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Let's talk about test Belgium.... Tom Van Den Broeck

September 13, 2022
Profile picture Tom Van Den Broeck
Tom Van Den Broeck, functional management manager.

In this blog series, we speak with testers from various industries. At Testersuite we like to hear the various views on testing and what keeps a tester busy. In this edition, we cross borders and meet Tom Van Den Broeck, manager of functional management at Rode Kruis Vlaanderen.

 "You can't get lost in big administrative processes"

Just a heads up: who is Tom?

I'm Tom, 50 years young and I live in the inner city of the beautiful historical city of Mechelen. By the way, did you know that Mechelen was the capital of the Netherlands in the late 15th, early 16th century?

Besides my loves like reading, writing and cooking, I also have a love for Scandinavia. It is my favorite vacation destination. That's why I started learning Swedish and I manage quite well.

Did you want to be a tester in grade school?

No. I do have to say that my childhood was accompanied by the rise of the home computer. I grew up with the Tandy TRS-80 and Commodore 64. I bought these devices with my hard-earned pocket money and thus took my first steps in IT.

At the University of Leuven I started studying computer science. At that time it was still strongly linked to mathematics which also appealed to me.

Computer science was then the only field for which you didn't need a computer at home. Of course, we had them in college but we still did everything "old school.  

Now I only notice what a broad background this study has given me. Especially when I try to explain certain processes to colleagues.

How did you get into the testing business?

After graduation I worked as a database developer at a direct marketing company. There we managed databases of external companies from the automotive industry but also for the World Wildlife Fund and Red Cross Flanders.  

I later moved into the corner of CRM consulting. For much of my consulting period, I worked with Microsoft CRM. There, testing emerged as one of the big topics. We were using the Quality Center tool at the time but it is far too complex and less intuitive as Testersuite.


"Be aware that you have a limited amount of time to test"

How has the testing process developed at Red Cross Flanders?

As functional management manager, I am also responsible for testing. The functional management team has been in existence for four years and had just been formed when I started at Red Cross Flanders.

The guiding principles for functional management are professionalization, automation and standardization. At one point I thought "what about the testing process? My manager pointed me to a training course in structured testing that she had received an email about. I was the first Belgian to follow this training in Nieuwegein.  

I like the pragmatic approach I learned in the training. You have to create a test process that is useful. You cannot get lost in large administrative processes. Be aware that you only have a limited amount of time to test.

I then started to focus on the question of how we could give testing at Red Cross Flanders a clearer place. My manager and I did have some experience with test tools, but these are mainly the heavier applications that you don't just implement. Via the structured testing training we ended up at Testersuite .

We started with the FREE model. That gave us the opportunity to gain experience. Soon we became enamored and went to the paid PRO version.

You make the testing process visible with Testersuite . For example, from our ambassador function we were able to take the business along in an awareness-raising process. Through this you make clear what their role is within the testing process. This goes by trial and error.


Where do you think the challenges lie in coordinating test execution? 

How do you integrate testing? We don't have a testing coordinator right now. We are looking into that though and are in contact with Salves about it.

We put the responsibility for user acceptance testing on the business. That opportunity is not being taken advantage of enough. If the business gives reasons for not doing it then we accept that now.


How do you deal with this in practice?

We are happy that the core is in order. We can't block the user acceptance test if it's not done. But this does not usually lead to issues. We still have a way to go. We need more guidance.

Because we deal with processing of donor blood, we have rigid processes and quality system. We validate a lot of tests heavily which has created an aversion to testing. We still need to change our mindset on that.

We also started a process to set up regression testing. Testersuite is ideal for regression testing. We do not yet have that in place for our critical systems and Salves is helping us with that. We are a learning organization when it comes to testing.

This leaves plenty of questions. Do I need one or more testers or test coordinators? How can I best shape that? Is test automation an option? We will investigate this next year.


"The tool helped us put down the process"

What 'milestones' have you achieved at Red Cross Flanders?

The first "milestone" was just being able to intuitively start the testing process already through Testersuite. The tool helped us get the process down. The FREE version gave us the opportunity and time to do that. It seems like a small step but it was very refreshing. We could build the story internally and experiment.

The second milestone was that we convinced upper management about the Testersuite tool and were therefore able to upgrade to PRO. Since the process works, upper management easily agreed to upgrade to PREMIUM which we are now using.

The third milestone is that we are now using Testersuite in a major project outside our service. This is a validation project of a major development that Red Cross Flanders is doing. So it is not only functional management but also other departments that are going to use Testersuite . The business is therefore automatically drawn into Testersuite.


What problem does Testersuite solve for you?

Testersuite is a tool that you can deploy easily, intuitively and no nonsense. In addition, you guys are always helping us with tips and tricks or an additional demo when we ask for it. Contact with the Testersuite Team is easy and smooth.


A critical question from the Testersuite team. Where do you see opportunity for improvement?

I think this is a difficult question. Something I would like to see is the ability to do an overall report.


What is your advice to other test managers?

If you don't have a test tool yet, just try Testersuite FREE. Don't hesitate to get started with it. Getting started with it will help you find and shape your own path. Then you can always decide for yourself if Testersuite is "the way to go.

Anything else you want to say

With heavy procurement processes, I waste time where I could have otherwise learned. With Testersuite Free, I can start right away. It feels good enough for now and secure enough to try because it's free. With the paid versions, you keep growing in test knowledge and therefore it remains good enough for now and secure enough to try.

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