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People sitting around a table

Some time ago, my colleague Sandra Weis vividly explained in her blog post what a community of practice (abbreviated as CoP below) is all about. The CoP concept has been firmly established at adesso for some time now, and the range of CoPs is constantly being expanded to include additional subject areas. Together with other testing experts, prominently from the insurance sector, I founded the Testing@Insurance CoP last summer.

Membership structure

The membership structure of the Testing@Insurance CoP is just as varied as the adesso world.

It is a forum where adessi with different project tasks – such as software engineering, test management or project management – gather. The professional experience of the members ranges from trainee to ‘grey eminence’, and the backgrounds are also highly diverse.

What they all have in common is their interest in sharing software testing knowledge.

Why @Insurance?

The legitimate question arises as to why the CoP limits itself to insurance in addition to broader topics relating to testing. The reason for this is that the requirements for test design, infrastructure and data have industry-specific characteristics. For example, the test infrastructure at insurance companies is often very complex due to the large number of different, distributed inventory systems and interfaces used. In addition, old contracts and multi-layered tariffs call for very specific test data and test case constellations. Whenever the need arises to obtaining test data by anonymising real data, particularly strict regulations apply to protect personal data. Domain knowledge is also helpful and often even necessary for test management, test case design and test execution. By focusing the CoP on the insurance sector, we strive to satisfy the previously mentioned points and want to be able to process customer enquiries from the insurance environment faster and more efficiently.

Goals of the Testing@Insurance CoP

At the beginning of every journey, you should be clear on where you want to go! The Testing@Insurance CoP aims to:

  • collect, bundle, process and share the existing knowledge on testing and the specifics of the insurance environment;
  • be the first point of contact for new employees in the testing environment;
  • enable (professional) exchange among adessi;
  • act as contact persons for questions regarding the testing portfolio at adesso beyond the CoP;
  • learn from experience and enrich our store of knowledge with the lessons learned;
  • raise awareness of the CoP within adesso and attract new members;
  • grow as individuals and as a community of practice.

Organisation

All members of the Testing@Insurance CoP meet virtually at a regular monthly meeting. In addition, small working groups are formed for a specific topic as needed. These groups organise their activities outside of the regular meetings and present their results to all CoP participants after having completed their task. A digital whiteboard serves as a topic repository where members can enter content suggestions for the regular CoP meetings at any time. The next topics to be tackled are decided ‘democratically’ at regular intervals through voting. The knowledge repository is implemented as a wiki, and the current work results are documented there.

How members, companies and customers benefit from the CoP

Besides our customers and adesso as a company, the CoP members themselves are the main beneficiaries of the CoP. The CoP acts as the first point of contact for information about the modules of the adesso testing portfolio. Furthermore, the CoP meetings offer participants a sheltered environment where they can try out new methods. These can include, for example, moderation techniques, presentation styles or creative ideas for using digital whiteboards.

From adesso’s point of view, CoPs can support knowledge management in the company through knowledge transfer and documentation, and their expertise can be leveraged for customer enquiries and when drafting quotations. This allows us to respond to our customers’ enquiries in a quick and targeted manner.

Results and successes to date

We can already look back on some concrete results and exciting discussions in the world of testing. For example, as part of a ‘lessons learned’ session, we looked at what needs to be considered when working with an external offshore test centre. Furthermore, basic contents such as the necessary skillset for project deployment in testing and test management were compiled and documented in our wiki. A collection of the various tools used in software testing and their areas of application is currently being compiled. In the course of this project, we also looked at the open source application ‘Seed-Test’ as a possible solution for automated testing in the context of behaviour-driven development. Details about ‘Seed-Test’ can be found in the blog post [in German] authored by my colleague Daniel Sorna.

Outlook and conclusion

The approach we have been taking as a CoP has worked well so far. In order to better realise our potential, we will review our organisation and processes in the coming months to identify possible areas that require improvement/adaptation and derive relevant measures. The next items on our agenda are the development of knowledge pools for test automation and test data management.

Being a member of a CoP is a great way to contribute to the company and grow personally as well as professionally. Are you an adessi and have become curious about the Testing@Insurance community of practice? It is always possible to ‘sit in’ during a regular CoP meeting to learn about this community first hand – feel free to contact me. The months since the founding of the CoP have flown by, and there are plenty of interesting topics on our agenda.

You will find more exciting topics from the adesso world in our latest blog posts.

Picture Ellen  Volkert

Author Ellen Volkert

Ellen Volkert is a business analyst at adesso and co-founder of the community of practice "Testing@Insurance". She has more than ten years of experience in IT consulting in the areas of requirements engineering, test management and IT project management.

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