@BeSafe – Paula & Knut
BeSafe is a medium-size insurance company. Their competitive edge results from defining innovative, tailored and profitable insurance products.
Paula is a product designer at BeSafe. She and her teammates are responsible for defining the data structures, calculations and rules that make up an insurance product in terms of fees, payouts, deadlines and constraints. They are also responsible for assessing the profitability and regulatory compliance of the products. Knut is a software developer at BeSafe. He and his teammates write the software that runs the products specified by Paula’s team in BeSafe’s data center, ensuring availability, scalability and security.
Because Paula is responsible for the products’ consistency and profitability, she uses Excel, and sometimes Matlab to model and test key aspects of each product. Once she is confident about a product, Paula uses Word to write the final product specification, relying on natural language plus a couple of tables and the occasional mathematical formula or diagram.
Paula then hands the specification over to Knut and his teammates so it can be realized in software. While the development team has built considerable expertise regarding insurance products over the years, it is still a challenge for them to implement a new product correctly: they struggle to understand the details. To him, it feels like they are “debugging” the specification and they are expected to become an insurance expert.
While the software development is ongoing, Paula supports Knut’s team with the validation of the software against her specification. This is a mostly manual and lengthy process where she compares the running software against the document. In the case of inconsistencies, Knut digs into code and tries to to follow. Which is hard for her, because she cannot recognize the specification in the details of the code. Paula feels like she is expected to be a deputy software engineer.