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Let's talk about test... Trea Bleker

February 1, 2023
Trea Bleker profile picture
Trea Bleker, Test Coordinator.

In this blog series, we speak with testing professionals from a variety of industries. At Testersuite , we like to hear the diverse views on testing and what makes a test consultant or test coordinator tick. In this edition of Let's Talk About Test, meet Trea Bleker, Test Coordinator Municipality of Groningen (via Sogeti).

"The role of test manager is coming back more."

Just a heads up: who is Trea?

So that's me. I live in Roden, Drenthe, with my husband. My two children study and live semi-home. Depends on what they need. Originally I also come from Roden. Of course I have also lived in other places like during my studies. I also lived in Belgium but eventually returned to Roden. Back to my roots.

As a Drenth, I work a lot with Groningers and Frisians which are all nice people. I make no distinction about that. I don't participate in compartmentalizing.

Did you want to be a tester in grade school?

No ya, IT didn't exist back then. I thought it would be fun to become a librarian or a lab assistant. However, that requires patience and I don't have that. It wasn't until high school that I got the idea to do something with IT. We had computers at school but in the end I didn't do anything with them. I don't know why.

I started studying at the WUR. There I studied plant breeding. There I came into contact with IT a bit. Part of this study was that you had to learn to program in Pascal. You had the Atari and Commodore back then. It was important to save everything properly or you would lose everything. That sometimes went wrong. But anyway, anything was better than working things out with a typewriter.

How did you get into IT?

With my husband, I moved to Belgium. I was doing something with quality systems at the time but had a hard time finding work. I then learned to program in Cobol. I am not a real developer. So I went into functional design at a secondment agency.

There I did a lot of data conversions. At the time of the introduction of the euro, I was also euro coordinator. Belgian Francs had to be converted to euros in databases (Francs had fewer decimal places). I had to coordinate various teams.

When did you encounter testing?

In 2003 I was seconded to a payroll processing company which was building a completely new package. When it went into production the invoicing process went wrong. This, of course, was the core business of the organization and that hit hard. I then wondered why this had gone wrong. Why was there no structure or plan for testing?

A friend of mine inNetherlands worked at Sogeti and that's how I ended up there. We wanted to return to the Netherlands at that time anyway. At Sogeti I did a three-day internal training in testing and a world opened up for me. Everything seemed so logical but just figure it out for yourself. Why didn't we figure it out ourselves? Testing fascinated me immediately and it still does. I haven't gotten out of it since.

"Testing is my thing I always say."

So the testing profession appears to be a good fit for you?

Testing is my thing I always say. In the agile world I see the testing logic disappearing again due to the lack of structure. I do find that worrisome. Fortunately, the role of test coordinator/manager is coming back in agile companies because they have realized that structure and assurance is needed.

As the only tester on an agile team, you have a hard time sometimes. Technical testing is nice for developers but functional testing is something else. Automating testing is nice and test coverage is important but at a certain point you can also test too much and lose the simple techniques. These basic things are very important.

What do you consider to be the challenges of a test coordinator? 

Most people I meet immediately start talking about test automation. Profit in terms of money and time is not going to get you there. It is and remains something expensive and it shifts tasks. At the municipality of Groningen, it is difficult to find something you can test automatically. You also have to manage a test automation tool and that costs time and money. Making this clear is quite a challenge

Another challenge is to professionalize testing and take that to the next level. That is what we are trying to achieve at the municipality of Groningen. A good example is the use of Testersuite. This allows us to demonstrate and secure a lot. Of course, the challenge is different for each company.

How do you deal with this in practice?

My way hahaha... I try to create structure and take small steps in a pragmatic way, tailored to the organization you are in. Focus mainly on helping people. The human aspect is important.

"I'm proud of the functional managers," he said.

What "milestones" have you achieved at Groningen municipality?

We are setting up the testing process and want to embed it in the change process. That is going well. The testing of major changes is also already working very well and Testersuite really helps with that. The project leaders can see the progress well and are really happy with that.

Testersuite helps put the structure in place, get a grip and secure things. We are slowly building it out by offering things in manageable chunks in Testersuite . We have made many functional administrators in Testersuite test coordinator. They now create test cycles and test cases themselves and enjoy doing so. I am proud of the functional administrators. They do that very well.

We also try to customize as little as possible. We have quite a few teams in Testersuite. All we've done is add two statuses to the defects and a reference field for a customer number or user story. You don't want a proliferation of statuses and other things. I'm strict about that. It really has to add something for us to apply customization.

What problem does Testersuite solve for you?

Bringing structure, creating insight, portability and control over the testing process. We are now going to link ServiceNow and Testersuite . Then you are going to get a grip on all the changes and thus the whole process of change and release.

With a new release, you still want to do a regression test. Which is not to say we don't do it now. But it's nice that soon the internal auditor will also be able to check this because it's in Testersuite .

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

Sometimes I see that people need a brief instruction if they don't work much with Testersuite . For me, everything is clear because I also work with it a lot. Eventually they get used to it quickly as well.

The test coordinator can retrieve regression test sets from the master list in his test cycle . In the future, it would be nice if the test coordinator could also access the master list directly.

"Testing is a profession, let's not forget that above all."

What does the future of testing look like?

The role of test manager is coming back more. From Sogeti, I see that happening. In addition, I think/hope that test automation is no longer the first thing people start talking about when they talk about testing. You really have to think carefully about what you want to automate and especially why. It is applicable for companies but not for every company.

I have worked with numerous testautomation tools and that has given me these insights. You will also need to continue to test by hand.

Testing is a profession, let's not forget that above all. I prefer to talk about terms like risk, commitment, test data, test process, knowledge assurance, test design, test techniques and test professionalization. There is still a lot to be gained there.

What is your advice to other test managers?

Testing and test management is and remains a beautiful profession but one may experience that for oneself.

Anything else you want to say?

A few pounds, hahaha.


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