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Management Strategies

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Judy Ward
Judy Ward
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AFCU Slashes Software Testing Cycle With Compuware’s TestPartner

AFCU cuts the software testing cycle in half with Compuware's TestPartner tool.

It used to take Arizona Federal Credit Union (AFCU) nearly two months to test the software updates that it gets every quarter from its core customer-service software provider, a unit of Brookfield, Wis.-based Fiserv, according to Kevin Bingham, an AFCU VP. As "application owners," each department in the Phoenix-based credit union was responsible for testing the part of the software release that related to that department, he explains. It took about two months for all of the departments to finish, Bingham reports, adding, "When they had to spend time on testing, that would take team members off the front line."

AFCU (more than $1.9 billion in assets) began searching for a solution to streamline the process in June 2007. Bingham had worked with automated software testing earlier in his career, so he already was familiar with the available products, he says, noting that the credit union initially considered software from HP (Palo Alto, Calif.) and Detroit-based Compuware.

According to Bingham, not only did Compuware's TestPartner automated-testing tool have a better price point, it also featured more user-friendly functionality. For example, he relates, TestPartner leverages a storyboarding-based visual approach to testing, which lets staffers view screenshots throughout the testing process; if a problem surfaces, they can more easily go back and pinpoint the steps leading up to that error.

AFCU worked with Compuware to run a test simulation on the three types of applications common at the credit union: mainframe-based, Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) Windows-based and Web-based software. Compuware installed the software on-site, configured it and ran the tests, Bingham says.

Bingham relates that the TestPartner application runs in a virtual environment. "Multiple virtual environments can be installed on one physical server," he explains. "Our test-automation environment is installed in one of those virtual environments." AFCU runs version 3.5 of Palo Alto-based VMware's virtualization software on an HP ProLiant BL25p server, Bingham adds.

The credit union decided in July 2007 to purchase TestPartner. Since the software already had been installed for the simulations, implementation focused on refining the testing methodology and reconfiguring the scripts so that they could be reused, Bingham relates. AFCU did most of that work itself, with advice from Compuware, he says. Compuware also provided five days of hands-on training for an AFCU test analyst and two other credit union IT staffers.

Just one month after signing the deal, AFCU began a phased rollout of the automated-testing tool, starting with the branch services department, the area that could least afford to devote staff time to software testing, according to Bingham. Though the branch services phase still was ongoing at press time, AFCU already has seen the power of the TestPartner solution, Bingham comments, pointing out that the credit union saw a return on its investment in just five months and already has cut testing time in half, to 25 days.

Noting that the risk management, lending and card services departments are scheduled to be automated this year, Bingham estimates that 15 percent to 20 percent of the enterprisewide rollout is complete. But, he adds, he doesn't want to stop there.

Currently, AFCU's virtual environment can support only one test run at a time, Bingham explains. He says he wants to set up another virtual environment to enable multiple test environments to run simultaneously. "The goal is to get testing down to two weeks," Bingham says.


Institution: Arizona Federal Credit Union (Phoenix).

Assets: More than $1.9 billion.

Business Challenge: Automate testing process for third-party software updates.

Solution: Detroit-based Compuware Corp.'s TestPartner automated software testing tool.

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