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

September 13, 2022
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 visions on testing and what keeps a tester busy. In this edition we cross the borders and meet Tom Van Den Broeck, functional management manager 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 a more prominent place at Rode Kruis Vlaanderen. My manager and I had some experience with test tools but these were mainly the heavier applications that you don't implement just like that. 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 . In this way we were able to take the business into an awareness-raising trajectory from our ambassador role. Through this you make clear what their role is within the testing process. This goes with 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 have also started a project to set up regression testing. Testersuite is ideal for regression testing. We haven't got that sorted out yet for our critical systems and Salves is helping us with that. We are a learning organisation 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 put 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 to use the Testersuite tool and therefore were 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 will be using Testersuite . The business is therefore automatically included in Testersuite.


What problem does Testersuite solve for you?

Testersuite is a tool that you can use easily, intuitively and no nonsense. In addition, you always help us with tips and tricks or an extra demo when we ask for it. The contact with the Testersuite Team is easy and smooth.


A critical question from the Testersuite team. Where do you see opportunities 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 testing tool yet, just try Testersuite FREE. Don't hesitate to get started with it. By getting started with it, you can 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 learned otherwise. With Testersuite Free, I can start right away. It feels good enough for now and safe 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 safe enough to try.

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