ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119 Faces Objections

As a member of the UK Mirror Panel to WG26, which is responsible for the ISO 29119 standard, I am disappointed to read of the objection to the standard led by the International Society for Software Testing, which has resulted in a formal petition to ISO.

I respectfully suggest that their objections would be more effective if they engaged with their respective national bodies, and sought to overcome their objections, constructively.

People who are opposing ISO 29119 claim:

  1. It is costly
  2. It will be seen as mandatory skill for testers (which may harm individuality and freedom)
  3. It may reduce the ability to experiment and try non-conventional ways
  4. Once the standard is accepted, testers can be held responsible for project failures (or non-compliance)
  5. Effort will be more on documentation and process rather than testing

Let us consider each of these in turn:

Costly

Opponents object to this standard because it is not freely available.

While this is a fair point, it is no different from every other standard that is in place – and which companies follow, often because it gives them a competitive advantage.

Personally, I would like to see more standards placed freely in the public domain, but I am not in a position to do it!

Mandatory

Opponents claim this standard will be seen as mandatory skill for testers (which may harm individuality and freedom).

ISO 29119 replaces a number of IEEE and British standards that have been in place for many years. And while those standards are seen to represent best practice, they have not been mandatory.

Experimentation

A formal testing environment should be a place where processes and procedures are in place, and is not one where "experiment and non-conventional" methods are put in place.  But having said that, there is nothing within ISO 29199 that prevents other methods being used. 

Accountability

Opponents claim that, once the standard is accepted, testers can be held responsible for project failures (or non-compliance).

As with any process or procedure, all staff are required to ensure comliance with the company manual – and project managers should be managing their projects to ensure that al lstaff are doing so.

Whether complying with ISO 29119 or any other standard or process, completion of testing and signing off as "passed" carries accountability.  This standard does not change that.

Documentation

Opponents claim that effort will be more on documentation and process rather than testing.

I fail to understand this line of reasoning – any formal test regime requires a test specification, test cases and recorded test results.  And the evidence produced by those results need arguement.  None of this is possible with documentation.

Conclusion

Someone wise once said:

  • Argument without Evidence is unfounded
  • Evidence without Argument is unexplained

 

Having considered the argument put forward, and the evidence to support the case:

  • The evidence is circumstantial with no coherence
  • The argument is weak, and seems only to support their vested interests

For a body that represents test engineers, I would have expected better.

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