“A system that people work with must also be workable for people.”
In this blog series we speak with test managers and test coordinators from various branches. At Testersuite we would like to hear the different views in the field of testing and what concerns a test manager or test coordinator. In this edition of Let’s Talk About Test, meet Robert van Hooff, PTWEE test manager at NIBC.
Just a heads up: Who is Robert?
My name is Robert and I am 50. I live with my wife and three children in Bleiswijk, near the river Rotte where we often walk with the dog. My daughters are 13 and 18. My son is 20 and will probably do an IT training.
Bleiswijk? So then you are probably Feyenoord supporter?
Sure I am!
Did you want to become a test coordinator as a child?
No no no. In my childhood I wanted to become a pilot. During puberty there was the idea to become a cook. My interest in cooking started to grow. This became a hobby of mine.
After high school I started doing the heao. I could choose between the HES Rotterdam and HES Amsterdam. As a resident of The Hague, you naturally opt for quality and therefore for Rotterdam. From my great preference for languages (English, German and French) I opted for International Management. In addition to the economic and financial courses, this course also consisted of languages. I completed my internship in Ludwigshafen (Germany).
From PTWEE I recently did an assignment for which I ended up in Frankfurt. There I tested a new digital workplace with German colleagues. The official language at the Dutch branch is English. So there too, I am in good shape with regard to languages.
“I used Wordperfect 5.1 and Lotus 123 for this.”
How did you end up in IT?
After my studies I had to to do military service. We were the last class (93-3) of conscripts. The military service lasted 10 months because the military service was abolished on 1 January. The cold war had come to an end and the Materiel Directorate had a lot of surplus ammunition. This had to be dismantled. It was my job to do an international (so again languages) procurement research. The aim was to select a party that could professionally dispose of the ammunition at lower costs. For this I used the then available applications.
During my time at COA in Rijswijk, I started as a staff information officer. My task was to collect all management information that the central management needed. For this I used Wordperfect 5.1, Lotus 123 and Harvard Graphics, which was the standard at the time. I optimized that and it ensured that I quickly became known as the brain for information provision. They saw that I liked it and had a talent for it.
Soon there was a demand for support for an existing customized system in which all information from the reception centers and the residents were stored. I was allowed to coordinate that as a functional management coordinator. Once a month I organized a meeting with super users. This resulted in functional wishes, we determined the prioritization and we assessed the impact for IT. Then with the release we started doing the first tests.
“A system must do what it promises.”
Ah, so testing came your way?
Yes indeed. I have a strong belief that a system that people work with should also be workable for people. The system must do what it promises. Efficient, user-friendly and simple. People must be happy with the tool with which they work. IT is an enabler towards the business. New technological developments are interesting, but too often there is a large gap between the range of functionalities and what one really needs. End users often have difficulty expressing what they need in terms of functionality. The IT used must above all be usable and support end users for optimum results. Closing that gap is what I constantly go for in my career.
What are your challenges as a Test Manager?
Be ready on time! You cannot be involved early enough as a test manager (based on quality assurance) in projects. Make objectives as smart as possible. Determine your requirements as early as possible in the process. Ask yourself right away can I test this with administrators and users? I want to see how it will be used in the future. If I cannot do that, I will ask questions and challenge people. The bank that I work for now has a high regard for the quality of its IT. Fortunately, there is a need for early involvement of test managers in important IT developments.
We recently started a new Salesforce project for which the contract has just been signed. The first question is what exactly has been contracted? What are we going to do with that party and in which order? How do you keep things intact? You are never in a greenfield situation because the store must remain open. You cannot release something in splendid isolation without taking the landscape into account. You have to take into account processes, migrations, integrations, security, compliance, etc … you name it. More and more demands are being made on this.
What are the most important milestones that you have achieved at the bank?
The most important thing is that we have implemented a new digital workplace concept where hardly any incidents occurred during the rollout. The management of the various branches has expressed its compliments for the silent rollout. The management of the IT supplier has indicated that it has not previously done a rollout for a customer with so few incidents. That was a nice compliment to get. That’s what you do it for.
Also important to mention is the use of quality gates. The user acceptance test is the ultimate test. I sometimes had to advise to postpone live courses because the quality criteria were not met. The advice was taken over by the management. Testersuite helped me a lot to be able to provide an actual substantiation based on findings, defects and acceptance criteria.
“I’m glad we did this with Testersuite because I could prove everything.”
What role did Testersuite play in this?
The project involved around 140 client applications, a comparable number of business applications, various peripherals, new networks, server environments, you name it. Testersuite helped with making a product / risk analysis. We have tested with end users, some of whom have never tested in a structured way. Making these people work in Testersuite went very smoothly. This made it very easy to justify what we had tested and what the results were.
A nice benefit of Testersuite is that, in addition to being simple and complete, it also has a good audit trail. I just did a project where we are audited. I’m glad we did this with Testersuite because I could prove everything.
What does the future look like for the test manager?
I think the next step is test automation. As an organization you have to be ready for that. This makes work easier for testers and the test organization with repetitive test cases. As a result, the work of the test manager shifts more to analyzing. Why do I always get the same findings at the same angle and how are we going to solve this structurally?
Is test automation not actually automation within testing?
That’s right. I was also triggered by that statement earlier. Analysis also means that you initially have to test manually again to see if your analysis is correct and how can you convert it back to a regression test set. In addition, you cannot test everything automatically.
A critical question from the Testersuite Team, what could be better?
The reporting option in Testersuite has been greatly improved. It would be nice if we could also record a release recommendation in Testersuite. Then your entire test report, decision-making about it for quality gates and the audit trail are laid down in Testersuite.
What advice do you want to give starting young test managers?
Be yourself and always keep questioning things in a way that it is not threatening. Prevent yourself from being sidelined. Prepare things well with people so that it is no surprise what you are going to advise.
Some last words?
When I look back on my career, I see a common thread, always making quality solutions for the customer, regardless of which function.