ISO Standards Talk at Expo QA

Eric PughNovember 28, 2008

Stuart Reid of Testing Solutions Group gave a presentation on the new ISO standard for testing.

While ISO standards are not normally my cup of tea, I was interested in learning more about how these standards are generated, especially since software testing is near and dear to my heart.

Stuart started out with some interesting points about standards. For example, Standards are not “Best Practices”. They are on a continuum between current practices and best practice. They are not best practice because by definition, only one entity at a time could claim “Best Practice”. So the goal of standards is to set a goal that is achieveable, but beyond where we are. Hence standards being “good standards”.

I liked how he illustrated what standards are by pointing out that the pram built to the same level as a tank:
Matches the same standard as your basic cheapo stroller:
Both meet a “good” level of safety.

Stuart is leading the working group that is developing the ISO standard for Software Testing: ISO 29119. Astonishingly enough the concept of Software Testing doesn’t have an ISO standard yet!

There is an interesting slide that there are lots of new standards related to testing. There has been massive growth in them, and therefore in an environment of many standards, you have no standards! Hence the impetus to creating an international standard for software testing. The new ISO standard will build on existing standards, but will also replace existing standards, like the IEEE 829 standard for documentation.

He made the call for volunteers to become more involved in this standard. Today is the time to become involved because this will have significant impact in the future for our industry. Here is some more background information written by Stuart about the standard and it’s history.

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