International Institute of Software Testing

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October 24, 2016 Issue



Higher Quality Systems through more Disciplined Software Testing Practices and Education-Based Certifications


Dr. Magdy Hanna

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer


International Institute of Software Testing


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor

CEOCFO Magazine


CEOCFO: Dr. Hanna, would you tell us about the International Institute of Software Testing?

Dr. Hanna: The International Institute for Software Testing was founded back in 1999 with one important mission and that is “advancing the software testing profession through disciplined software testing practices and education-based certifications”. During my years working as a professor of software engineering on the Masters level as well as consulting for large companies and defense organizations, I found out that the field of software testing was not well prepared to meet the challenges of today’s systems. As practiced by many people, software testing practices was lacking discipline. Therefore, the Institute was founded to establish software testing as a profession and to advance it through education and education based certification as opposed to certification that people can get just by passing a test or by taking a course that prepares them to pass a test.


CEOCFO: Are most people looking for real certification and knowledge or do you find there are a lot of people that want to put the certification on a resume and do not care that much if they understand?

Dr. Hanna: For so many years there have been a number of programs out there that certified people simply if they passed a very simple multiple choice exam. There was actually one company that certified people based on submitting an application and paying $300 or $400. They did this over a number of years and certified thousands of people in this manner. This by itself has created a bad reputation for certifications in general. I have even heard some people saying some certifications out there are not worth the paper they are written on and that is because the way certifications were granted. The truth is some hiring managers have a bad taste in their mouth about certifications. I have had managers talking telling me they have hired certain people who have been certified but they did not know how to write one single test case. What we have been trying to do since we established the institute is to change this completely and I believe we succeeded in promoting education- based certifications. I recently published an article on LinkedIn titled “Software Quality and Testing Certifications Under the Microscope”. The message I was trying to relay in this this article is there is no profession without education and you cannot pursue a career in any profession unless you receive the proper education to fulfill the responsibilities of the profession. There was a great reaction by different hiring managers. The value of a certification is not in a piece of paper you received or even in the test you passed. It is clearly in the education you receive to achieve the certification and how it makes you a better professional. We all agree that passing an exam does not make you a better professional and does not make you more capable of doing a better job. Certification to us is a byproduct of the learning process. This has been proven by the number of companies and government organizations who brought IIST to training and certify there employees. They always testify to the value of the training program and its impact on the performance of their teams.  Employers are not interested in just getting their people certified. They are more interested in investing in their people and improving their performance. 

We now have ten different certifications covering every aspect of software testing. We also have over 100 courses in software testing and 60 of those are available online.


CEOCFO: According to your site, ‘if it is not practical, proven and feasible we do not teach it.’  Would you give us an example of what that means and why that is important?

Dr. Hanna: There are many books published in software testing. There are also some schools that teach software testing as a subject. In the early 1980’s when I taught at the University of Minnesota, I taught software testing as a subject. However, when I ask test professionals today about what techniques or methods do they use to design tests, not too many people can name even one method or a technique. The reason is that most of what has been published and is being taught is all theory. Even many courses being taught as preparation courses to help people pass a certification exams teach too much theory that does not relate an individual’s job responsibilities. We belie you learn from instructor’s experience not from course material and exams. At IIST, we believe in specialization. We only hire instructors that have many years of experience on the specific topic they are teaching. That is why we do not have full time instructors. We have consultant who share their experiences working on many project for many years. They have written their own course material based on their own experience. We do not have course material that we give instructor to teach. Our goal is to teach only stuff that can help people in their projects. When we conduct the training at client sites, we work closely with the company to understand their practices so that what we teach them what fits well within what they do. We conducted training for all types of industries and environment from medical device to air force, military, insurance, avionic and we spend the time first with the technical managers to understand what practices and methodologies they use and we change our course materials accordingly to fit well with what they do. This is the only way they can find value in the training. That is what we mean by practical, proven, and feasible.


CEOCFO: How do you know when it is time to create new courses?

Dr. Hanna: Our training and certification programs are technology-driven. If there is a new technology that test teams are using, we create a new training for it. Our instructors are very active in the field and our Advisory Board makes recommendations for new courses and certifications.


CEOCFO: Are most of the courses purchased through a company?

Dr. Hanna: We offer our courses through three channels. One of them is what we call onsite training, which is when a company brings us to training the teams. This is normally the most effective way to do training as we are able to customize the course to fit within the current practices at client sites. It is also cost effective because the cost per person is much lower than other channels. Another channel is though public training week which we hold in different cities. Typically, there is about 25 courses scheduled in one week. We get people from almost anywhere in the world to attend these training weeks. The third channel is online web based training. We have over sixty courses that are available as pre-recorded self-paced. Attendees listen to the instructor and follow the instructor with the course material. We also schedule some of our courses as live interactive sessions where individuals join the sessions at specific times. This works well with our international customers to avoid travel of their people to the U.S. to attend live training. If people miss a session or two, we make the recording of the session available to them to view at any time.


CEOCFO: How is business?

Dr. Hanna: Not as good as it used to be but it is still good. Companies are not spending as much on training as they did in the past. Travel budget is also deeply cut. When budget cuts happen, the first thing that gets cut is training. Many companies shifted to online training to avoid travel expenses. Some companies also now bring us to train and certify a number of people to reduce cost. The truth is off-shoring hurt everyone. Most software jobs, testing and development have left the U.S. The training business in software testing and software development in general has changed a lot over the last ten years. We have companies that used to have 100-150 test professionals in their team. They now have no more than 10-15 people. The rest are somewhere in Asia or Mexico. We still work with large corporations to training their employees offshore. However, when corporation use offshore contractors, training does not happen.   


CEOCFO: What is your plan going forward to garner more attention?

Dr. Hanna: Focusing on new technologies. Mobile and Internet of Things poses new challenges to the software testing profession. The profession cannot deal with these complex technologies the same way they did with simple technologies twenty years ago. Our Advisory Board already approved our new Mobiles Testing certifications and training program. We will also continue to promote education as the only way to advance the profession. We will work hard on raising awareness of the value education in meeting the challenges of the future. We have been in business for since 1999 and we have a large customer base and people who believe in our mission and the value we provide.


“The value of a certification is not in a piece of paper you received or even in the test you passed. It is clearly in the education you receive to achieve the certification and how it makes you a better professional. Employers are not interested in just getting their people certified. They are more interested in investing in their people and improving their performance.”- Dr. Magdy Hanna


International Institute of Software Testing



Magdy Hanna, Ph.D.







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