Dun & Bradstreet Case Study

DBSmartBear recently interviewed John Caiafa, a Solution Architect-Financial Services for Dun & Bradstreet, on the company’s use of SmartBear SoapUI Pro. With an easy-to-use graphical interface and enterprise-class features, SoapUI Pro allows D&B developers to rapidly create and execute automated Web services and load tests. In a single test environment, SoapUI Pro provides D&B with complete test coverage and supports all standard protocols and technologies.

How long have you used SoapUI Pro?

Approximately one year.

What role does SoapUI Pro play in your operations?

We leverage SoapUI Pro to develop API prototypes and demonstrate them to clients for two D&B Direct services. This includes our Sales & Marketing tool that helps clients learn more about their business partners and find new business connections. SoapUI Pro also assists with our Supply Management tool, which helps analyze supplier performance and certify suppliers.

These API products support features and functionality that allow us to tailor solutions to meet specific client needs. SoapUI Pro is the conduit to these custom solutions and allows our internal team to efficiently support both pre-and post-sales activities.

What specific functions does SoapUI Pro fulfill?

SoapUI Pro helps us impress clients by allowing our API demonstrations to run more smoothly. We can also more quickly build API prototypes. The software is particularly helpful for research and development in support of integrated solutions that use our API products.

SoapUI Pro plays a crucial role for us because our website is actually a workbench environment for our clients to facilitate access to the APIs underlying the Sales & Marketing and Supply Management products. Although some of our APIs offer standard functionality, we can make them more robust with the capabilities that SoapUI Pro enables.

How often does your development team use SoapUI Pro?

We use SoapUI Pro on a daily basis to define design-level specs for each client and help them with the implementation. Much of this work involves demonstrating the specific functionality offered through the APIs. SoapUI Pro makes it possible to deliver demonstrations that are easy for clients to follow.

Does SoapUI Pro also help from a programming perspective?

Yes—our internal team develops prototype applications (stub code) used as starting points for clients that then tailor the applications to the way they need the APIs to function in their environment. There are also situations where clients tell us an API is acting differently from what they expected, or they need the API to do something new. We then customize SoapUI to replicate the environment and build a prototype with the necessary adjustments.

What has been the most useful SoapUI Pro feature for your business?

WSDL integration allows us to demonstrate and implement API functionality without having to develop a user interface. This is a key feature and the primary reason we chose SoapUI Pro. With WSDL, there are input parameters that are part of the API protocol. If we don’t use SoapUI Pro, we have to work in an XML environment to build and demonstrate functionality. But SoapUI Pro picks up all the input parameters, saving us a ton of time and helping us demonstrate the important parts of using the protocols to clients.

What solution did you previously use for API testing and why did you choose to rely on SoapUI Pro?

We did not have a formal tool in place and considered two other tools as a conduit to our APIs. But they were cumbersome to work with and required too much time to complete the prototyping tasks. They also did not facilitate customer demonstrations the way we wanted.

That’s when we realized we needed something more intuitive and user-friendly. We started with the free version of SoapUI, and based on its slick interface, we upgraded to the Pro version for enhanced functionality. SoapUI Pro provides all the capabilities we need, and the product is well-supported with documentation and technical support. SoapUI Pro also provides an intuitive view of complex business solutions, which allows us to clearly communicate the value of our integration products and services.

This ability is important because we spend a fair amount of time educating clients on how to use protocols. When conducting demonstrations, the APIs need to be client-facing, and the SoapUI Pro interface gives us confidence in using the tool in front of clients while demonstrating our specific functionality.

Other products offer some of the capabilities we need, but none provide such a well-rounded set of services as is the case with SoapUI Pro.

How do you measure the ROI D&B has received from SoapUI Pro?

Our success with D&B Direct is ultimately measured by the sales and implementation of our API products, so the justification for SoapUI Pro has been proven by our revenue numbers. We used SoapUI Pro for all of 2012 and generated approximately $10 million in revenue, which for a new product launched in late 2011 is a solid number.

Without SoapUI, going through our sales process would be like trying to sell cars without allowing customers to see the cars. SoapUI Pro makes it easy to show all the features we now offer—we have always had integration APIs, but the new APIs provide features and functionality our clients did not have before.

At lot of that has to do with the technologies our protocols make available and demonstrating the new integration goes a long way towards bringing in new business. With our new tools, there are so many new features associated with the APIs that to solely rely on the workbench would not make sense.

We thus need to demo the features, and we need to rapidly develop prototypes following the demos. SoapUI plays a key role in helping us achieve both objectives.