In this blog series, we feature testing professionals from a variety of industries. At Testersuite we like to hear the various views on testing and what concerns a test professional.
In this edition of Let's Talk About Test, meet Andries, Test Manager at Municipality of Amsterdam (via Pancompany).
"I still have to keep explaining the basic abc's of testing."
Just a heads up: who is Andries?
What do you want to know, haha? I am 52 years old and live with Sandra and our son Jasper who is about to leave home. We moved to Gorinchem for Sandra's work.
What title do I attach to my work? Well, in my current assignment at the City of Amsterdam, I am a test manager. In that role I manage the people and the process. In other assignments I am really at the controls and do everything myself. Yes, what do you call yourself then?
Did you want to be a tester in grade school?
Haha, well I once broke the lights on my parents' oven as a kid. So that was my first test case. That light was never fixed again. Then I was 4 or 5. Later I started working all summer to be able to buy the Commodore 64. Mainly for gaming. In addition, of course, it was great fun to call my brother and then type: 10 print "Marius is crazy"; 20 goto 10. That period was a stepping stone to IT for me.
At HEAO I had to program in Turbo Pascal. If you removed one error, you immediately had another twenty errors. I did not finish HEAO because I switched to the Higher Nautical College. There I graduated in logistics with a thesis on process improvement in container inland shipping. That is the 'shore side' and not the 'shipping side'.
How did you get into the testing profession?
After graduation I joined KZA which stands for quality assurance in automation. Think about quality from code to go live. So also test process improvement. That's where I did my test training.
After KZA, I ended up with Exact Easy Access. This no longer exists. These were two companies, one specializing in bar code scanning software and the other in ERP software. This later merged into Exact software. There I professionalized testing and was responsible for the service desk.
Through a job posting for an ERP test manager, I ended up at Sogeti. That's how I ended up in Frank's unit. Now I have been working at PAN-company for over 11 years in a midlance construction. From here I now fulfill the role of test manager for the municipality of Amsterdam.
"You have to stay in control otherwise such a project is not going to succeed."
Where are your challenges as a test manager at the City of Amsterdam?
For this SAP implementation, the City of Amsterdam would like to test with internal people. That has some snags to get it right. You definitely don't want to do this in Excel.
We have five to six scrum teams. Then it's not going to work if everyone starts putting test cases and defects into Excel and working in their own way, without understanding what others are doing. Frank called me and told me about Testersuite. That connected well with the process we are working on now
I want people at Amsterdam to work in a fixed pattern. You have to stay in control or such a project will not succeed. By being in control of the process you keep an overview, you can then steer in good time. With Testersuite I can retrieve information very quickly. Because you have insight, you know where you stand.
What problems do you run into as a test manager?
Testing remains a profession and it is often underestimated. You run into lack of knowledge and skills. People often say 'we need to automate' but I always have to explain the standard abc's of the basic elements of testing. Then test automation is very far away and you have a lot of work to do.
Sometimes managers want to push through test automation when the basics are not in place. Then they hope to save time and money but achieve the opposite. Getting that mindset out is sometimes very difficult.
How do you deal with this in practice?
By explaining a lot. The standard abc's again. From your testing experience, you establish a set of requirements. Often you then run into constraints such as budget or resistance to hiring people. I then do point out the risks to the client. If they then still hold on to their own ideas, it just stops. It is difficult when you want to do a job well and someone slams on the brakes. Then you have to choose, do I adapt or don't accept the assignment.
"We linked Testersuite to Jira and quickly, too."
What "milestones" have you achieved at the Amsterdam municipality?
A milestone is that we have linkedTestersuite to Jira and quickly too. We need to synchronize real time defects . That's a requirement. It's great to see that testers at the City of Amsterdam are getting better and better at creating test cases.
At the end of your program you want to have a requirement tracebility matrix. Requirements are translated into user stories, which are imported into Testersuite, tested there and fed back to Jira. Of course this is not possible for everything but a large part of the work runs this way. Nice to see that process grow.
What problem does Testersuite solve for you?
The problem of staying in control. At some point things get too big because you have a lot of people involved, for example. As a tester, you can put everything you need in the test case build of Testersuite. It is also very easy to register defects . As an administrator, especially organizing regression testing is ideal from Testersuite. They need to keep doing this at Amsterdam, there is no getting around it. After all, SAP has regular updates and releases. So how do you want to start regression testing? In Excel again? Surely you need Testersuite for that.
Where do you see opportunity for improvement in Testersuite?
In Testersuite you have terms like requirements, test cases, defects and test cycles. That took some getting used to because the terminology is not always familiar to testers. For example, a script is a test case and that took some getting used to. Perhaps you can do something with that?
What does the future of testing look like?
I think you're dealing with two tracks. There are organizations that have testing in place, for example, organizations with a good DEVOPS approach, and organizations that don't. For that second track, you still have to explain the abcs in implementation projects. That's not going to change anytime soon.
"That means going back to explaining the basics of a good testing process."
I see that IT tenders are often procured based on the lowest price. So how do you know that this party is doing the best implementation? They are hired based on lowest price. They actually know how to do it but it becomes too expensive and then they don't win the tender. Then again you get the discussion about time and money, which is why you keep having organizations that don't implement or have implemented something properly. That means you have to start explaining the basics of a good testing process again. Anyway, that's how I keep my job.
What is your advice to other test managers?
Don't forget the abc's of the principles of testing. Don't overestimate and underestimate your audience, the people you are in a program with. Sometimes in projects you will be dealing with people who have testing knowledge but more often this is not the case. Start with the basics of testing first because otherwise things can get pretty messy.
Anything else you want to say?
I am very curious to see how Testersuite will evolve. Testersuite clearly fulfills a demand. I gave a presentation within Amsterdam about Testersuite to test automation people. They asked about links to Testersuite. I then made it clear that Testersuite forms the basis for your test automation. Once that is in place, you can start looking at links between Testersuite and test automation tools.