In my June column Bringing testing on board I described how Geoff Thompson of the testing consultancy Experimentus and I went back to basics and asked: "What is the essential purpose of (software and systems) testing?"

We concluded that purpose of testing was confidence in outcomes. The board wants to have confidence that, when it invests significant sums of money in new software and systems capabilities, intended outcomes will be delivered, on time and to budget.

So I was delighted at a recent testing conference in Seoul when Jan Jaap Cannegieter of the Dutch quality assurance consultancy SysQA urged his audience to get out of the cave.

He was reporting on the outcomes of an exercise in which he had assessed the positioning and effectiveness of the test processes of 25 companies.

The results were clear — relatively high scores in test design and execution and in setting the test environment, but relatively low scores in setting test policy and strategy and in test planning.

Jan Jaap argued that this demonstrated a bias towards the testing techie's heartland (doing the technical task as efficiently as possible) and away from addressing the wider issues of operational and strategic context (identifying the correct things to do).


In the words of the late Peter Drucker: "There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all."

These wider issues of context are where dialogue with the board is vital.

So Jan Jaap's analysis of his fellow testing professionals is we need to get out of the cave by developing constructive approaches to wider stakeholder involvement and management.

He went on to demonstrate his main thesis in a most interesting way.

He asked the audience of over a hundred experienced testing professionals at the TMMi Seoul International Conference to stand and then, starting at the very techie end of the spectrum of activities that the Test Maturity Model integration (TMMi) framework identifies, asked those that could honestly say that they practiced that element of the framework to remain standing.