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Test Maturity Model makes enterprise inroads

As test and test-related quality disciplines of IT mature, there is a growing need to assess process maturity quickly and robustly to accepted industry standards. There are many models available, but the Test Maturity Model (TMM) could provide the best way forward as it aligns more easily with industry standard software engineering assessment models than alternative models.

Marks & Spencer benefited from using TMM to improve its testing processes. The implementation of TMM-recommended improvements paid for itself within 12 months and the company is seeing real value added to its bottom line. The benefits include delivering more projects to time and to budget, and reducing overall fault levels, development and test costs, and production support costs.

Marks & Spencer was the first organisation in the UK to publicise its use of TMM. Its challenge was to assess its extended software delivery process, both on and off-shore, and to provide a structured, progressive roadmap of process improvements linked to demonstrable benefits.

After evaluating the other models available, M&S decided to use TMM as the basis of its process improvement project. The company felt that TMM that would be understood at all levels of the organisation and could quickly demonstrate benefits (a typical full TMM assessment can be completed in two to three weeks).

TMM was developed by the Illinois Institute of Technology as a staged process maturity assessment model that is aligned with Capability Maturity Model (CMM), the widely used process improvement standard. TMM effectively filled the quality control void that exists in the current CMM models.

TMM aims to help firms assess test processes in depth and identify weak areas. Like CMM, it has five stages of maturity (oen being the chaotic to five - optimisation) each containing a number of key process areas. Formal assessment methods based on the model are repeatable, will assess current software development maturity and provide a clear process improvement plan.

TMM also has the advantage of being capable of helping companies evaluate progress towards achievement of a particular level through to full auditable assessments. Most firms assessed so far fall into either level one or two, far below the level five optimum. Used correctly it can provide the industry with a standard, robust, reliable, and flexible test and test-related process maturity assessment model.

Interest in the use of the model is growing internationally, with presentations appearing on the agenda for all international testing and quality related conferences.

The TMMi Foundation has been established to recognise the growing interest in TMM and to provide a forum to develop the model towards a de facto industry standard. A number of well-known practitioners from around Europe are involved. The Foundation is a non-profit making body whose objectives are to:

- Define of an international core TMMi Model standard and placed in the public domain

- Create and manage an independent, unbiased central data repository and provision of industry and other analysis services

- Provide independent accreditation process for TMMi assessment methods based on the standard model

- Provide independent mechanism to facilitate verification and formal ratification of TMMi assessment ratings

- Define and maintain independent assessor training, accreditation, guidelines and examinations

- Provide a public forum of interested parties to facilitate free interchange of information, education, ideas and usage of the public standard

Brian Wells is a consultant with Experimentus (brian.wells@experimentus.com). He worked as a consultant at Marks & Spencers, including on the TMM project and now chairs the TMMI Foundation.


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