Our high project workload of 40,000 man days this year means that we need maximum efficiency, but without compromise. TestBench has helped IT reduce time-to-market on key projects. Because we get a high degree of re-use, we are able to make the quality standards ever tighter, so we are constantly
driving down risk. Furthermore, the automated documentation is a real timesaver in our heavily regulated environment."
Head of IT Development
Original Software offered a solution with the power and flexibility of Original Software's TestBench Suite to allow them to stay ahead of the game.
Market Driven Business
Skandia constantly challenge what the market has to offer, believing that their customers should have the freedom to choose financial products tailored to their individual needs and be able to adapt as these needs change.
Their products are underpinned by the MultiManager approach which they pioneered over 20 years ago, offering a range of leading exteral fund managers. While this approach is limited by their competitors, their expertise and commitment has ensured Skandia's reputation as the leaders in MultiManager investment.
First Year Savings
Savings have been made in the number of man hours needed on each project, allowing the same resource to do more. Regression testing is now carried out with a 90% saving in manpower.
During the first project, elapsed time was reduced by 25% using checkpoint and rollback data protection. This provided fast and easy control of the state of test environments and reduced the reliance on other areas of the IT Team. Since then the gains have increased. Projects that previously were scheduled to take months to be completed are now scheduled to be completed in weeks.
Developers can now clearly see errors in the right context to better understand their impact and causes. This visibility and understanding makes repairing them much easier and faster. With the faster and easier identification of errors, and the understanding this has created, the quality of the end solution has improved.
Skandia has recently announced its titular sponsorship of the GBR Sailing Team preparing for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing
Skandia Team GBR 2008.
Skandia's IT team also supports a whole range of real time quotation systems, integrated investment management tools, point-of-sale and web based data capture/display applications that are used by the largest on-line IFA (Independent Financial Advisor) community in the world. Many of these systems have to be available 24/7, with huge amounts of fund data being transferred on a daily basis.
All of these applications are developed and maintained in Southampton, which is the main development site for the Nordic and UK Regions. These core business systems are frequently updated by a large team of in-house developers and are constantly being enhanced and re-engineered to meet Skandia's customers' needs.
A team of marketing professionals who understand the market and what is available from technology, specify products and services and then turn to IT to deliver them. Many of these products start life as an "our customers should be able to ............" wish.
It's the job of Tim Mann (Customer Services and Technology Director) and his team to make these wishes come true. The challenge for Skandia is to deliver the innovative IT support, as well as creating and supporting the products & services that are needed to drive the business forward and maintain its market leading position.
Tim understands where technology can give Skandia the edge and how best to use it to their advantage. High quality in their software and systems is essential to the company's drive to maintain its leadership of the market, a maximum level of up-time is expected on core business critical applications as well as fast and accurate launches of new applications supporting newly released innovative financial products. This demand not only creates an unparalleled development challenge but also a massive Testing challenge as well.
Innovation is at the heart of Skandia's business strategy and sees them launch and offer services continually. They recently launched a wrapped
MultiManager Investment service, which is essentially an Integrated Investment Management Tool that is linked to many hundreds of funds worldwide.
This MultiManager investment tool allows IFAs to go on-line and model projected portfolios - this service has over 55% of British IFAs using it.
Once the projected portfolio is modeled to the IFAs satisfaction, the IFA is able, via mass management of clients, to automatically transfer their clients' portfolios.
The automated wrapped service is linked to the IBM iSeries and makes the life of IFAs much easier and more professional. They are able to deal with
instructions immediately, and as it's all online there is no paperwork to complete and send in, greatly reducing the IFA's administration.
Time For A New Way Of thinking
Skandia started looking at testing tools to help meet four main identified needs:-
- Ensuring that systems were compliant with Financial Industry Regulations.
- Improving the GSTT (Group Systems Testing Team) efficiency & reducing time to market.
- Managing and keeping control of hundreds of test environments.
- Maintaining and improving application quality.
With anything up to 170 test environments being worked upon at any one time, the demands being made upon the GSTT were enormous. Something had to be done. "That's why we started looking at testing tools; the portfolio of developments being worked upon just kept getting bigger.
Initially we expanded the team to help keep pace with demand, but it soon became clear that we needed to try to do something else to help ourselves become more efficient" says Bob Bampton, Manager, GSTT. "We do a lot of repeat work covering similar transactions across a number of different developments. We were beginning to hit more and more issues with testing environments where we had expanded the development base, which led us having to start testing from square one time and time again".
Skandia had been put off by scripting tools that didn't work well on their systems, but perseverance paid off and they found an answer that suited them down to the ground, Original Software's TestBench Suite. As soon as he saw TestBench, Bampton thought to himself "There's much more to this than just a scripting tool, this is a really comprehensive tool with an awful lot of time saving capabilities
The solution was deployed first by the GSTT Team, but subsequently the Development Teams have now seen first hand the improvements in quality
and time savings that are being made with TestBench. As the exchange and sharing of information between the different teams has increased, Development themselves are beginning to see where TestBench can help them, and have now started to build projects which are "designed for testing". The impact of these benefits for both teams, the business and hence customers are manifold.
With an ever increasing demand being placed upon them to support Product Development and reengineering of internal systems, the GSTT Team at Skandia were finding it extremely difficult to keep up. Extra resource was initially supplied to solve the problem but even that could only help so much. It took a solution with the power and flexibility of Original Software's TestBench Suite to allow them to stay ahead of the game.