Feature Interview: SpecFlow Training Partner Info Support

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Gert Jan Timmerman, Manager of the Knowledge Center at Info Support

Gert Jan Timmerman, Manager of Knowledge Center at Info Support

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Info Support from the Netherlands is the first certified SpecFlow Training partner (Dutch press release) and Info Support’s first SpecFlow training course will be held in the Netherlands in January 2016. In this interview, Gert Jan Timmerman, Manager of Knowledge Center at Info Support, talks about the company, how they use SpecFlow internally, and the agile community in the Netherlands.

Can you tell us a little bit about Info Support? When was Info Support founded and how many Employees do you have today?

Info Support was founded in 1986, so we are celebrating our 30th anniversary next year. It was founded by the person who is still the sole owner and CEO of the company. He founded the company on his own, and hired more people as the company grew. Right now, Info Support has close to 400 employees. The main service we provide to our customers is building custom software to support their business processes.

How is Info Support structured? What are the main business units?

Info Support has four business units that are structured vertically (along vertical markets): Finance (financial institutes like banks), Healthcare and Insurance, Trade & Industry, and Government. We also have some horizontal competency centres, e.g. Business Intelligence, Knowledge Center (training) and Managed IT Services (hosting and support). The horizontal competency centres provide services to customers of the business units (across the business units). The Knowledge Center is the department I am responsible for.

Can you name a few recent projects and customers and give us an idea of what you develop for them?

We are building an application for the Dutch national railway (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) to help them schedule the trains (in Dutch) and a mobile app for staff on the trains that provides them with information. We are building a mobile app for the ING bank that allows customers to access their accounts and have created the website for an association of house owners (in Dutch).

How long has Info Support been applying agile methods and practices?

We used RUP for several years (since 2000) and gradually moved to Scrum (since 2008). At first we combined the two, but for the last 3 or 4 years we have just used Scrum, focussing on DevOps and Continuous Delivery.

How did you learn about SpecFlow and how do you use it at Info Support?

Although our main service is building custom software for our customers, we also have some continuous internal development projects running. For one of these projects we spent quite some time looking for a suitable way to bring the team members responsible for specification and our developers closer together. After settling on Specification by Example, it was just a matter of finding the proper tool. Since our Java division already had some experience with Cucumber, it was a natural choice to take a look at the .NET equivalent…

After using SpecFlow for our internal .NET projects we were soon so enthusiastic that we started using it in projects where we collaborated with our customers. We use SpecFlow to facilitate Acceptance Test Driven Development in most external projects to ensure that the Product Owner’s wishes are clearly understood by the implementation teams.

We use SpecFlow internally to develop our knowNow knowledge management platform, which allows our Product Owner to clearly define his acceptance criteria. At our sister company De Vries WFM, we even use SpecFlow as a means of creating “living” documentation, which both tests our software and provides insight into the functionality through all layers of the organisation.

What are the biggest Dutch events, conferences and meet-ups for the agile community?

We have the J-Fall for Java-programmers, TechDays for Microsoft developers and LAC for Architects. In 2016, Scrum Day Europe will be held in Amsterdam.

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