top of page

Testimonial from IDEWE about our collaboration

“Passwerk is very pleased to announce that since the start of 2021 we have a new collaboration with IDEWE. In a nutshell, as the largest external service for accident prevention and safety in Belgium, IDEWE ensures a safe and healthy work environment for 35,000 employers and 750,000 employees. A fantastic collaboration where our consultant Koen is working as a test engineer. Here is an interview with Kris Brys (ICT Software Engineer, IDEWE) about his experiences collaborating with Passwerk.

Kris, what was your motivation for starting the collaboration with Passwerk?

Because more and more links between systems are being made in software development, it is becoming more important to test more often, and testing is becoming more of a necessity and a much more complex situation. To be able to continue guaranteeing the quality, we must, just like other companies, test more and more often. This meant we needed more test automation. Because I am expanding this automation, I would have less time to carry out the test cases and exploratory tests, the latter being particularly time consuming. It became clear quite quickly that we needed to expand our team.

I had heard the experiences from a Passwerk employee previously, and when we were looking for a new team member, I proposed the idea of using Passwerk at IDEWE. One of the reasons is that Passwerk also uses the ISTQB standard, where I learned the foundations of testing myself. That means we use the same terms and have the same vision, so we're on the same page right from the start, independent of the technology. In addition to the fact that we see the positive characteristics of autism as an added value in testing, the social importance of a business such as Passwerk was certainly an extra reason for choosing Passwerk.

Autism is very familiar to me because it is part of my immediate, everyday environment. So I saw autism more as a set of characteristics and not as a ‘disorder’ as it is often described.

IDEWE had apparently worked with Passwerk previously, which did no go entirely as planned because at that time there was no one at IDEWE who could commit to and invest enough time in the project. At that time, functional testing was spread out among various people and departments, there were no test management tools being used at IDEWE and there was no SPOC (Single Point Of Contact) available. In short, it was not an ideal climate due to a lack of structure in testing. A lack of structure in testing would be a hindrance for any external party carrying out tests, but I can imagine that this is even more difficult for people with autism. There have been quite a few changes here at IDEWE in the past few years, such as the implementation of a test management tool Xray, which is linked to other tools of the development team, such as Jira and Confluence. In Xray, we created test scripts in advance, each with the steps that must be carried out and the expected results. I prepare a planned test execution for what Koen still needs to test and I can discuss the deviating results with Koen afterwards. There is also a clear overview for me of what has already been tested. With these structural changes and the necessary commitment, IDEWE saw that this project now had a much better chance of succeeding, so IDEWE gave the green light to start the project.

What work does Koen currently do?

In the beginning, Koen carried out manual tests that we had scripted in advance. This allowed him to gain experience with the rather complex application landscape within IDEWE and become familiar with the applications while testing. Later, Koen began exploratory testing as well as maintaining and creating test scripts. We've recently started adding a larger number of applications to his test process.

Koen let us know he was interested in automation. In the coming months, we will also be having Koen carry out more automated tests and monitor the results.

How did Koen's integration into the team and his start go the first few weeks?

Due to Covid-19, the integration process did no go as we had hoped, but I think we made the best of the situation. The first few days, we worked in the offices at IDEWE so he could get to know the company, get to know me, at least see a bit of the company culture. It's important to me that even in these times a new employee knows who they are working for, even though the months afterwards they will be working from home. A great deal of explanation was given in those first few days so that he could work from home in the second week. But of course we bridge the gap with the necessary online consultations.

Passwerk had an info session for the team with more information about autism and what this meant for working together with Koen. This gave a lot of clarity to the immediate team. I myself am the SPOC and the majority of the communication is through me, but if I'm not available, Koen knows who to go to in the team. Koen participates in the Zoom stand-up meeting every morning where we discuss how the project is going, but there are also informal conversations, which are really important for the team spirit and motivation during this period of working from home.

What is your general feeling after 6 months of collaboration with Passwerk?

We only have positive things to say about these past 6 months. Koen learns very quickly and lets us know if something is unclear. Every two weeks we have a short consultation with Marijke (Passwerk coach) to discuss the collaboration. We have also really only given positive feedback during these conversations, but it is handy to know that if there is a problem that it can be discussed.

What precisely is Koen's added value?

Koen is quite tech-savvy. That was one of our wishes when looking for a suitable candidate. Certainly in this Covid-19 period when people are working from home, it takes quite a lot of effort to become familiar with the technical aspects and a technical background is a real advantage. Koen learns these things very fast and lets us know if something is unclear. He likes to learn and we can trust Koen with tasks and know that he will do his very best to complete them successfully. He always applies any feedback we give him about his reports.

It was also very useful for us to get a fresh view of our applications from someone who looks at things from a different angle. Seeing which things are experienced as less logical and where the necessary simplicity is lacking is really helpful to us. That is a reason for us to take another look at the complexity.

Koen also has an eye for detail, which is certainly a positive trait in testing.

What has your experience been like working with someone with autism?

Actually, I don't think we really notice much of the autism itself. I know that autism is not always visible and that its traits vary with each individual, so I never expected a stereotypical manifestation anyway.

I think Koen as a person fits well in the team. We make small adaptations that help Koen; he always has the same workplace. To filter out the noises from the surroundings, Koen uses noise-cancelling headphones. Koen also has ADD and I think this will become more evident when we start working in the office again. We know Koen has problems if there is no work on his desk, so we do our best to have backup-tasks ready so he can maintain his focus. I think that everyone in our team does their best to respect his character traits. The visible traits that are typical of autism can often be found in others who work in IT, although less prominent and less complex. But I certainly in no way mean to minimise the fundamental differences in people with autism, which are often invisible. I am very aware that autism means a fundamentally different form of observation and processing stimuli, but in the daily contact during work this is most certainly not always an obstacle for good collaboration.

What is your experience with Passwerk's job coach model?

For us, the job coach is useful because we know who to contact if there is a problem. I also find it very positive that the job coach checks with Koen if certain changes are OK for him and if things are clear enough Koen.

After your own experience, what would you say to decision makers from other businesses who are considering a collaboration with Passwerk?

I think implementing a particular method and structure in the testing landscape is a criterion for every successful QA. If you have this, then I think the chance of success in a collaboration with Passwerk is very high. Someone with autism needs that structural approach but whether or not you work with someone with autism, this is a criterion for every business that takes quality seriously, so you have the costs for setting up the structured testing landscape and the efforts this requires whether you collaborate with Passwerk or not. You really do need to have someone who can commit to the project and will take on the role of SPOC; that is also a request from Passwerk. Of course, it also has to click between the Passwerk consultant and the SPOC, but it's my impression that Passwerk knows how to put the right person on the right project.

Kris Brys

ICT Software Engineer


bottom of page