Posted by: Brian | April 7, 2010

Get Certified with IBM Rational Testing Tools – Free for Innovate 2010 Attendees

Ok – so the Rational Tester knows that there’s always an issue around certifications.   Test curmudgeon James Bach often rallies against such certifications, as outlined on his blog.  And while he does make some interesting points, I think the goal of certification is a good one.  I come at this from my perspective as a professional accountant.  All professional accountants in Canada must be certified by one of three accounting entities, which effectively insures a core level of accounting competency in all practitioners.  Same goes for Doctors, Lawyers, Mechanics, Plumbers, etc…

So why not testers?   I know there are challenges, and maybe current certifications don’t make the grade, but I believe it would be a step in the right direction if there was some sort of certification mechanism for test professionals.

On the topic, at this year’s Rational software conference, Innovate2010, all attendees are entitled to two free product certifications.  For Quality Management, we have certifications for IBM Rational Functional Tester, IBM Rational Performance Tester and IBM Rational Quality manager to name a few.  So do your homework, read your manuals, and get yourself certified – for FREE – at Innovate 2010.

Click Here formMore information on Innovate 2010 Free Certifications.

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Responses

  1. The interesting points you speak of, that I have made on this, already address the question you pose.

    Why not testers? Because there is no unified community of testers who can say what it means to be a professional tester. First, lets create such a community. But, wait, we won’t succeed in that until we learn how to address the many controversies in our craft.

    Why not testers? Because testers are not in a position to say no to management about the conditions under which testing occurs. In order to have a professional community, you must establish independence of some kind, and a code of ethics about how the professional shall relate to his clients. We have no such thing in testing. Therefore, certifying testers does nothing to solve the problem of bad testing, which originates with overly ambitious or underly competent management.

    The good practice of testing is not something that can be separated from the good conduct of everyone around the tester.

    Furthermore, the certification programs in place do nothing to support the goal you speak of. In fact, I think they harm that goal. They move us away from it. Because simplistic certifications send the message that we should expect very little from testers. People get certified who are in no position to defend or even comprehend the value of their own work.

    Certified doctors can refuse to behave in an unethical and unsafe way, and they can’t be fired for that. Certified pilots can refuse to fly into thunderstorms even when management orders them to. But what about certified testers? Do we expect them to refuse to test?

    As for me, I refuse to accept bad certification. That certifies me, I should think, as having SOME kind of reasonable standard.

    — James

    • James – I appreciate the time you’ve taken to reply and reinforce your points. I think many will resonate with the reality that testers are not masters of their own domain as they rarely get to control the schedule or resources.

      Despite all this, I am in favor of taking the first step you mention of building a community, despite the many challenges, and despite the fact that it may not directly lead to an effective certification mechanism. To me, that’s a step in the right direction – and I think one could argue a step many have taken, albeit informally, via blogs and conferences, and various working groups like WOPR. Coming up with some global tester certification may indeed by impossible – but in one sense, active community membership and participation on it’s own is a form a certification.

      Without belaboring this though – let me ask you this…Do you have an issue with tool certifications, such as the ones mentioned in the original post? Putting aside any automation tool issues for the moment, would you agree that it is possible to come up with a tool certification that establishes a core competency level in the various testing tools out there, be they IBM’s, HPs, open source or any other?

  2. I agree that we must build community. That is something I’ve been working on a long time. Some of my colleagues seem to be very good at that. In any case, I’m going to WOPR next week and then to the Star conference. I just wrapped up three weeks of speaking and trying to get people excited about testing skills in Sweden.

    I’ve never thought much of tool certifications. They don’t worry me as much, I guess, because they are so limited in scope. Also, I doubt that there are different communities that have very different ideas in how to use a tool.

    It’s the tools themselves that worry me. I advise my clients not to purchase any expensive tool for use in software development or testing. Generally speaking they are poorly conceived, bloated, and support only a narrow idea of how to work. (Meanwhile, there are tons of free tools of immense power and flexibility.) But the worst thing is that when management pays a lot of money, what they are selling their own people into a kind of slavery. The people who work for them, on discovering that a tool lacks a critical element or forces an unwanted element, are not free to choose a different tool, since that would prove that the purchasing manager wasted the money– it’s a vicious form of the sunk cost bias and the endowment effect.

    Example: any tool that forces testers to record “test cases” while having no facility to document testing in terms of “test activities” is unusable for me. (If you don’t see that distinction, then you will not be surprised that apparently no designer of a test management system I know of has ever understood that distinction, either. That’s why I wrote my own test management system.)

  3. I’m with you on the community and I’m with you on the scope of tool certifications.

    In particular, I commend your efforts which I’ve witnessed at many conferences to sit down with any and all to talk test.

    It’s also probably fair to say that tool certifications are limited in scope. They are after all tools – and they’ve been refined so much over the years that most people can be productive with them in short order – though there’s always some new trick to learn.

    On the tools themselves, I respect your opinion, but do disagree. A good tester should be able to recognize a tool’s limitations and be able to find other ways to achieve their goals than to force a fit to work around a tool’s shortcomings. Using a hammer to pound in a screw is never a good idea, and a good tester will quickly recognize the need to go find a screwdriver. I would also think it’s more common to find managers that would support finding the right tool, than forcing the wrong one.

    I am curious about your test management system. I won’t be at Star East this year, but will be at Star West. If you’re up for it, I’d be happy to show you our latest test tools, and would love to see what you’ve done with yours. Maybe we could both learn from each other’s tools.


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