In today's demanding business environment organisations face increasing compliance and regulatory risks. The consequences of getting it wrong can be serious, both in loss of revenue and reputation. With this in mind it is time to challenge why most business leaders think that the only party responsible for quality should be the testing and quality assurance department.

Commitment should start right at the top of an organisation and extend throughout the business and IT functions. I have spoken to many CIO's who tell me that they are spending up to 60% of the development budget on quality-related activities which lead to numerous iterations between development and test before a product is finally ready for deployment. It is this old-school approach that needs changing. If it is managed correctly quality also presents an opportunity for competitive advantage and to generate sustainable and profitable revenue.

Most organisations we talk to don't have a standard process for defining, managing and reporting on quality activities. Without organisational buy-in, where everyone understands and accepts that they all 'own' quality, it is impossible to create the right processes, metrics, continuous improvement plans and foundations to support quality.

Testing should not be an afterthought

The number of organisations that still view testing and quality as an afterthought to the development process and implement an approach half-way through the project which is both chaotic and expensive, is surprising. In these organisations QA and Testing becomes a bottle-neck between the development and production teams, and because the end date is near, not enough time is available to ensure a high quality product.

In today's business climate, we need a bullet-proof approach to managing software quality to address even the most elementary business goals and objectives. One answer has emerged from practitioners within the global testing and QA community - perhaps in response to their regularly receiving poor quality code to test and being blamed for holding the project to ransom while defects are detected and then sent back to development to fix. These practitioners have argued the need for change across the whole life-cycle for years and took it upon themselves to develop an industry model that helps organisations understand how they can change from costly defect-detection approaches to prevention.

Although the concept of an independent industry test maturity model (TMM) had been around for years, originally presented in 1996 by the Institute of Illinois; but it wasn't until 2005 that testing and QA experts across the world decided to look at the model in more detail and consider what could be done to better the industry.

Non-profit organisation

In early 2008 the TMMi Foundation was created as a non profit organisation with the overall goal of developing and managing the test maturity model integration (TMMi). This worldwide team of volunteers completed the development of the model last year, has successfully established the controls and processes around how an assessment should be completed and continues to ensure its relevance in today's competitive business environment.

The model, like capability maturity model integration CMMi, has five levels of process maturity and has become an industry standard recognised model to assess and certify capability for both test and quality-related processes. Perhaps in response to the global downturn and the increasing need for efficiency and reform across the business enterprise, the adoption of the model has spread internationally by organisations wanting to improve software quality and drive IT process efficiency throughout the systems development lifecyle.

With the recent announcement that MTP has become the first IT Services company worldwide to be formally certified at TMMi level three and with more and more companies from this sector embarking on this initiative, TMMi is well positioned to help transform the IT services industry from body shop-based suppliers to those delivering industrialised solutions that are both competitively priced and provide quality outcomes.

The model is important to the development of the global software testing industry as for the past few decades we have acted as a craft, rather than as a profession. The industry has focused on unit cost reduction, but with the emergence of an industry model which is not commercially driven, TMMi is helping to drive the industry towards getting it right, first time and, dare I say it, applying common sense.

Julian Clarke, director of Experimentus Ltd


Experimentus is an IT solutions and services company that specialises in optimising software quality management and test processes and providing clients with a prioritised roadmap for self improvement aligned to a return on investment or business case.


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This was first published in February 2011

 

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