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Let's talk about test... Maarten Beks

November 2, 2021
Maarten Beks, Test Architect.
Maarten Beks, Test Architect.

In this blog series, we speak with testing professionals from numerous industries. At Testersuite , we like to hear the diverse views on testing and what makes a test professional tick.

Meet in this edition of Let's Talk About Test with Maarten BeksTest Architect at Enexis (Via Haystaq).

"Something may be functionally well tested but the business doesn't benefit from it at all."

Just a heads up: Who is Maarten?

That is me. Married to Ingrid and we have 2 children: Teun (14) and Saartje van (12). I am 48 years old and live in beautiful Helmond. Furthermore, we have two dogs. These are Bobby and Sjors, Parson Russel Terriers. They are less fierce than a Jack Russel.

My hobbies are good food and wine. As a true wine lover, I have taken numerous wine courses. There is only one exam left before I am admitted to the wine academy. There you can take a one-year course to become a vinologist. That is a wish for the future.

As a true bon vivant, weight is a challenge. To keep it up, I am a fanatical cyclist. Both on the road bike and on the mountain bike. This has to keep each other in balance. This is how I yo-yo through life.

Did you want to become a testing professional in primary school?

In primary school, I wanted to be a fireman, an ice-cream man or a pilot. None of these three succeeded. Although I could learn well, I was lazy. After secondary school, I did two years of pre-university education because I didn't know what I wanted to do.

On the advice of my school, I did not take the VWO exam. However, I did like maths and chemistry. The dean advised me to do chemical technology or mathematics. That's how I ended up taking the maths teacher training. Actually, I didn't really want to become a teacher, but I did enjoy being in the classroom.

So how did you end up in IT?

At that time, people were looking for many people for IT. With my background in mathematics, this appealed to me and so I became a software developer in Progress. This still seems to exist. In those days, you made something and tested it yourself and then went on to develop it again. After one and a half years, I had enough of the long travelling time and switched to another organisation.

Where did your interest in the testing profession come from?

That was at the Eindhovens Dagblad. As a functional manager there, I really came into contact with testing via change and release management. I was sent on a training course at Logic. There, they had developed the Test Frame methodology for testing. This enabled us to set up our own test process. I really liked this.

Eventually, I switched to Logica to become a test engineer. With my background there, I picked up test automation and performance testing. Later I started working for Salves where I was involved in test automation. I tried to get out of technology by taking on the role of test manager for a client. Eventually I did go back into technology. I think the role of test manager is somewhat overrated. In this period I did study the improvement and optimisation of tests.

"I was one of the first people in the world to get the ISTQB expert certificate.

So you have specialised in test management?

Yes, I was one of the first in the world to get the ISTQB expert certificate(ed: International Software Testing Qualifications Board). We are the first class that has passed worldwide. This is mainly about how do you improve testing processes and put testing on the map. You have to keep developing yourself (I have done a lot of training) and not always stay stuck in the same thing.

After having worked at Salves for 8.5 years, I became involved in founding Haystaq. A company specialised in test automation. Haystaq aims to help organisations become better at testing and test automation. You also have to know about testing. Otherwise it will not work.

Why did Enexis hire your testing expertise?

Initially I went from Haystaq to Enexis for a 40-hour assignment. That was about the automated testing of applications created with Mendix. More assignments followed.

What was the reason for Enexis to purchase a test management tool?

The immediate reason was the demand from a program for a tool for test management purposes. Jira was used, but they did not have a real test management tool with which we could move into the future. We then started a tender procedure which Testersuite won.

Why did Enexis choose Testersuite ?

As part of the tender, we asked all stakeholders what a test management tool should meet. Out of that came Testersuite . We implemented this and by continually guiding and massaging it in, we see that it is growing. We now see that it has been a very good step and that it has achieved the goal of test process improvement. I like that. We are also trying to phase out and standardize more and more tools.

"By working uniformly you get clean reporting. That's where Testersuite helped us..."

What benefits Testersuite Enexis.

For Enexis, using Testersuite means we can start recording testing in a uniform way. Some people did this in Excel and others again with a Word template, Notepad or even by heart.

You want to be able to take a snapshot of the status of quality in a project at any time. You can only do that if you do it centrally and in a uniform way. It's about making a quality judgment about the implementation of requirements. I think that is the most important thing. By working uniformly you get clean reporting. That's where Testersuite helped us and this process is still ongoing.

Acceptance testing is going well now. So we want more areas to start working this way. The new environments functionality in Testersuite is very nice. We have been pilot customers for this and have also been able to have some influence on how it should look.

Where do you see opportunity for improvement of Testersuite?

Because of our way of working, I am less able to work with the scenario functionality and the structure of the master list. This is also related to how we approach agile working. However, I can imagine that many organisations think differently.

What does the future look like for the test manager?

It is not. As I mentioned earlier, I think the role of test manager is somewhat overrated. Based on the premise that scrum teams are (or should be) self-managing, I have little reason (I sit in agile teams a lot) to assume that this function will remain long. What is the value of a test manager in agile teams?

I think you need a test architect much more. He ensures that testing takes place according to the right strategy. An architect sets the strategy and the scrum teams have to pick it up and implement it. A test manager is then a complete waste. Of course, I realise that many companies are still based on Waterfall, so I understand the need for a test manager.

The appointment of a test manager has been the test community's cry to put testing on the map. But a lot of people disagree. You don't need a development manager either, do you? There are not many really mature agile organisations. I see a big difference between saying you are and actually acting agile.

"Something can be functionally well tested but the business doesn't benefit from it at all. That's hard to understand sometimes."

What is your advice to other test professionals?

Go back to the heart of the matter. Follow the right strategy. Verification and validation are different things. Verification is: 'are you building the product right'. Validation is: 'are you building the right product'.

Something can be functionally well tested but the business doesn't benefit from it at all. That is sometimes difficult to understand.

Anything else you want to say?

I hope you guys continue to develop Testersuite. I like the approachability and ease of application of Testersuite . Please keep this up.

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