In this blog series, we speak with test managers and test coordinators from various industries. At Testersuite we like to hear the various views on testing and what occupies a test manager or test coordinator. Meet Adri van Setten van der Meer, test manager at the Province of North Brabant.
Who is Adri?
My name is Adri van Setten van der Meer and I have been working as a test manager for the Province of Noord Brabant since 2014. In my private life I have been happily married for 42 years. My wife and I have four children, aged 32 to 37. We have nine grandchildren and the tenth grandchild is on the way. So our home is often very busy. In my spare time, I work for the local broadcasting company as an editor, cameraman and video editor.
Can you tell us about your career?
I started working in 1977. After my training in measurement and control technology (electrical engineering), I started at Philips Medical Systems. I found that very challenging and interesting because many techniques come together at Medical Systems. You have to think of IT, mechanics, electronics, cryogenics, high voltage, X-ray and so on. The first projects I was involved in were the development of the first CT systems and MRI scanners.
I worked at the interface of development and production of medical systems. The projects were already being carried out in a Scrum manner, although it was not yet called that. We had a physical space, the so-called 'War Room', where the project team from various disciplines discussed the progress of the project every day. On the walls, each discipline had a blackboard with notepads with various topics, tasks and issues, which were discussed every morning. A very interactive way of project development.
Prototypes were developed and built, which we had to test on the basis of requirements and regulations of external bodies. Our "acceptance" test results were translated into manufacturing specifications. Produced medical systems were checked against these manufacturing specifications, similar to performing a regression test.
We carried out various types of tests. You have to think of what nowadays is called proof of concept, unit test, system integration test, acceptance test and load & stress test. At that time, we did not yet have test methodologies such as TMap or ISTQB, but many elements you see in those methodologies were already being applied.
"At that time we did not have testing methodologies such as TMap or ISTQB, but we were already applying many elements of these methodologies.
In 1999, I left Philips and entered the secondment business. I started as a project manager at CMG (which was later taken over by CGI). Because blood is thicker than water, I returned to the testing business in 2004. Since then I have mainly carried out test assignments at clients of CGI. At the moment I am working as a test manager at the province of Noord Brabant.
Can you tell us something about the Province of North Brabant and your role there?
You could say that provinces are in between municipalities and the national government. The primary task of provinces is spatial planning (zoning plans, nature management, etc.). The Province of Noord Brabant has a total of approximately 1,000 employees.
I have been hired by the province and work as a test manager / test coordinator for the test center. The test center is responsible for developing and maintaining a testing approach within the province. Testersuite plays an important role in this because it ensures assurance of the testing approach within the province. The test center advises and supports in projects and departments in performing testing activities.
At the test center, I am also responsible for a project (proof of concept) on test automation. We are doing this with a tool from TrendIC called ICTestautomation. When we start using this more broadly within the province we will probably also start using the integration with Testersuite.
What is your biggest challenge as a test manager?
My biggest challenge is to make sure that people keep the goal of testing in mind. People tend to think the route is more important than the goal. As a result, they don't always test the right things or the testing gets bogged down in unimportant details. "A bookcase for a children's room has different requirements than a bookcase for a library". The testing must therefore be in line with the requirements.
How do you deal with this challenge?
Make it constantly clear to people what the goal is. Then they will be able to decide for themselves how to test. In doing so, I tell the people/testers that, as representatives of their colleagues, they must assess and demonstrate that the system works well enough for them to do their daily work well. My motto is "Live with flying colours but keep it simple".
How is Testersuite used in testing?
Testersuite is used to manage functional and user acceptance testing. We do this in custom projects such as the development of the depot management system. (A system for managing archaeological finds stored in the provincial depot). But also in projects carried out by third parties such as SAP-Hana, Brabantse Zorgvuldigheidsscore Veehouderij there is a lot of testing and use of Testersuite. The tests are prepared and executed in Testersuite and the defects are recorded. Developers pick up the defects in Testersuite.
As a test manager, I also work a lot with Testersuite. It is my main tool for preparing, planning and coordinating test cycles. I prepare tests for the testers, I track and monitor the progress, and I prepare the test report.
"My motto is:
Live with flying colours but keep it simple".
What do you think of Testersuite?
I really like the tool. Testersuite is very clear and uncluttered, you quickly get to the information you need. A very powerful feature is the Masterlist. Here we manage our regression tests that we can then use in multiple projects. This saves a lot of time.
County employees like working with it because the tool is very intuitive. People who are invited to test along for a while need a short learning time. Testersuite fits my motto nicely in that respect! Because Testersuite is a cloud application, we can also very easily involve external parties in test cycles.
What I also find very positive is that the tool is developing strongly. Customers have the opportunity to make their wishes known and something is actually done with them by Testersuite. This is also reflected in the development of the tool.
What does your future as a test manager look like?
I will reach retirement age in 2018, so I hope to enjoy my retirement at the end of 2018. Until then, I will continue to work for the province and try to leave the testing as well as possible.
What developments do you expect in the testing profession?
Organisations change ever faster and systems have to change along with them. Faulty or unclear products are accepted less and less. Testing remains very important and will also increasingly become a task within various roles. There is a continuous striving for early error detection because high repair costs are not accepted. Techniques such as "buddy testing" (testing each other's development work) and reviewing designs contribute to early error detection. This is sometimes underestimated.
Test automation is an important development but is also often overestimated. My maxim is that test automation makes no sense when there are less than 6 releases per year. Then the costs for building and maintaining the tests usually exceed the benefits.
Do you have any tips for other test managers?
My tip is quite simple: "Always keep the goal of testing in mind". Always keep asking yourself what a solution contributes to the ultimate goal.
Do you have interesting experiences in the testing profession that you would like to share? Let's talk!