ISO 29119 and rent seekers

I have already written a few things on the ISO 29119 software testing standard. I am the IEEE project editor for this actual suite of testing standards.

One item I have not addressed that the loyal opponents complain about is what they call “rent seekers”. As I understand it, these are people whose primary motivation for doing something is because it can make them money with minimal (or no) benefit or it can have a negative impact on the industry as a whole. Various standards writers, training providers for certifications, tool vendors, and others get this “label” . While it is true many people do these things to make money (we all have to make a living), in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with making money if there is an overall positive benefit from the activity being performed.

Now it is possible to debate if ISO 29119 in the long run will have a positive benefit to industry. Studies and many project data points are required before the pro or con of the “benefit” of 29119 can be determined. My estimation is that this will take a decade or more to happen.

I can say that my knowledge of the writers and voters on ISO 29119 tell me that many of them have yet to receive any positive “rent” income. In fact, many members of the ISO working group have spent far more money to attend meetings and do the work than have actually gained. As for me, I have spent thousands of my personal monies to write, present, and vote on the standard than I have received in compensation. I do not expect this inequality to change any time soon nor am I looking to cause my income to change with the implementation of this suite of standards. My work on ISO 29119 has simply been to provide some (not all) in the test industry a worldwide standard and a beginning point to improve the industry.

Note, I did not say there would not be people and companies that do not make money from 29119 or other standards. I am sure there will be training, audits, and consulting as a result of the adoption of ISO 29119. There will also be people that make money “fixing things” when part of a standard such as 29119 goes wrong, as every “ideal” can be subjected to misuse (in the wrong hands or with misbegottten intent).

We all must make a living, but I for one won’t be making much money of ISO 29119.