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Let's talk about test... Peter Smit

October 9, 2018
Peter Smit, test manager at Radboudumc
Peter Smit, Test manager

"Make sure you have a good change process! Then the rest will come naturally."

In this blog series, we speak with test managers and test coordinators from various industries. At Testersuite , we like to hear the various views on testing and what concerns a test manager or test coordinator. Meet Peter Smit, Test Manager at Radboudumc.

Just a heads up: Who is Peter?

My name is Peter Smit and I am 58 years old. I have an academic degree in agricultural engineering from Wageningen University and Research. I have been working for Radboud UMC for 29 years and hold the position of test manager.

Did you want to become a test manager as a child?

No, certainly not. My parents had a farm in the north of Holland. After my secondary school education, I hesitated between political science and agricultural science. In the end, I chose the Agricultural University of Wageningen, as it was called at the time.

IT did not exist yet and there was no Internet or mobile telephony. From the time I was about 17/18 years old, IT entered society and studies.

Okay, but how did you end up in IT?

I graduated in 1985 and at the time applied for many jobs in agricultural research, unfortunately without success. Like so many academics who couldn't find work in those days, I was offered a conversion to IT by the UWV. I was in the training together with political scientists, sociologists, etc..... It was a lot of fun.

Did you start working at Radboud UMC immediately after your retraining?

Yes, in ICT Advice and Support. We supported employees in using Wordperfect, PlanPerfect (spreadsheet) and dBase3. But we also solved printer problems. Also very nice was giving courses in computer use with as an important part the storage of texts on disks, folders and in files.

How did you end up in the role of test manager?

After that first period, I switched to functional management of the Electronic Patients File (EPD). That was in 1996. Back then, the EPD was mainly a system for the administration of patients, appointments, admissions and operations. It provided little or no support for the care process. This has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Now, patient care can no longer be provided without our EPD. Moreover, the information in our EPD is also used for research and education.

That means a lot of testing!

Yes, a patient comes for treatment and wants it to go well. This means that employees must be facilitated as well as possible. And the EPD plays an important role in this. It is a system that is used by all specialisms and treatment processes. The trick is to make the system fit in as naturally as possible with the care and treatment provided in practice. Of course, the system must not contain any errors.

A good example is that nowadays we can already enter patient data into the system from the ambulance. So when they arrive at the hospital, they know who the patient is and what needs to be done. You have to have tested this properly if you want to prevent problems.

"The test manager must have a controlled process to perform tests."

So this means you must have a mature testing process?

As an IT organisation, it is very important to have a good change process in which the testing process is embedded.

How did you implement that?

It's actually a natural process because the IT staff at Radboud UMC were already test minded . We also get that accepted by the business because they expect this way of working from us. It helps in the preparation and execution of tests and later you can (show) which tests have been performed and what the result was. A testing tool like Testersuite is indispensable for this.

So you include users in your testing process?

Yes, as much as possible. That way, you also get users on board with the system changes that are underway. Users appreciate being involved in the change process. Certainly if they have a previous experience in which this did not happen.

As test manager, I therefore also have a large network outside our IT department. And that is very useful in many situations.

What does Testersuite mean to you?

Testersuite is an important tool for us. It helps us prepare and execute tests. In addition, the tool solves the problem of finding test information. No more chaos with Sharepoint, Excel and/or other systems. Testersuite is our source of test management information and test information. We keep a grip and insight on the testing process while documenting everything. We have really already achieved a lot with Testersuite.

What do you think of Testersuite 's link to TOPdesk?

We use TOPdesk for our incident and change process. TOPdesk contains the changes, for which we have to prepare and execute tests in Testersuite. The standard link between Testersuite and TOPdesk is therefore highly desirable and we expect to get that done this fall.

What is the biggest problem of the test manager in the healthcare sector?

I don't see it as a problem, but more as a fact. ICT has become indispensable in healthcare and of great complexity. Changes must be tested before they can be taken into production. Problems with the EPD can have major consequences for patients.
The ICT department must therefore have a controlled process for realising system changes and performing tests that show that the quality of the system can be guaranteed. And then, of course, it cannot stop at words alone. The ICT staff must find it important to work this way and be supported by useful tools.

"You can't test everything automatically."

Is there a future for automated testing?

This is a bit double. We have some experience with Tosca and want to grow in it. On the other hand, we have noticed that automated testing strongly depends on the application you want to test. The application must be written really 'cleanly', otherwise the test tool will not work properly. For example, we cannot properly test a number of important applications automatically using Tosca. What we are now testing automatically is our new website. To achieve that, we built the website with automated testing in mind. But that has been a bit of a challenge.

Exploratory testing remains important because you can't "see" everything with automated testing. But the main goal is still to capture a good test. If you do this with Testersuite and then can run it automated then you have really accomplished something.

What does the future look like for the test manager?

Rose-coloured! No problem at all. There is so much need for this. An automated testing tool tests, but does not organise, that remains human work.

What is your advice to other test managers?

Make sure you have a good change process in which the test process is anchored. If that is not up to scratch, you can forget it as a test manager too. What is the change and what is the impact of the change on the 'system chain'? Make sure you know how it is put together. Know how it is used, who the administrators are and how the systems hang together. You must have your information sources in order. That is where the most important profit lies and that is where the greatest effort must be made. These are basics, but very difficult to implement well. Documentation, documentation and more documentation. Think about your CMDB!

The last word...

Test manager is one of the nicest jobs in IT. You meet IT people and super users in your organisation. Very diverse. You easily get the feeling of what you are doing it for and what you are on earth for.

Do you have interesting experiences in the testing profession that you would like to share? Let's talk!

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