Direct Line Group are serious about digital transformation, and they're investing in a tech stack that makes true innovation every day. Alongside the great technology their team are working on, they're also advancing QA processes in the financial industry with people just like Tharini, Engineering Chapter Test Lead at Direct Line Group.
In a short amount of time, she's saved considerable cost around QA by implementing alternative effective operating plans and commenced implementing consistent QA processes and standards. We’ll be diving deep into how she integrates QA activities with other departments, the testing tools she uses, and how she's taken them to the next level.
We'll also be exploring how Direct Line Group prioritises work-life balance and employee well-being. Spoiler alert: they actually live up to their promises. Let’s dive in!
Hi Tharini, tells us about your journey in tech so far?
At 11 years old, I got my first computer from my dad and my mind was blown. I dove into the depths of Computer Science, teaching my brothers, cousins, and anyone else who would listen. Fast forward a few years and I graduated with a degree in Computer Science and Software Engineering, as well as a Masters in Engineering Management and Business Administration.
Through all of my education, I took away plenty of technical skills. Coupled with my personality as a take-charge kind of person who enjoys monitoring progress and delegating, I knew QA would be for me. I started as a Testing and Automation Specialist, but quickly worked my way up to Head of QA with a team of test managers and engineers.
Then life took a turn and my previous company went under. But that's when Direct Line Group swooped in, offering me a position that suited my skillset. Their family-like values and support make me feel right at home, and I'm proud to be a part of their team.
What has been the highlight of your time at Direct Line Group so far, and what changes have you implemented in your role?
In just a few months since I joined in April 2023, I have accomplished more than I expected. I hit the ground running and made significant changes that improved our processes and saved us money.
For example,I identified a gap in the Home, Pet, and Travel area where we could replace contractors with in-house resources and implemented an apprenticeship program within Pet to strengthen the team while fostering someone else's growth. And, to address some feedback concerns across Direct Line Group, I created a confluence page and to help others understand the importance of feedback, its benefits and how to receive feedback.
The best part? Direct Line Group welcomes new ideas and thoughts, so if you've got a compelling proposal, it will be heard. I've been given opportunities to work outside of my initial area and have been able to contribute my expertise to a variety of projects. I'm feeling pretty grateful for the support and freedom to express myself that I have found here, and I'm proud to say that I've made a significant impact in just a short amount of time.
How do you ensure that QA activities are integrated effectively with other departments such as software development and engineering?
Quality control is serious business, especially in the financial industry where it can impact people's hard-earned money. At Direct Line Group, we take quality seriously and are working on establishing a consistent QA process and standards across all of our products.
We want to make sure that our code is high-quality and adheres to our standards for good code and best practices. Our quality control process aims to initiate from the early stages, such as requirement gathering. Day by day, our requirement gathering approach is improving so that we have clear and detailed requirements captured, enabling the team to have a clear view of the product's needs.
Our CI/CD pipeline is also getting a makeover, and we're encouraging more frequent builds and deployments. We're not just about meeting delivery dates, but delivering a quality product on that date. And if there's a quality impact, we stop and do a practical assessment before proceeding. We're all about continuous improvement and keeping everyone, even the non-technical people, on the same page when it comes to quality. Quality control is always at the forefront of what we do at Direct Line Group.
What testing tools have you worked within your role at Direct Line Group, and how have you improved their effectiveness?
My team uses Selenium with Serenity Screenplay, along with a Behaviour-Driven Development (BDD) framework. We are currently in the process of expanding our use of BDD and have planned to provide training to ensure all engineers in our organisation have a professional understanding of its importance. We are also working on training plans to help non-technical team members understand the significance of BDD.
For CI/CD, AWS S3 is used for storing the test results and logs, and SonarCloud for code analysis. We use JIRA for defects and tracking stories, and Confluence as a documentation space for process and standards. We also use BrowserStack for cross-device and cross-browser testing.
How does Direct Line Group prioritise work-life balance and employee well-being, and what impact has this had on your experience working there?
Direct Line Group doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to work-life balance and employee well-being, but we walk the walk too. As someone who's worked with plenty of companies with more talk than action on this front, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Direct Line Group is different.
Their remote working policy is the real deal – you don’t have to show up in the office random days to fill up the space or non-key meetings. Even if it is a key meeting and you are not able to make it in person you will be welcomed to communicate this to the respective managers and join the meeting virtually with no worry of retaliation.
Their remote working policy is like “hey, we trust you to manage your schedule and do what you need to do to keep your work life and personal life in balance”, and they really get that life happens. Need to make a hospital appointment? No problem – take dynamic hours and make up for the lost hours later. They don’t make you choose between your health and your paycheck. Personally, this trust and nature of caring for employees keeps me happy and motivates me to work more than the contracted work hours to get any work completed rather doing a clock watching job to just achieve the contracted work hours.
Direct Line Group also knows that work shouldn't suck the life out of you. They set realistic targets and don't expect you to sacrifice your well-being to meet them. And if the targets become unachievable, they're all about finding a solution that works for everyone. They also want to help you grow, so they offer a variety of training courses and encourage you to pursue what interests you. Plus, they will also support you in establishing a roadmap to help your skills and career growth.
Overall, Direct Line Group's focus on keeping their employees happy and healthy has made a huge difference in my experience working here. I feel valued and motivated - like I'm part of something special.
If you’d like to join the team at Direct Line Group, then create a profile on the hackajob platform, where they’re currently hiring for a variety of roles or log in to your profile here. You can also keep updated with them on LinkedIn and check out their hackajob profile.