In this blog series, we feature test professionals from a variety of industries. At Testersuite we like to hear what occupies a test professional within the testing profession. What is the test professional's vision and what does the future look like for test professionals?
In this special edition of Let's Talk About Test, we let our very own test professional Dirk Janssen, sales consultant and customer success manager at Testersuite, tell his story.
"When you make changes to your process or systems, you have to want to know what you're doing."
Just a heads up: who is Dirk?
My name is Dirk and I am forty-four years old. Together with my wife Janneke I live in the beautiful Brabant town of Asten. Of course that includes my three adolescents. Two boys (10 and 12) and a girl (14).
In addition to my work, I enjoy being involved in music. Recently I picked up playing the trumpet again. My wife plays the flute. At the music society in our village a program for restarters has started. So I took up the trumpet and my wife the flute. We are also taking lessons again. I am also active in the soccer club where my boys play. This mainly concerns non-football-related matters.
Did you want to become a test consultant in grade school?
No, definitely not. I never knew what I wanted to be. I had that my whole school period. What I mainly wanted was to get married and have children haha. On the weekends I went to lay decorative paving with an uncle of mine. Because of my interest in engineering I went to HTS, but that was not for me.
So how did you get into the testing profession?
My father worked at Sogeti as a tester. An open house at Sogeti sparked my interest in IT. What I absolutely didn't want was to become a tester, because that's what my father did. Yes, you don't do the same as your father. I ended up working at Sogeti anyway. My first assignment was testing an SAP environment haha. However, this turned out to be more fun than I thought. I particularly liked the role of test coordinator. That is the direction I eventually chose.
Sogeti trained me further in the testing profession. So I did TMap and numerous other things involved in testing. By now we are seventeen years down the road.
"The common denominator is that you always have to bring people together."
What do you encounter in organizations as a test professional?
I have seen numerous companies and industries. Sometimes you see very high test maturity. In banks, for example, where hedging of risks is very important. Especially the technology is then very well arranged. But you also come across organizations where nothing has yet been arranged in the area of testing.
The common denominator is that you always have to bring people together. Communication between different stakeholders and departments is important. Everyone is on their own island. As a consultant, you oversee all that and you're talking a lot with people from different departments. You bring them together and make them see the impact that departments have on each other. At the same time, you are working in the systems to provide solutions.
Being the connecting factor is a lot of fun. So I am less of a test engineer but more of a test coordinator; the oil man so to speak. That suits me well and gives me a lot of pleasure.
What problems do you encounter with organizations?
The first question I ask is what are the business processes and what does your application landscape look like? That is not often answered. People usually know about their own department, but overall they have no idea. There is then a lack of overview, documentation and insight. How does one connect to the other and why? That question too is not easily answered.
In addition, testing is not popular. I thought in my early career that this would grow tremendously. However, companies see testing as a necessary evil. As a result, they start testing far too late within projects. It is not seen as a priority and so little money and time is spent on it.
What is the reason for that?
Naivety and ignorance play an important role in this. Therefore, people do not want to spend money on it. Sometimes people expect or think that the supplier will take care of it. You do see it getting better because business and IT are increasingly merging. Every company today is an IT company. Still, testing remains a gospel that still needs to be preached.
"When you make changes to your process or systems, you have to want to know what you're doing."
And what then is that gospel?
When you make changes to your process or systems, you should want to know what you are doing. So much can go wrong when going live. You want to keep a grip on day-to-day work and its quality. The business should be disrupted as little as possible, so the quality of the applications should be optimal. Your IT systems must do what you set them up to do. You don't want data loss and disruptions. That's why knowing in advance what the impact of going live is so important. So testing must be done.
Have you ever experienced this going wrong in an organization?
Yes, that was about a time-recording system. That was a complex process on which many people and organizations depended. The management felt that at 70% test coverage, they could go live (actually, it had long been determined that they wanted to go live). That resulted in a year of misery because data was lost that people depended on. Those things are then restored, but sometimes even that is not possible afterwards. Eventually everything was restored after a year which cost a lot of money. This could have been prevented by more testing.
How do you deal with the fact that organizations see testing as a necessary evil?
I think testing is important, I know it is necessary and many people see it differently. Then the test evangelist in me comes out anyway. So you will have to keep proclaiming the word. Often in a project you find a lonely supporter who then clings to you. That makes it easier within such an organization.
In other cases, you are paired with someone who just finds it awkward. Then things don't go as easily. Most importantly, you have to go ahead and make things transparent. That includes sometimes having to accept that things do go live.
When is an assignment successful for you?
When a project needs to go live and you get the most out of it by making good choices. Even though you put on the pressure you still manage to get people to commit. When that works, it's wonderful. I have also worked in a DevOps team. When you then build something together and can show it to the organization it is very satisfying. The best is of course when you have created awareness within an organization regarding testing.
"Testing is redundant, testing is expensive, testing doesn't yield anything..."
What myths and misconceptions about testing do you encounter?
There are several: Testing is redundant, testing is expensive, testing doesn't yield anything... What I also see a lot is people thinking that testautomation solves everything. You set up a testautomation tool and then it runs forever. So you can fire all your testers. That, of course, is total nonsense. Applications change and your landscape changes with them. Therefore, a testautomation tool needs continuous maintenance. That costs time and money. In addition, a testautomation tool cannot, for example, perform monkey-testing or exploration testing for you.
What problem does Testersuite solve for test coordinators and test managers?
Most importantly, you gain overview and insight with Testersuite. With Testersuite you bring everything together in one central place. This allows you to start testing based on risk. Is there a tight deadline? Then grab the biggest risks first and so on ... That works streamlined from Testersuite. You have complete visibility.
In Testersuite , you are not just doing your test preparation. During test execution, you have a constant view of where you stand and how you are doing within your test cycles. This gives you the ability to steer and report. You're no longer behind the times because you constantly know where you stand.
What problem does Testersuite solve for IT managers?
The IT manager looks at the whole at a higher level. He looks at the entire landscape. With Testersuite , the IT manager gains insight into where the bottlenecks are. Think of things like which suppliers need attention and who delivers inferior quality? So you always know how your application landscape is doing.
"That means, as a tester, you get to go do the fun stuff and be involved with people more than anything else."
How do you see the future of the testing profession?
There have been many developments over the past 20 years. Everything is getting more complex and AI is also on the horizon. There used to be a lot of boring repetitive manual testing work that can now, thankfully, be automated. That means that, as a tester, you can start doing the fun stuff and be involved mostly with people. In addition, AI is going to have an impact on testing, but that applies to every field. Nobody knows how AI will develop, but for now humans will still be an important factor within the testing profession.
What is your advice to organizations regarding testing?
Testing is a profession, take it seriously. Make it part of your daily routines. Find people who are interested in it and make space for it.
Anything else you want to say?
Testing is a very beautiful profession, I have been doing it for years with a lot of love and pleasure. People and technology come together there and it contributes to the quality of processes.