Blogspot on ISO 29119

Abstract :

With this blogspot we have tried to explain what is ISO, what are standards and how standards are defined by ISO as these things have to be understood before getting into the actual topic of ISO 29119.  Also we have explained about the stages in ISO 29119 and the cons of the same.

About ISO :


The primary activities of this standards organization is to develop, coordinate, promulgate, revise, amend, reissue, interpret, or otherwise producing technical standards that are intended to address the needs of some relatively wide base of affected adopters.
In essence, a standard is an agreed way of doing something. It could be about making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials – standards can cover a huge range of activities undertaken by organizations and used by their customers.

Organizations might use:

  • A quality management standard to help them work more efficiently and reduce product failures.
  • An environmental management standard  to help reduce environmental impacts, reduce waste and be more sustainable.
  • A health and safety standard  to help reduce accidents in the workplace.
  • An IT security standard to help keep sensitive information secure.
  • A construction standard  to help build a house.
  • An energy management standard  to help cut energy consumption.
  • A food safety standard  to help prevent food from being contaminated.
  • An accessibility standard to help make buildings accessible to disabled users.
  • An interoperability standard to ensure that bank and credit cards fit into ATMs and can be used throughout the world.
 Development stages of Standards :
There are actually six stages within the ISO standards development process  which can be summed up in three main phases: the new work item phase, the consensus-building phase, and the formal approval section.
  1. The need for a standard is usually expressed by an industry sector which is taken as new work item by ISO. Once the need has been recognized the first phase of development focuses on defining the technical scope of the future standard. This phase is usually carried out in working groups which comprise technical experts from countries interested in the subject matter.
  2. Once agreement has been reached, the second phase is entered where countries negotiate the detailed specifications within the standard. This is the consensus-building phase.
  3. The final phase culminates in the formal approval of the resulting draft International Standard which must be approved by two-thirds of the ISO members that have participated actively in the standards development process. Finally, the agreed-upon text is published as an ISO International Standard.


six stages2

Quality and Standards :

One of the widely accepted standards are ISO 9004 and ISO 9001 keeping quality in focus.


There is a new standard which has been defined by ISO for software testing that is ISO 29119. However, many in the testing community are against it.
Now let us come across what is ISO 29119, different stages involved and also why the standard is considered bad for software testing.

What is ISO 29119 :

ISO 29119 is defined for software testing that can be used within any software development life cycle or organisation. There are currently five standards:

  • ISO 29119-1: Concepts & Definitions
  • ISO 29119-2: Test Processes
  • ISO 29119-3: Test Documentation
  • ISO 29119-4: Test Techniques
  • ISO 29119-5: Keyword Driven Testing

ISO 29119-1 : This standard introduces the concepts and vocabulary and is also informative, provides a starting point, context, and guidance for the other parts.

ISO 29119-2 :  This standard comprises test process descriptions that define the software testing processes at the organizational level, test management level and dynamic test levels. It supports dynamic testing, functional and non-functional testing, manual and automated testing, and scripted and unscripted testing.

ISO 29119-3 : This standard includes templates and examples of test documentation. The templates are arranged within clauses reflecting the overall test process description structure in ISO 29119-2.

ISO 29119-4 : This standard is still under production and voting, but it will define common names of test techniques in functional and structural patterns of testing. Each technique is presented with details on defining conditions, coverage, and cases.

ISO 29119-5 :  This standard defines an international standard for supporting Keyword-Driven Testing which is a way of describing test cases by using a predefined set of Keywords. These Keywords are names which are associated with a set of actions that are required to perform a specific step in a test case.

ISO 29119 structure


stop-29119 How ISO 29119 is considered as dangerous testing technique :

  • According to James Christie, ISO 29119 puts too much emphasis on process and documentation rather than the real testing.
  • Jeffrey Hammond states that ISO 29119 lacked the idea of combining testing practices with development practices in an agile context.
  • ISO standard for the testers just appear as a job protection program.
  • The standard does not reflect the values and practices of the world community of testers.
  • Many believe that the motive behind the standard is not increased quality, but economic benefit, instead.
  • Testing is done with a purpose: to “discover” and “share information” related to the quality. Any activity, any effort that doesn’t contribute to doing so is waste.
  • Any such waste, results in a reduction in sample size,  equates to opportunity cost: an opportunity lost to perform certain tests. For a project constrained by quality, this translates into increased time and cost. For a project constrained by time or money, this translates into a reduction in the information available to stakeholders, and a corresponding increase in risks to quality.
  • A standard where we have to pay to even know the standard, doesn’t encourage discussion, and so it hinders improving said standard.
  • The documents should have at least been a public property, so that it could be discussed & tested in public.
  • This standard engages in-goal displacement which expands money, time and resources on demonstrating compliance with the standard, rather than on actually testing their products and services. Every minute that a tester spends on wasteful documentation is a minute that the tester cannot fulfill the overarching mission of testing: learning about the product, with an emphasis on discovering important problems that threaten value or safety, so that our clients can make informed decisions about problems and risks.
  • The standard has excessive and wasteful documentation. Ironically, the standard itself provides an example: the current version of ISO 29119-1 runs to 64 pages; 29119-2 has 68 pages; and 29119-3 has 138 pages. If those pages follow the pattern of earlier drafts, or of most other ISO documents, we will surely have a long, pointless, and sleep-inducing read ahead of us.
  • It is an overly complex and poorly architectured standard.
  • This standard sets up an unnecessary market for training, certification, and consultancy in interpreting and applying the standard. The primary tactic here is to instill the fear of being de-certified.

Below is the ISTQB vision :


Conclusion :

In short, standards are meant for the people in the same industry to be familiar with the process, terms and terminologies. The concepts should not be mandated because there is no standard way to perform software testing. As experienced testers, we learn and adapt to the context in which software is made. Further, we do not believe that the field of software testing has reached its peak. There is so much more to learn. There are so many more techniques to discover. We feel like the people who think testing can be standardized are suffering from what psychologists call “end of history illusion”.

Article by Sapna and Deepthi


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