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Let's talk about test-automation... Henk van de Wardt

November 26, 2020
Henk van de Wardt, Test Manager
Henk van de Wardt, Test Manager

In this special edition of Let's Talk About Test, we talk with Henk van de Wardt, Test Manager at PGGM Asset Management. In this interview, he talks about how Testersuite is deployed in combination with test automation. Let's talk about test-automation!

"Make sure you have your manual testing in order. Then start working with test automation".

Heads up: Who is Henk?

My name is Henk. Born in Rhenen and living in Opheusden. I like it there with my girlfriend and our dog. We both work from home for six months now and that goes well!

I train on the bike a few times a week. In the 1990s, I raced in the ATB sports class for the Koga Miyata team. That was when Bart Brentjes won gold at the Olympics.

During my part-time hbo studies, I started working as a tester at the Ministry of Justice. Testing was then a way for me to graduate. Ultimately, testing became my profession. I still do it with a lot of passion and pleasure. Testers are sometimes seen as sour people, but ultimately you are the thermometer of the organisation. You are the spider in the web and that is what I like about testing.

What is your role in the testing process at PGGM Investments?

The testing profession has many roles. From test manager to tester. My role consists of the whole spectrum. From managing test projects to testing myself. You see that this is increasingly becoming the role of the test professional. Professionals who only coordinate, manage or test are less and less in demand. You have to be able to do everything these days.

But what is your job as an all-round tester?

If you apply testing according to the letter of the law in projects, there will be no green light anywhere. My job is to manage that well. There is no such thing as one hundred per cent error-free or one hundred per cent testing. What does exist is the management of risks. That is what testing is all about. You have to make sure that the test process and the other components within a project run like a gearbox. So don't frustrate the project but strengthen it by testing correctly. If that goes well, they will ask you back for the next project.

IT exists by the grace of the business. The business has become much more mature in recent years. IT used to determine what to work with. Now the business decides how and with what they want to work. Many organisations still have not got this right.

Testing must provide insight into whether what the business has requested is actually delivered. That is my job.

Why was a test automation tool chosen at PGGM Investments?

A lot of testing is done by the business. That is a secondary task. In order to relieve the business of regression testing, test automation has been applied. Another aspect is that you can run more tests in a shorter time, so the test coverage and therefore the reliability increases.

"The time saved is in the fact that you can test more in a short time".

So that shortens the testing process?

Not directly. The assessment of test results remains human work. Test findings must be viewed and assessed by people. A test finding can be the result of many causes. Think of an error in a script or test case, an error in the process or an incorrect set-up of the automation tool. There may also have been a hiccup in the system or a real bug may have been found. Sorting this out and solving it remains human work. That is sometimes forgotten. The time-saving lies in the fact that you can do more tests in a short period of time.

So there is still manual work to be done!

Exactly! The mistake that is often made is thinking that test automation saves testers and therefore money. People forget that you have to develop and maintain scripts, set up the tool and manage and act on the results. The profit lies mainly in test coverage and speed.

Why was a test management tool chosen at PGGM Investments?

Testing is the thermometer within IT projects. You have to report on it in an unambiguous and qualitative way. A test management tool is very important in this respect. In it you prepare (regression) tests, link them to products and/or requirements, plan them, carry them out and register defects. This gives me an overview. Everything is centralised in a secure environment. For me, this is the basis for automation and reporting.

Where do you start in this whole process? Automation or management tool?

You can only automate testing if your manual testing is in order. When your test cases are in the test management tool, they form the basis for your test automation tool. A test management tool is crucial to have transparency and insight and to be able to manage things.

The test-automation tool Microfocus UFT was already working here but not ideally set up. We rectified that by starting with Testersuite among other things. So the adage is first get the testing process in order with a test management tool and then make the move to test automation.

"I can now directly report the progress and quality of manual and automated testing".

Why the coupling between the Microfocus and Testersuite?

Overview and clarity. I can now report directly on the progress and quality of manual and automated testing. That is a huge advantage. That is why we have established this link.

Was the link easy to establish?

An API often seems simple. In practice, that's not always true. But in working with Testersuite , this actually went pretty quickly. It's also a matter of deploying the right people. I don't sit in between myself because I don't speak the technical language. If a project manager sits in between there is a lot of redundancy and delay. We didn't suffer from that because of our working method. Our people and the Testersuite people worked closely together and understood each other. In two weeks it was settled.

What brings you the link between Testersuite and Microfocus?

Instant insight on the progress and quality of automated tests. Also for the project manager and release manager. They can also see this in Testersuite. Real-time information provides insight into the status of quality and planning. It provides management information for time (how much work remains to be done), planning (are we going to meet the deadline) and money.

For the regression test cases to be automated, a custom field has been created with which we can easily provide insight into the workload for the test automators.

What does the future look like, manual testing or automated testing?

I sometimes have these discussions. Testing is wasteful is a nice proposition. Look, if you build flawlessly, you don't need to test anymore. That is not going to happen any more than test automation is going to replace manual testing.

It will co-exist and complement each other. You always have to assess whether what has been built is in line with what the business wants. That is also about look and feel. How are you going to test that through automation?

Practical testing remains the most important indicator. A good example is a car built by computer simulations. During the first practical test with an elk, the car already lay on its side.

"Has the right thing been built?"

So, practical testing is the key to success?

Testing answers two questions: is it built correctly and is it built correctly? The first question is easy to automate. The second question contains a human aspect that is difficult to automate. Manual testing therefore continues to exist alongside automated testing.

The business must be involved early on in IT projects. There are countless examples of software that has been built correctly but is not usable by the business. That is where it goes wrong with the requirements (mis-match). So it is important that you involve the business in your development and testing at an early stage. That cannot be automated.

What is your advice to other test managers considering test automation?

Make sure you have your manual testing in order. Only then get started with test automation.

Anything else you want to say?

Yes, definitely. The no-nonsense approach of Testersuite in our collaboration for the API connection ensured that this was in place quickly. We now have the benefits of that.

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