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Let's talk about test... René Terbijhe

June 10, 2024
René Terbije on a sailboat in a harbor.
René Terbijhe, test manager Waterschap Zuiderzeeland.

In the blog series Let's talk about test.... we like to hear the diverse views of test professionals on testing and software quality. This time get to know René Terbijhe, test manager at Waterschap Zuiderzeeland.

"I always say work is not work until you have a ticket," he said.

Who is René?

I am René and by now fifty-nine years old. Together with my wife Petra I live in green Lelystad. We have two grown-up daughters, both of whom have now left home.

Besides my work, I like to be involved in outdoor play. I am an enthusiastic rower. I also enjoy sailing, canoeing, biking and hiking with our dog Lavie.  

Did you want to become a test manager in primary school?

No, IT didn't exist for me back then. I was also playing outside back then; including working for a farmer around the corner. That work will come later when I grow up I thought.

So how did you get into the testing profession?

I have worked in IT for over thirty years. Of these, I did IT management consulting and IT auditing for many years. In recent years, my focus was on IT security. During that time, I saw and did a lot but often felt misunderstood. More and more I wondered why people are different from me and why people say I think black and white?

When I was fifty-three years old I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It had been clear to me for some time that I was different, but I was so upset by the diagnosis that I ended up in the WIA through the Sickness Benefits Act. I also lost my job.

"Now that I've also taken theory to heart, I like the testing profession even more."

People with autism are often good testers!

That's right. Being in control of things and being able to grasp things is ideal for autistic people. In fact, I get crabby when things are done just like that.

Through a job coach I ended up at Waterschap Zuiderzeeland to reintegrate. The IT manager looked at my strengths and was confident that I would regain my balance. I have now had a permanent job as change manager/test manager for over three years.

Last year I successfully completed the abbreviated college program in Test Management at NTI. Now that I have also taken in the theory, I like the testing profession even more.

Are you now in control of the testing process?

We like to make work easy and manageable. To achieve this, we have chosen the Integrated Service Management (ISM) approach. Testing is part of the Change Management process.

The structure of Testersuite fits very well within this methodology. Testersuite is based on TMAP which is a proven technique. It is mainly about simplicity in the process according to ISM and Testersuite also has that in it.

I always say work is not work until you have a ticket. Thinking in processes comes naturally to me; I often have to teach that to others. Then they say "there he is again with his rules" haha. Fortunately, I can communicate it well and simply.

Where is there another challenge for you?

The biggest challenge for us is specifying. By this I mean functionalities and risk analyses. Then comes what will you test and with what depth, but also what do you not need to test or only globally. In my opinion, this is the basis for testing.

I don't want to go so far as to say that we are just doing something, but in practice we suffer immensely. Creating proper and complete test cases doesn't actually succeed. In this we still need to take steps.

Another example: We have several drones and have 25 colleagues with a pilot's license. The drones are all made in China, so still fairly affordable. The question is where does our data go and how do the systems work? Will foreign powers soon have information about the status of our dikes and pumping stations, for example? These are things we need to be able to test. Again, this brings me to mapping the risks and properly specifying the test cases.

How do you deal with this?

Functional administrators still have little knowledge of the management and testing profession. Fortunately, IV experts are now catching up. In the fall, the training course "Structured Testing" by Dirk Janssen of Testersuite is also scheduled.

In any case, it's not because of the application Testersuite, because they are usually fine with that.

"Other water boards even come to see how we do this."

What milestone have you reached at Waterschap Zuiderzeeland

Within projects, testing is now routinely included. Especially on large projects such as personnel, financial or management systems. Then testing is very explicitly part of the project. Sometimes we spend six months doing testing work within a project. Other water boards even come to see how we do it.

What makes other water boards come to you?

As a public company, we have to deal with the Government Information Security Baseline (BIO). This is actually ISO 27000 and it requires you to be process-oriented. In this, we are the best boy in the class.

Government agencies must report to Biza (Ministry of Interior) to report how the BIO is being complied with. An external auditor also visits all water boards for inspection. In this way, information security officers share experiences with each other and hear about how we are doing here. Most water boards still need to grow more than we do. So they like to come and see how we do it. I always show them Testersuite .

What has Testersuite brought to the water board?

A clear and simple way to convey what testing is. The basics of Testersuite are clear, therefore as a theoretician I can explain it well to others.

An ERP system consists of modules. We do not make 1 project out of that, but tackle it per module in Testersuite. It fits within our process-oriented way of working. It is very easy to demonstrate in Testersuite what has been tested and what the results are. This also makes an auditor happy. You can easily show how you do it.

People get really excited about Testersuite. It helps to create simplicity and as you yourselves always say, simplicity is not always easy. The bi-weekly release of Testersuite is ideal for us. Manageable changes and well explained in the release notes. Ideal for myself and our people.

We are also very satisfied with your customer-success-manager Dirk. We can always go to him with questions. That makes us enthusiastic.

"Then they look at me funny, like what's Grandpa saying now..."

How do you see the future of the testing profession?

I expect a lot from requirement and risk management. Administrators now do not always think of all stakeholders, but rely mainly on their own knowledge and experience.

The future users already test with us, but don't always understand the test cases. This mismatch is not unexpected to me. I often tell young administrators to think about a plan before writing a test case. Then they look at me strangely, like what is grandpa saying now haha.

My reaction then is: Nice if you have 25 test cases but if you make 10 test cases that are thought through, then I am very satisfied. Risk analysis and functional basis is very important and one has to learn that.

Is there a future for testautomation at Waterschap Zuiderzeeland?

At some point this does come up. Manual testing we do now mostly in projects. Projects are always new situations and so you come back to specifying as I mentioned earlier. When a project is at a certain point, you can start automating parts. Manual testing and automated testing complement each other and thus coexist.

Testing is not like 'can you just do this'. No, it's a profession and something soon becomes a project.

"Make sure your administrators are working agile and that testing is part of that."

What is your advice to organizations regarding testing?

Testing is not a separate department with us. It is part of management. People do need to be able to turn to a specialist for advice. As test manager I am therefore the manager of Testersuite and the point of contact for questions. I also monitor the quality of the test work.

Make sure your administrators work agile and that testing is part of that.

What could be better in Testersuite?

With Testersuite you can test in several ways. However, it is also possible to incorporate your product risk analysis into Testersuite. The same goes for your entire test preparation such as scripting, scenarios, and defining requirements and test runs. For me, this could be more explicitly highlighted in separate modules making it truly a suite.

Anything else you want to say?

I find testing useful and important, only in my opinion it is only one link in a long chain. We talked earlier about specifying/establishing requirements. Building, for example, must also be done carefully.

We believe in all-rounders. This makes the work interesting and varied for them. They also have to resolve any incidents later on, so they themselves have a direct interest in making sure the changes are implemented properly.

Meanwhile, by the way, I have become a process manager for all ISM processes, so I have also become an all-rounder.

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