Ensuring the quality of Mission-critical banking apps while meeting sprint deadlines

Mission-critical banking applications are those that cannot afford to face downtime. These banking applications must meet the strict sprint deadline because banks prioritize customer trust and retention, regulatory compliance, operational efficiency, business continuity, and more. Mission-critical applications ensure reliability, security, and functionality for banking processes.

They are called mission-critical because these applications are crucial for business operations. The users use these applications regularly. Any probable disruption can harm the banks’ reputation and disrupt operations. Banks can assure their customers that their services are reliable, secure, compliant with industry regulations, and updated with recent trends and technologies. Hence, meeting the sprint deadline is crucial for banks and financial institutions.

The banks’ mission-critical apps

  • Core Banking Systems (CBS) – CBS applications are the mission-critical apps and backbones of banking operations. These systems manage customer accounts, transactions, deposits and withdrawals, and financial records. If the CBS application fails, it may lead to significant financial losses and harm the customer’s reputation.
  • Payment Systems – Payment applications of financial companies handle multiple payment processes like electronic fund transfers, wire transfers, Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions, and card payments. Payment applications ensure the accuracy and security of payment transactions to protect against fraud and financial errors.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – CRM applications handle customer information, interaction and personalized services. CRM applications help in retaining customers and attracting more customers, which is essential to maintain a strong customer relationship.

Is maintaining the quality of Mission-critical banking apps is complicated?

Mission-critical applications are sensitive to banking operations. It promptly addresses user requests and must always be up and running. Banks must keep in mind the following areas where they could go wrong and bring their entire focus on ensuring and maintaining the quality of the mission-critical apps. Maintaining the quality of the applications is complicated because of the following factors.

  • Compliance and Regulatory Reporting – Banks and financial institutions must strictly monitor the update and remain compliant with changes in regulatory compliance, such as Know Your Customers (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), and Data Protection Laws. Any violation can result in severe penalties. Banking applications are mission-critical and responsible for collecting, storing, and reporting data to regulatory authorities, ensuring that the bank complies with laws and regulations.
  • Fraud Detection and Security – Banking applications handle critical customer data, including personal and financial information and track transactions for potential fraud. Therefore, it is essential to ensure data security. Any violation can lead to significant financial and reputational damages. Frequent security assessments, patch management, and constant vigilance are essential. Regulatory institutions use various algorithms and security measures to detect unusual patterns or suspicious activities to protect the bank and its customers.
  • Risk Management – Banks’ mission-critical applications include risk assessment and management tools, helping banks evaluate the risk associated with lending and investment decisions. Effective risk management is crucial for the stability and profitability of financial institutions.
  • Business continuity – Banks must maintain continuous operations under all conditions. Mission-critical applications are designed to have redundancy and failover mechanisms to ensure uninterrupted service.
  • Scalability – Mission-critical banking applications must be scalable to accommodate increased transaction volumes, new product offerings and changing customer requirements. It ensures that the banks grow and evolve. Banks serve a vast customer base, and their applications must scale to accommodate varying loads, from day-to-day banking operations to peaks during promotions or events. Scalability testing and capacity planning are critical.
  • Data Integrity and Backup – Banking applications must ensure the integrity of customer data and have robust backup and disaster recovery mechanisms in place to protect against data loss.
  • Customer Experience – Mission-critical applications contribute to the overall customer experience by providing online and mobile banking services, making it convenient for customers to access their accounts, handle transactions, and obtain information. Customers expect a seamless and user-friendly experience when using banking apps. It requires continuous improvement of user interface, mobile compatibility, and responsiveness. Frequent updates are necessary to meet evolving customer expectations.
  • Testing Challenges: Comprehensive testing of banking apps is challenging due to the diversity of devices, operating systems, and network conditions that customers use. Ensuring compatibility across various platforms and browsers is time-consuming and resource-intensive.
  • Budget Constraints: Balancing the need for continuous improvement with budget constraints can be a significant challenge. Banks must allocate resources for development, security, compliance, and maintenance while remaining profitable.

Mission-critical banking applications can control the core functions of financial institutions,  ensuring the security, reliability, and efficiency of banking operations. Any failure or disruption in these applications can impact financial, regulatory, and reputational consequences for the bank. Hence, meeting the sprint deadline while maintaining the application quality is a complex step and a continuous effort.

What are the necessary steps to strike a balance between maintaining the quality of mission-critical banking apps while meeting sprint deadlines?

It is crucial to maintain a balance between speed and quality and banks face massive challenge to manage it in equilibrium. Ensuring the quality of mission-critical banking apps while meeting sprint deadlines are extremely crucial. Hence, the team must carefully plan, coordinate and use right strategies and practices. Here are some strategies to help you achieve this balance:

  • Prioritizing requirements: The first step is to identify, define, and prioritize the mission-critical banking app features and functionalities. All features may not be equally critical. Hence, it is essential to focus on the core application functionalities and ensure that features work well. 
  • Reporting early: The project team (developers, testers and stakeholders) must thoroughly communicate the identified early errors and prevent them from becoming serious problems. It helps in meeting the sprint deadline. The team must encourage healthy feedback from the stakeholders, developers and testers to help the team identify issues and improve the process flow. The team must collect feedback after each sprint session as it provides insights like what worked well in early sprints and what must be improved. It enhances the development process.
  • Executing UAT:  Executing UAT is essential, as in this process, the project team can include end users to collect their feedback and experience to ensure that the application functions as per their expectations.  
  • Segmenting tasks or Adhering to Agile methodologies: Testing the mission-critical applications can be a long process. Hence, breaking them down into smaller segments helps manage the process. It is easy to assign resources, maintain project costs, and track the project progression, ultimately leading to meeting sprint deadlines. It is easier to manage the sprint and improve the features of mission-critical applications in segments. Adhering to agile methodologies such as Scrum or Kanban is a strategic step.
  • Planning sprint: Requirement analysis is one of the main criteria before planning the sprint. It helps define the sprint scope and involves all stakeholders, like developers, QA testers, designers, and product owners.
  • Automating test: Mission-critical applications undergo feature improvement frequently. It increases the regression work over the actual feature built. Regression can harm the application flow if the team does not validate it early. Hence, test automation comes into the picture to ensure that the critical functionalities work as expected. Automation testing reduces the manual testing load, helps detect the issues early and improves quality consistently.
  • Implementing CI/CD: Implementation of CI/CD is essential for frequently changing codes. By implementing CI/CD pipelines to automate the build, testing, and deployment processes, the team can test and deploy the frequently changing codes while maintaining the quality.
  • Reviewing codes: One such essential step is reviewing codes and highlighting issues. Evaluating the code quality can also lead to improving and maintaining the code quality. Through code reviews, the team can share knowledge among themselves.
  • Executing Unit Testing: Executing Unit Testing in the early development process is a strategic way to identify issues at the initial phase to ensure that specific elements and components of mission critical application work as expected with minimal rework to meet the sprint deadline.
  • Executing Load Testing: Perform load testing to ensure the app can handle the expected user load without performance degradation or crashes. Identify bottlenecks and optimize performance accordingly.
  • Executing Security Testing: Maintaining the security of mission-critical applications is paramount for banks. Conducting security and penetration testing regularly identifies and addresses malicious activities. It may not affect the sprint deadline, but it saves a lot of rework time at a later stage if or when any malicious activity is detected. 
  • Prototyping and Usability Testing: Creating prototypes at the design phase and conducting usability testing to validate user interfaces and workflows and ensure that the app is intuitive and user-friendly, respectively, is a strategic approach to meet the sprint deadline while identifying the flaws in mission-critical applications.
  • Executing Performance Testing: Mission-critical applications undergo peak usage time. Identifying and addressing performance bottlenecks becomes essential to meet the sprint deadlines. The performance of these applications is tested under extreme load conditions to ensure that the heavy load condition does not impact the application performance.
  • Identifying and prioritizing Risk Management: If the team fails to identify and prioritize risks at the early project timeline, it can impact the project quality. The team must strategically develop a mitigation plan to handle the potential risk arising during development phase.
  • Documenting process flow: The project might have interchangeable team members. Process flow documentation can save training and orientation time for new team members. It helps the team in knowledge transfer. The new team member can adapt to the changes in the project without any hassles. It helps in fast onboarding of new team members.

Balancing quality and sprint deadlines is a continuous effort. It requires proper strategy, effective team collaboration, and a willingness to adapt and improve based on feedback and experiences from previous sprints. The goal is to improve the applications’ quality while delivering value to the customer within the strict deadline.

Our views on ensuring the quality of Mission-critical banking apps while meeting sprint deadlines

Here are some findings from our understanding of projects

From the project we have undertaken so far, here are some observations:

We have noticed that banks face a continuous tug of war between the need to go live within strict deadlines while maintaining project quality. Faced with less transition time, banks face many challenges, like keeping up with project requirements and delivering quality products to customers.

Banks use applications with visible and critical features. But some features are less used and yet are extremely critical. Even though they are used less frequently, it might impact the application functionalities. The issue here is, while executing testing, teams might discover it later and may not include it in the project scope.

The line of products the banks use can be a combination of different applications. For example, the application used for CBS transformation may differ for Payment systems. The application used for payment systems may vary with CRM platforms. It is a challenge managing multiple applications while maintaining the quality and speed of the project go-live so that the customers get maximum value at a lesser effort and cost. Even the same application might have different product segments.

While running the sprint, the project team might face additional defects that might be excluded from the project scope. If the sprint is planned without calculating buffer time or due to unforeseen incidents, the project does not meet the sprint deadline, which might harm the project outcome. The banks might be entitled to bear the consequences, such as financial, regulatory, and reputational loss.

Not all resources are up to date with the changes in the application version. The application version changes continuously, bringing in a new set of updated features. Learning from scratch and implementing it in the project takes time. Lack of expertise and knowledge can often lead to project delay.

Project team often have to implement critical changes in the functionalities and handle complex integration within stringent project deadline. They also have to undergo multiple phases in testing impacting the earlier tested features. Also, ever-changing requirements impact quality of the deliverables. The team also have less time to address the raised defects.

Due to these common factors team might fail to meet the sprint deadlines further delaying the project deadline.

Yethi offers managed testing services. From requirement analysis, test design, and planning to test execution and reporting, Yethi has delivered over 500 projects with desired outcomes across 30+ countries. We offer patch fixes, enhancements, and ad hoc fixes for periodic regression runs. We have conducted end-to-end functional, performance, and security testing. We analyze the regression impact and map and execute the impacted regression test cases. We also retest and report defect logging and tracking and maintain the regression pack with enhancements. We manage test cases for patch fixes and enhancements to the regression pack.

We offer process-driven and risk-based testing. We understand your business processes and build test cases based on the used case scenario. We exercise a strategic approach and select test scenarios based on importance to customers and security, financial impact, complexity of business logic, and integration points. To ensure maximum quality at different test stages, we do a thorough requirement analysis, plan and design test scenarios, and build and execute test cases.

Our robotic codeless test automation solution, Tenjin, comes with loads of features and is easy to integrate with mission-critical applications for banks. Its robotic UI discovery engine can learn and relearn the application UI changes quickly and report defects quickly. It saves over 80% of testing time, accelerating the product launch. Its point-and-click feature intuitively identifies the specific changes, which saves significant testing time. Tenjin is a banking-specific codeless test automation platform that is easy to integrate with banking applications. It reads MT/MX Swift messages with ease and detects and reports defects promptly, saving time and effort in sprints.