline, BCBS Michigan’s testing team has built a great partnership with development. The two teams are now partnering to integrate their approach to unit test automation into the overall test strategy. For apps where testers have achieved 100% automated regression test cases, the team is partnering with developers to enable in-sprint, shift-left automation for all required testing.

“Tricentis qTest has played a critical role in building the testing team’s relationship with developers because the qTest instance is integrated with Jira and Tosca,” Jagana says. BCBS Michigan is using qTest to orchestrate automation executions and to understand results against user stories and requirements in Jira – so developers always stay up to date from within Jira.

In the future, BCBS Michigan plans to integrate its Selenium scripts, which are run via a Jenkins pipeline, into qTest for centralized management and orchestration across test automation tools.

Maturing test automation to improve delivery speed

BCBS Michigan has scaled test automation for 21 apps – across mainframe, XML, web, Java-based, desktop applications, EDI transactions, Salesforce, and more. The team plans to add another six or seven apps to that list this year and has a longer-term plan to automate testing for 38 total applications.

“We’ve automated 40% of our regression test grid so far, and we have seen a consistent reduction in testing cost with respect to the overall project delivery costs,” said Thota. “We have seen a reduction in the time to test, and there were clear results seen in the test case reuse. We’ve significantly improved our test automation coverage of various platforms.”

In the next 12 months, BCBS Michigan plans to expand its regression test automation coverage from 40% to 70% and roll out in-sprint automation. They also plan to continue integrating testing with the CI/CD pipeline and to implement automated data testing with Tricentis Data Integrity.