Finnish Tax Administration Vero’s information systems have undergone tremendous changes over the last few decades. Jarkko Levasma who took over as the Chief Development and Information Officer in 2018 has seen Vero through an accelerated pace of development. A growing number of projects has increased the demand for application development.
One project has been particularly significant. “Vero’s Valmis program has been by far the largest software project in recent years. As part of this project, we created the OmaVero (MyTax) service for citizens and businesses,” Levasma explains.
Expertise in testing large-scale products
Right from the early stages of the development of Valmis, Vero discovered that the project has massive testing needs both due to both the system size and its different interfaces.
After consulting colleagues from similar large-scale ERP projects, Vero concluded that test automation is one of the most important ways to meet the test requirements of the Valmis project. “We realized early on that it is not possible to conduct regression testing of a project of this size completely manually,” Levasma says.
Following a call for tender in 2015, Tietokarhu and Qentinel were selected as Vero’s test automation partners. “Qentinel offered us the expertise we needed for the project and Tietokarhu gave us the workforce and taxation knowledge. Qentinel has found an ideal solution for an integrated system that is exceptionally large and continually changing. It was especially important for us that the solution offers flexibility and maintainability to keep up with evolving taxation,” Levasma adds.
Vero continued its partnership with Tietokarhu until the fall of 2019, after which it signed a new six-year contract directly with Qentinel.
The importance of a reliable taxation system
For Vero, continuity has always been of utmost importance — ensuring that all systems always function reliably. In fact, continuity is one of Vero’s steadfast cornerstones and is a basis for all their activities.
Without test automation and the quality of information systems it produces, tax applications along with services provided to citizens and businesses would not work with the certainty we are used to. For instance, an unstable operation could delay tax refunds, causing major problems for businesses — this could destabilize society as a whole.
The quality of systems can ensure that taxation is reliable and trustworthy. When an individual or business can count on the fundamentals of taxation and its reliable functioning, it also facilitates smooth payment of taxes.
This is reflected in the fact that Finns are much more conscientious taxpayers than, say, Americans.
Bold experiments with quality assurance
Quality assurance and continuity are a major part of every stage of Vero’s service development, starting from service planning. “Right from the onset, we test what potential problems we may face. With the Fail-fast model, we ensure the systems behind the services are reliable and trustworthy. This rewarding operating model has fast become a part of our work culture.”
The design of tax system architectures is based on the security of operation and a long life cycle — they are made to last for years and even decades.
“The systems must have a clear, logical and modular structure so that they can adapt to changes that happen over time. In addition, we must continuously work towards ensuring continuity.”
“However, the most important thing is to realize that you can never fully ensure the systems are functioning. In such a case, it is important to always have a continuity plan: What to do when something happens. Carefully making a plan, practicing the measures and quickly resolving any problems are key to ensuring system continuity.”
Thorough testing to keep with evolving taxation
Qentinel’s test automation and quality assurance services for Vero covers both continuous application management and new application development. The role of automation is becoming increasingly important as new features are added to keep up with taxation changes.
“Every single time something is modified, an automated test has to run to ensure that the changes have not broken the system somewhere else. We run these tests tens of thousands of times, and the benefits multiply as we run them year after year.”
Test automation saves a massive amount of manual work. “Without automation, comprehensive testing would not be possible. Automation can run constantly at no additional cost. This makes a tremendous difference to the quality of the systems as all changes can be tested as soon as they are made.”
Changes in taxation are a common occurrence in the tax administration system. Weekly modifications made to Vero’s Valmis software are tested immediately. The tests reveal if the changes have compromised the functionality of the system. Any detected errors are then resolved immediately.
After five years of working with Qentinel, Levasma says he is feeling confident about their future working relationship. ”Right from the beginning, I have been pleased with Qentinel’s expertise as our test automation partner. Their experts have done a good and innovative job. They listen to what we need and have been able to solve problems efficiently. I warmly recommended working with Qentinel to everyone including my American colleagues,” Levasma concludes.