An open letter to the President of the International Organization for Standardization about ISO 29119

Dear Fellow Human Being,


The ISO 29119 has turned the world’s (my software testing world) attention towards you. The decision you make shall go into the history books of software testing if not into the history book of ISO. I am hopeful you have come across what some professional software testers are thinking about it and that you have gone through this petition:

I would like to present to you how a business like ours could be affected by ISO 29119 and then wait and watch you make a decision that can change the world.

Why should you care about my case? You don’t need to. Absolutely. However, you need to know the impact of whatever decision you are making. Testing helps decision makers inform the risks of the decisions they are making or have made in the past. That is precisely why I am writing to you – to let you know the impact that your decisions have made and will make.

To give you a quick background of who we are. We are a testing services company co-founded by testers turned entrepreneurs. We started off in a small garage with 2 people in December 2010 and have grown to serving more than 50+ customers across North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia. We serve banks, media companies, retail chains, e-commerce giants, education providers, mobility providers, and plenty of start-ups. We are a fully bootstrapped company and now at the size of 80+ people. We use an adopted version of context-driven testing approach to serve our customers.

The most important of all – we care for testing – the profession, the craft, the passion, the people and for its future.

Due to our nature of the business, we often get into contracts and bids from large companies. The lawyers who make the Contracts and Master Service Agreements for these large corporations have no clue about software and how to develop or test it. Of course, they are not expected to. However, they do seem to know about ISO. In many of the contracts and bids, we had to participate, the clause of using Industry Best Practices exists and references to ISO linking to industry best practices also exist.

I am copy-pasting an excerpt from one of them

In supplying the Deliverables, the Supplier shall adhere to Industry Best Practice including ISO 17799, ISO 9001 and the ISO 27000 series.

Brilliant. Isn’t it? The contracts mandate ISO as Best Industry Practice. The 29119 is precisely aimed to be included into such contracts and make only certain companies win the contracts. The ISO 29119 is aimed at polarizing the outsourced software testing business and market.

The ISO 29119 when it passes through your approval, shall be included into such contracts and companies who aim to win large contracts (and who don’t really care about what happens to the testing profession) would love to adopt it.

As a piece of evidence, the aim is to get into contracts: (last accessed September 4th, 7:00 AM: IST)

Is the objective of ISO to polarize business contracts?

I would like to bring to your attention what ISO means by a standard

What is a standard?

A standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.


In your own definition of standard you are talking about fit for their purpose. Who decides fit for a purpose? Those who write the contracts or those who own the responsibility to deliver it?

We helped Rabobank in Indonesia implement a new core banking system across 90+ branches. This was their largest IT project in Indonesia. We didn’t do what 29119 thinks is a standard to test software – we tailored the approaches to suit the context. This is precisely why it worked. If there was an audit, we would be non-compliant to ISO 29119 and does it matter as long as the goals are achieved in a scalable manner?

Take a look at what our customer said

“Moolya as our strategic testing partner have played an important role in Go-live of our Core Banking System upgrade. I recommend Moolya as a testing partner to banks looking for big changes to their software and as a trusted testing partner”.

Marcel van Berlo

Program Director, Rabobank Indonesia


“I hired Mooyla as strategic testing partner for Rabobank International Indonesia (RII) to test the upgrade of the core banking system in Jakarta. They were in competition with several other Testing Companies and their testing craftsmanship combined with the will to take ownership and partner with RII, convinced us they were the company to work with. Moolya did an excellent job. I recommend Moolya as a testing partner for companies looking for skilled testers who have the skills to standout in any situation.”

Huib Schoots
Test Consultant Improve Quality Services
Global Test Manager at Rabobank International in 2012

If ISO had been the criteria for Rabobank, we would have never made it there. Rabobank would have also not seen a new value company like Moolya as their test partner.

Here is a copy paste from your website

What are the benefits of ISO International Standards?

ISO International Standards ensure that products and services are safe, reliable and of good quality. For business, they are strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors, and increasing productivity. They help companies to access new markets, level the playing field for developing countries and facilitate free and fair global trade.

Fair trade? Contracts having ISO 29119 as best practice to be followed? How does that help in creating a fair trade opportunity?

My business is not threatened by ISO 29119. ISO 29119 threatens the business of some large customers even before it can come to hit companies like ours. Many Small and Medium scale businesses don’t bother about ISO. You can’t sell ISO 29119 to companies like Google because they have built software with their own approaches that have scaled billions. The aim of ISO 29119 is those who are not an IT company. Like Banks, Healthcare, Insurance, Government bodies where a lot of money is at stake when they outsource IT and or testing.

I bet there are large IT services companies in India and other parts of the world who will love ISO 29119. I have worked for some of them or consulted them. They love anything that makes testing slower so that they can bill more. The customers don’t know they are asking for slower testing. Slower testing means delayed feedback. Delayed feedback means too late to recover. When would you like to know about a problem in the flight? When it is on ground or after take-off? After take-off, you are taken off.

If you are interested to know more or want to have a detailed conversation with a businessman like me, I would be happy to do so to help you make an informed decision. Before I became a businessman, I was informing people of the risks they were taking. For I was a software tester. I know what ISO 29119 means, to testing. It means a lot. In the wrong direction.

I urge you to setup an open debate about this topic, live stream it and record it. You should just ask people to present examples from those who support ISO 29119 and those who do not support ISO 29119. Then make your decision.

This way, it can solve all problem you, me and my colleagues in the testing community have about ISO 29119. If you listen to the counter arguments from my community colleagues and still make a decision to go ahead with ISO 29119 you help them not waste their time pursuing you. You save your time that can help bring useful standards unlike ISO 29119.

Note the 911 in 29119. People are calling you out on an emergency and your reaction to it appears to matter. Also note the 9/11 in 29119. That also denotes the potential debacle we are all about to witness.

Your move!

Chess corner Check Mate


— Pradeep Soundararajan

CEO, Moolya

Student, Software Testing

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