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Archive for December, 2005

Software Testing: Education and Certification

Posted by Mike on 30th December 2005

I did some research today to summarize some options for software testing Education and Certification. To begin with, here is James Bach’s thought on certification called Against Certification. I concur with his analysis, but I also realize the practical realities of the corporate world. Certification can help you there. And, if you do it right, you can get some good education by getting a certification.

Formal training is available from several different vendors. I recommend the following approach.

Reading Books
Testing Computer Software by Cem Kamer

Lessons Learned in Software Testing by Cem Kaner, James Bach, and Bret Pettichord.

Online Course
Black Box Software Testing – This is the course that I will be taking my QA & Testing Team through during the first half of 2006. It is free and available from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Classroom Training
Any of the training referenced in the Certification section below.

Introduction to Testing for Business Analysts – I have taken a course from ESI on Requirements Gathering and found that their courses give you good foundational knowledge on the subject. I expect that their testing course would do the same.

In this course, you’ll learn the necessary skills to construct effective test strategies and test plans to verify and validate requirements—enabling you to deliver the quality your business demands. You will also be able to communicate the rationale for and value of planning and conducting the various necessary reviews and inspections. You’ll gain an understanding of black box and glass box (white box) testing from a business analyst’s perspective—and you’ll know how to communicate with those who perform the systems analyst function.

Software Testing for Better Project Management – There is some overlap between this course and Introduction to Testing for Business Analysts, but the main objective of the course is different.

In this course, you will discover why and how to integrate testing throughout the software development process in order to uncover bugs, ensure performance, enhance quality and lower costs. Using a set of integrated classroom exercises beginning with requirements validation and ending with implementation, this course demonstrates how management of testing activities relates to the life cycle of projects involving software development of projects.

There are two main organizations that offer certification programs in the software testing arena. Those are: ISTQB (International Software Testing Qualifications Board) and IIST (International Institute for Software Testing). At this time, I do not have a specific recommendation as to which certification program is best.

There are two levels of certification from ISTQB: Foundation Level and Advanced Level.

Software Quality Engineering is a company that offers testing certification courses. Software Testing Certification is their Certified Tester – Foundation Level Training course. The certification exam can be taken after this three-day course.

To qualify to sit for an Advanced Level exam, you must:

  • Have five years of verifiable full-time work experience in software or systems testing, development, quality assurance, engineering or a related field; and
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution in computer science or a related field may be substituted for up to two years of work experience; and
  • Hold an ISTQB Certified Tester – Foundation Level certificate.

Two different certifications are offered by IIST. Certification training is offered by IIST.

Certified Software Test Professional (CSTP)

  • CSTP is an education-based certification, based on a Body of Knowledge that covers areas essential for every test professional to effectively perform their job in testing projects.
  • Two requirements must be satisfied before the CSTP certification can be granted. These are: Formal Education Requirement (10 days and written exams) and Job Experience Requirement (one year). More information is available on their website.

Certified Test Manager (CTM)

  • The CTM Certification was developed to fill the gap in the management skills required by test managers and test leads to effectively manage the test process, the test project and the test organization.
  • Two requirements must be satisfied before the CTM certification can be granted. These are: Formal Education Requirement (10 days and written exams) and Job Experience Requirement (3 years testing and 1 year lead/management). More information is available on their website.

Posted in Software & Computers, Testing | 1 Comment »

Going to Canada?

Posted by Mike on 30th December 2005

I read James Bach’s blog because I am interested in testing. The following entry is not about testing, but it is about our changing world. Freedoms and rights are eroding. It reminds me, so much, of the stories I have read about the USSR, China, and other oppressive governments. There is no due process, only “probable cause.” Watch out, it is coming to the United States too.

Read Customs and the Computer Guy.

Posted in Freedom | No Comments »

God’s Reminder

Posted by Mike on 28th December 2005

I am reminded this morning how God cares for me, even in the little things. My drive to work was foggy and drizzly. After a few miles, my washer solution gave out. It was getting hard to keep the windshield clean. I pulled into a gas station, wondering if I should buy a bottle of washer fluid, or just clean my windshield and go on. To my amazement, there were two nearly empty bottles of washer fluid sitting by the trash can! I waited for a few minutes and prayed before deciding that this was God’s provision for me. I poured them into my car’s washer fluid tank. I was then able to complete my drive and keep my windshield clean. Praise God!

Posted in About God | No Comments »

Running Effective Meetings

Posted by Mike on 6th December 2005

Norman Bodek has written a short piece on Running Effective Meetings, as part of the Kaizen Blog project. In it, he advocates a format for stand-up meetings and contrasts that to a traditional meeting approach. I agree that his format for conducting a stand-up meeting is great. However, it only seems practical for co-located teams.

Here are some questions that Norman asks:
7. Questions:

       a. Did you participate?

      b. Did you feel the meeting had real value to your work?

      c. Do you look forward to those meeting?

      d. Etc.?

7.a The answer to 7a is a personal one. Either you will participate or you will not. Obviously, a culture that encourages participation will help with this.
7b. Many meetings can be low value. It is very important that the meeting organizer sets up and runs the meeting to gain maximum value for the participants.
7c. If 7b is handled well, people will look forward to meetings. If there are too many meetings, it won’t matter how good a particular meeting is run. People will get burnt out on meetings and probably just want some time to themselves to “get things done.”

I propose a hybrid of the stand-up meeting and the traditional meeting. This helps when teams are not co-located.

  1. Have a standing meeting time and place, but don’t be afraid to call a meeting when it is needed.
  2. Build your meeting plan (agenda) on stated problems.
  3. Work each problem, one at a time.
  4. Make sure that everyone can briefly say what they want to say.
  5. Gain agreement on a course of action.
  6. Get a reliable promise to carry out that course of action.
  7. Iterate, until all the problems are discussed.
  8. Thank everyone and close the meeting.
  9. Document the meeting.

This isn’t exactly a lean approach, but I believe it does help improve the traditional meeting. One thing that I try to do is keep status reporting to a minimum. Status reporting is hard to avoid completely, but I do feel that people find more value, from a meeting, where problems are solved.

Posted in Management & Business | No Comments »

New Category: Testing

Posted by Mike on 2nd December 2005

Beginning in November, I was given a new project at work. This project is concerned with establishing a QA/Testing practice with the purpose of testing a new vendor-written policy administration system. It is a big undertaking. My team is established and we have completed most of the project planning. Work is underway to select automated testing tools. Right now, we are getting demos from the finalists. We are also starting to define the testing requirements, prior to creating test cases. This is a challenge, as we only have a rough demo system, the requirements documents, and our business knowledge to work with.

In preparation for this role, I got involved with the Des Moines Area Quality Assurance Association, or DAQAA. The meetings have helped me learn something about testing as a competency.

I have also been doing some reading, on the internet, from people in the testing profession. Click here for a list of the bookmarks I have collected so far.

Since we are starting with a low-level understanding of formalized testing as a competency, I looked for some training on testing. I came across a course that I think will help us with our task. It is called A Course in Black Box Testing by Cem Kaner and James Bach.

Posted in Testing | No Comments »