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Let's talk about test... Nathalie van der Ven

October 10, 2023
Profile photo of test coordinator Nathalie van der Ven.
Nathalie van der Ven, testing coordinator.

In this blog series, we feature test professionals from a variety of industries. At Testersuite we like to hear what concerns a test professional and what the various views in the field of testing. In this edition of Let's Talk About Test, meet Nathalie van der Ven, lead test coordinator at Jeroen Bosch Hospital (JBZ).

"People think of testing as putting a check mark on it."

Just a heads up: who is Nathalie?

I grew up in Sint-Michielsgestel near 's-Hertogenbosch. After living in Friesland for ten years, I have been back in Brabant for nine. With my husband, two daughters and no less than five cats I live near 's-Hertogenbosch in the village of Engelen. Most people only know Engelen from the freeway exit, haha.

So you enjoy biking to work?

No, that would be nice but logistically that is virtually impossible.

Did you want to be a tester in grade school?

No. I wanted to be a doctor or an archaeologist. Or detective or still doctor, well it changed quite a bit haha. Now I still don't know what I want to be later ;-)

So how did you get into the testing profession?

After college, I joined the Chamber of Commerce as an assistant financial controller. At the time, a new cash register system was introduced there and linked to the AS400 system. After the implementation, a lot went wrong. There were large cash register differences. This raised the question of what went wrong. Was there an error in the system or had someone been very clever in letting money flow away? This is where we then dug very deep. In the end, the problem turned out to be in the system.

This search for what went wrong was something I really enjoyed doing. I presented the defects to the supplier and together we then fixed the errors. They came very quickly with an update and changes made. That was my first experience with testing.

So the interest in the testing profession was piqued?

Yes I did. Then I applied for a job opening at Sogeti. I started working there as a young professional test engineer and did basic testing training. That was my start in the testing world. After a few assignments as a test engineer, I also took on the role of test coordinator. Other than that, I did all sorts of things that were hard to put a label on.

During that time I did many assignments with clients in the healthcare industry. Among others at VZVZ and NZA. Those were the best assignments. So there's that common ground from my youth of wanting to become a doctor haha. In 2017, a vacancy came along from JBZ . That's how I ended up here and have a great time.

"Testing is still an understudy..."

What still keeps you busy in the testing profession?

Testing is still an underdog and there are so many different views. That still amazes me. It is extraordinary to see how this is handled differently by organizations.

Where are your challenges as a test coordinator at JBZ? 

We at JBZ have the testing of HiX (electronic patient record) well in place. Still, you often see that people are not aware of the usefulness and necessity of testing. People see testing as just checking a box. This is also quite understandable because you are often dealing with people whose expertise is not testing, but then it can be a challenge to include people in a testing process.

You see that IT is becoming more and more important, both hardware and software. There are more and more links and integrations. As a result, more and more work is coming our way. We are constantly trying to critically review our own testing process. We are constantly trying to optimize it. On top of that, especially as a hospital, you have to pay attention to time and money. Those are challenges.

What problems do you run into as a test coordinator?

It's mainly the challenges as just mentioned. You're going to get to a point where it's no longer sustainable. Then you run the risk of no longer being able to guarantee the same test coverage. The number of risks in implementations and changes does increase.

How do you deal with this in practice?

By always working to optimize the process, by working more efficiently and by making smarter choices. This allows you to do risk-impact analyses and then grab only the bigger risks first.

The ideal picture, of course, is to establish the testing process as a standardized way of working throughout the hospital. Then we will be able to work efficiently and save time. Furthermore, we have already automated most of the regression testing on HiX. We also want to do that for other standard processes. But that takes time.

I understand JBZ has started a new test-automation tool?

We were already using a testautomation tool before we started ICTestAutomation. Migrating the scripts from the previous testautomation tool to ICTestAutomation took a lot of time. We are not yet where we want to be, but we expect to catch up in the coming months. Then we will also start using the link between Testersuite and ICTestAutomation. That's a nice efficiency gain. That's why we chose ICTestAutomation.

"We also see that there is still a lot of testing from Excel..."

What "milestones" have you achieved at JBZ?

That we have established a standard testing process for testing HiX and other applications that runs like a very well-oiled machine. We test the HiX updates every four weeks without encountering any strange things. That goes like clockwork. We have also implemented automated regression testing. Those are two very nice milestones.

We also see that a lot of testing is still done from Excel or phone calls come in saying 'it doesn't work.' That is why we are now very keen to make the testing and release process, as we have set up for HiX, a standard part of our change process. Think of it as a master test plan. The contours of that are now clear. We now hope to start shaping and implementing this further. That is a milestone in the making.

Are you expecting resistance at that last milestone?

Yes, a little bit. That also kind of ties in with what I said earlier; because testing is far removed from many colleagues' daily activities, testing doesn't always get top priority.

People often say that testing is certainly done in projects or changes. No results are recorded and no real procedure or methodology is followed. This is a shame, because structured testing makes you much more efficient and effective. We like to convince people of that.

Is it difficult to get key-users on board?

You have very driven key users who are eager to contribute to a well functioning application. Of course, there are also key users who have less affinity with this. Then the challenge is greater to convince them why you have to test and how you do it.

What problem does Testersuite solve for you?

It mainly gives us insight into what we want to know during and at the conclusion of a process; the progress of the test execution and the status of the tests performed and the observed defects. Testersuite is in that respect very clear and easy to use. It is also pleasant for testers to use because of its simplicity. It is nice that the master list allows you to reuse a lot of your test cases. You don't have to keep exporting and importing scripts. That's how you keep the testing process manageable.  

Where do you see opportunity for improvement in Testersuite?

Of course, improvements are always possible. We have made our wishes known to the Testersuite Team. We have already had discussions about this with the product owner and support department of Testersuite and we are going to run some tests with you. For example, what would be very nice is if we could get some more possibilities in terms of reporting. But we have already made that known.

"So you have to look at the testing process more and more critically."

In a general sense, how do you see the future of the testing profession?

For organizations, IT is becoming increasingly important. It is therefore important to test as much as possible with as few resources as possible. So you have to look more and more critically at the testing process. In addition, I think that issues such as security and privacy are becoming more and more related to numerous systems. This results in more and more stakeholders at a test cycle. That's a huge area of tension if you have to work with as few resources as possible. Especially since this should not be at the expense of quality. The importance of a well-considered test strategy is therefore increasing.

What is your advice to other test coordinators?

Don't be discouraged as people who don't understand the importance of testing. The purpose of testing is to implement a system or make changes with as little risk as possible, so that users can work as comfortably as possible. If you communicate that, you can often get people on board.

Anything else you want to say?

All of us on the test team are pretty much all critical and driven. In that respect, we find the cooperation with Testersuite very pleasant. They always think along with us as customers and you always include us in the plans. We find it a pleasant and well thought-out tool. We were impressed by the roadmap you presented at the user event. We are curious to see what you will come up with.

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