Journey towards Maturity; Assessing the Test Process
With growing demands of its customer base, and further growth that is anticipated in the coming years, one of the biggest banks in Turkey thought of to structure its testing process and improve general testing practices. Therefore, the bank had initiated a test process improvement track after the formation of “Test Factory” under its main IT Organization that has resulted into the ongoing implementation of structured testing practices at the bank.
The main aim of this article is to expose the current test practices that make the testing ineffective and inefficient (the “weaknesses”), together with underlining the strong aspects (the “strengths”).
The weaknesses are the areas for which an organization may define improvement propositions. The strengths represent the practices that have already proven their use. They should be kept and incorporated in the improved testing approach. The list of strengths and weaknesses is structured according to the 3 foundations of the software testing discipline:
- Process: Testing phases and activities and their place in the software development process
- People: Organizational structure, testing resources and their tasks / responsibilities
- Technology: Infrastructure (test environments, test tools, test data, office environment)
All the above 3 foundations can also be regarded as the main streams for Testing Maturity Model (TMM) which is based on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), and first produced by the Illinois Institute of Technology. Its aim to be used in a similar way to CMM, that is to provide a framework for assessing the maturity of the test processes in any organization, by doing so providing targets on improving maturity.
During the assessment, two industry standards for Test Maturity Model are followed; Test Maturity Model Integration® (TMMi) and Test Process Improvement® (TPI). In order to have an efficient and complete evaluation, both models are deployed and final grading is done on both systems. By this way, a possible future accreditation on TMMi® and TPI® becomes feasible.
Both TMMi® and TPI® have questions to decide the maturity level of the banks IT Organization. Doing an assessment or having one done with an industry standard may well be a very good step to take. However, in order to improve the contribution of testing to product quality and evaluating the organization in a tailored vision, it is needed to be understood what can realistically be expected from testing in the whole area of all the banks processes.
Finally, the question arises; which maturity level will be the right one for the bank ? There clearly can’t be one simple answer to this question and even this article won’t explain this. As mentioned above, what an assessment will show is where the organization has room for improvement, but the decision on what to improve has to be made by the relevant stakeholders within the organization.
Probably the goals at Level 2 or Level 3 (of TMMi and/or TPI) may be sufficient, but when it comes to a broader project or application portfolio, at least the goals at Level 3 should be considered. Especially for business critical applications, if testing as a service is offered within the company or for external clients, the testing organization should definitely aim to satisfy the goals up to Level 5.
Once the assessment is performed (current level is defined), it will be time to decide which actions to take to start the improvement journey. The whole process can be considered as a journey; ultimately it will take time, money and commitment.
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