Stop29119 – the ongoing campaign

This page provides links to articles I’ve written as part of the on-going campaign against ISO 29119 after the initial flurry following the CAST 2014 conference in New York.

The first is about the stance of the audit profession towards testing standards. It followed a question at the Scottish Testing Group in Edinburgh. “What does the audit profession have to say about testing standards?”.

The second article “Why do we think we’re different”, was expanded from part of a talk I gave at Starwest 2014 in Los Angeles in October, and which I will be doing at Eurostar 2014 in Dublin at the end of November. I talk about why prescriptive processes and standards can be dangerous and counter-productive in software development and testing. They lead to goal displacement, and also promote “functional stupidity”. The underlying argument is that they don’t fit the way that people think and work in organisations.

The third article followed on directly from the second. JCD provided an interesting comment with a couple of points that deserved a considered reply, which I provided in “Too smart for checklists, and a consultants’ war?”.

In March 2015 I wrote this article “Standards – a charming illusion of action”, prompted by a question expressing doubt that standards would be used if they were ineffective. I argued that organisations are capable of adopting and persisting with processes and ways of working regardless of whether they actually work. The phrase “a charming illusion of action” comes from the British politician Rory Stewart talking about the UN’s efforts at rebuilding Afghanistan.

Every so often I am asked to write for a magazine or blog, and more often than not I agree. In 2015 I was asked by an online magazine to write about my opposition to ISO 29119. I agreed, but they didn’t use my article, so here it is; “Do we want to be “compliant” or valuable?”.

I wrote an article for the Fall 2015 edition of Better Software magazine. The article is also available here on my blog, “Why ISO 29119 is a flawed quality standard”.

At the same time I wrote an expanded version of that article, with more evidence and references. It was a result of work that I carried out for the Association for Software Testing’s Committee on Standards and Professional Practices. It ought to be a work of reference, with links and sources and is a basis for further work. It should be updated regularly, but I have been remiss.

This post from May 2017 is a slightly expanded version of a ranting Twitter thread about whether auditors should expect to see things called “test cases” (spoiler: they shouldn’t, unless that is stipulated in a contract). This might not seem directly related to ISO 29119, but that standard assumes that “test cases” will be produced and, like IEEE 829, it has contributed to an assumption that they are essential to good testing.

In July 2018 I wrote an update on the campaign, prompted by a comment in the talk section of the Wikipedia article on ISO 29119 that the opposition had died down.

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