Few days back, through a testing contest got to know about a testing standard i.e. ISO 29119. Coming from Quality and testing background curiosity took over me and drove me to make an honest attempt to see what this standard is all about and why is so much debate? (even James Bach whom I admire the most has also blogged about this standard). Midway through the read about standard felt as if this standard is going to kill all the freedom and creativity from my work. Here is what I understand from the notorious long documentation of the ISO 29119.
Additionally to the above five different categories, ISO 29119 has also brings a process model called ‘Process Assessment model’ which talks and defines how to perform process assessments.
During the time I was writing all this stuff on the standard, it reminded me of an often argument that I have with development colleagues of mine; that development is all about sticking to requirement, specification, developing accordingly and nothing more but while in testing there is no standard way to perform software testing. Testing gives freedom and creativity to explore the product and form your own journey and during this journey of testing you learn about product, its function, its advantages, its shortcomings etc but ISO 29119 is killing all of this.
As a professional software tester I believe,
- That standards compliance is no substitute for knowledge and skills, and that possessing a certificate demonstrates neither.
- There is no such process called best practice as best practice will make you a part of the herd and not innovating and leading the pack,standards will limit the quality of the solution or product or service you are involved.
- Testing benefits from diversity and not homogeneity, that testing is not a profession that can be standardized but instead needs to remain an intellectual professional activity
- Organizations that use certification as a surrogate for rigorous selection processes places the quality of their testing at risk.
- Organization who make money from creating or promoting standards and certifications are biased in their thinking by the potential financial rewards of convincing organizations that only certified testers are professional testers. Those organizations may include those who sell training, consulting or other related services.
So what’s problem with ISO 29119 standard ?
- There is no standard way to test software. As testers, we learn and adapt to the context in which software is made, there no one way to test software.
- ISO 29119 requires a commitment to heavy, advanced documentation. In practice, this documentation effort is largely wasted and serves as a distraction from useful preparation for testing.
- There is no consensus; ISO 29119 ignores many leading authors, pioneers, respected names in the area of software testing as they are from different school of thinking. You could see in the reference section of this post most top testing names have opposed ISO 29119. Any way you look at it, there is no consensus.
- Hampers collaboration in multi-disciplinary teams, imagine a Tester in Scrum team who follows the rules and guidelines of ISO 29119 while the rest of the team marches on, will this not affect the collaboration? Will the tester fit in the team anymore?
- Where is the proof that this "standard" works any better than, did anyone even *test* the theories that support this "standard"?
- ISO 29119 focus is on the terminologies, artifacts, definitions and the process model while de-center the most important part of any testing effort i.e. the skill set and the mindset of the individual tester.
- Field of software testing has yet not reached its peak, there is so much more to learn, so many more situations to understand,many more techniques to discover. ISO Standards will put a spanner to all these things.
There are many more things that are detrimental to software testing from this proposed ISO 29119 Standard as evident from many blogs and petition which has hundreds of signatures already.This blog post along with signing of petition puts me on record as opposing the ISO 29119 standard.
For those who agree, here are few hints:
For those who agree, here are few hints:
More on ISO 29119
- ISO / ICE / IEEE 29119 Software Testing
- Part 1 – Concepts & Definitions
- Part 2 – Test Processes
- Part 3 – Test Documentation
- Part 4 – Test Techniques
- Part 5 – Keyword-Driven Testing
- The standard explained: The Art of Software Testing Standards – Jon Hagar
- White paper: The New International Software Testing Standards – Stuart Reid
- James Christie’s original CAST talk and his blog post
- Karen Johnson’s thoughts on certifications
- Cem Kaner on stopping ISO 29119
- James Bach on stopping ISO 29119
- Cynefin, testing & auditing – James Christie
- Michael Bolton here and here
- ISO 29119 and “best practice”; a confused mess – James Christie
- ISO 29119 Roundtable Discussion – Part I – Part 2 – Part 3
- My Thoughts on Testing Certifications – Karen Johnson
- The Petition to Stop ISO 29119 – Keith Klain
- An open letter to the President of the International Organization for Standardization about ISO 29119 – Pradeep Soundararajan
- Petition to stop ISO 29119 – House Of Test
- Petition to Stop ISO 29119 – Pretty Good Testing
- More references and blogs here