ISO 29119 Summary Debate

I had the fortune of sitting down and listening in on the webinar last night by our CEO Philip Lew and his friend and colleague Jon Hagar where they discussed the merits of ISO 29119 and where it should and should not be used. This blog provides an ISO 29119 Summary in light of the information I gleaned from the webinar.

Firstly, there was a debate on ISO 29119 a few months ago in an XBOSoft webinar with Jon Hagar, Rex Black, Griffin Jones, and JeanAnn Harrison. Phil decided to invite Jon back to speak on ISO 29119 because there is a lot of negative information against the standard (i.e. #STOP29119), but not much in the ether regarding its merits. Could it be because there are none?

Much of Jon’s content covered the structure of the standard and how each section could be used or not used. “Tailoring” he called it. Watch the recorded video here:

“Trading language” was another term Jon used to describe how the standard could be used for different countries or even companies to have a common set of vocabulary and terms when discussing software testing requirements. However, one of the attendees mentioned that trading language has other connotations and should be used cautiously.

Jon mentioned how Part 2 of the standard relating to software testing processes was possibly the most likely to be used for compliance purposes. Phil asked what Jon thought regarding how it would be used and to what extent. Jon just said it’s anyone’s guess. However, there have been other standards that have said “tailoring” is permitted. Seems though that most who want to use standards want to do so to reduce the brainpower needed to do something. Tailoring requires brainpower. Of the 10+ documents identified in the Documentation section, Jon said most organizations would only use 2-3 of them depending on their situation and needs. Wouldn’t it just be easier to say they are all needed?

I think therein lies the fear that most people opposing the standard express. If so much “tailoring” is required, then is the standard useful at all? Jon’s response was yes, that it can be used as a baseline from which to start where organizations can pick and choose what they want to use.

Part 5 regards Keyword Based Testing implies automation, and Phil asked if it should be inside Part 4 on Testing Techniques (both parts only in draft form). Jon agreed this is a good point, but said that if all the testing techniques were contained in Part 4 it would be just too huge.

Anyways, it was a fruitful webinar and I think I got the gist of where ISO 29119 should and can be used. The problem is the tailoring. That requires work. Some may just choose to blindly follow the standard to avoid the work, while others will just ignore it.