Neurodiverse Solutions

Streamlined testing solutions for Northern Trust's IT analytics

How CAI Neurodiverse Solutions brought improved reporting and data visibility to a financial services company.

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Financial services for over a century

Northern Trust ↗ is a leading provider of wealth management, asset servicing, asset management, and banking to institutions and individuals, with more than $1 trillion in assets under management and more than $14 trillion in assets under custody/administration. The company has an unwavering belief that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are vital to the success of its global business.

Northern Trust's commitment to fostering a globally diverse and inclusive workforce led to a working engagement with CAI Neurodiverse Solutions to help solve several business problems by employing neurodivergent individuals in its Information Technology (IT) unit.

A lack of synchronous reporting

A technology analytics team at Northern Trust saw a win-win quality assurance opportunity to improve its analytics platform and business intelligence (BI) reports, which are crucial for the leadership to make real-time decisions about day-to-day IT operations. The reports include varied data related to IT service management (ITSM), capital/expense financials, and human capital management. The analytics platform, serving as a data warehouse with code, transforms the raw data into a normalized data structure in accordance with Northern Trust’s various business rules and processes.

Without a mature testing framework and dedicated testing resources, inconsistent reporting could cause a domino effect of issues, which could result in stale and inaccurate data sets. If this occurred, developers would need to halt ongoing new product development to troubleshoot the reports and the resulting inaccuracy in the data warehouse.

Streamlined, standardized testing solutions

A CAI Neurodiverse Solutions team was brought on board to strengthen standardized testing practices and, subsequently, test automation. The team began with 3 Quality Assurance Analysts (Testers) and 1 CAI Team Lead, and it has since grown to 4 QA Analysts/Testers, 5 Software Developers, and 2 CAI Team Leads.

The team first started building automated test queries for a Microsoft Power BI reporting visual. Through the collaborative training between CAI Neurodiverse Solutions and Northern Trust, the team expanded its capabilities to include a broader operational data set, providing automation coverage across multiple Power BI reports. The team’s scope of work expanded into building Python utilities supporting other data-related business needs, as well as supporting the group's journey into the continued development of BI reports.

The CAI Neurodiverse Solutions team built an automated testing framework to support Northern Trust's goal of continuous integration/continuous development (CI/CD). CI/CD is a fully integrated software development environment where intake, development, testing, deployment, and post-release maintenance work together in a continuous loop. This team created the ability for the automated tests to be triggered upon a detected change in the analytics platform’s stored dataset and implemented an automated retry logic which reloaded data in the platform in the event of test failure. The automated test results were logged—minimizing missing records and missed updates to existing records in the analytics platform. This is key because all the BI reports/dashboards use the analytics tool as their authoritative source for data.

Dialed into data and business intelligence

The CAI Neurodiverse Solutions team introduced daily testing coverage to the analytics platform and built a testing automation framework that validates more than 75% of the base extracted tables daily. The team documented more than 30 feature files with 200+ test scenarios.

This framework also retriggers the data extraction process upon initial test failure and then revalidates the tables, saving manual investigation on each failure. The CAI Neurodiverse Solutions team built another automated testing framework, which will validate 45+ production BI reports used by key stakeholders. This automation will save the client 20-30 hours of weekly manual validation.

As a result of automated testing coverage on the base tables, the CAI Neurodiverse Solutions team was able to successfully implement a daily reporting checklist process which has alerted the group's leadership of when reports are operable to provide more testing coverage in the technology stack. The daily process solves past issues caused by disparate reporting and stale data and ensures the reliability of the data warehouse's data integrity.

"Using the CAI Neurodiverse Solutions team approach, our neurodivergent associates provide value and work with complex and challenging technology. For us, they are using Python to integrate the ITSM platform with Power BI and have created an automated test framework that confirms the status of each of our reports every morning or on-demand.”

Matthew Daye
Product Manager of IT Metrics & Analytics, Northern Trust

Based on its success with quality assurance testing, Northern Trust has extended its engagement with CAI Neurodiverse Solutions and expanded the mandate to include developers as well as testers.

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