I’m excited to be working with Barclays on an unprecedented project: creating a professional testing culture based on the Context-Driven principles and my Rapid Software Testing (RST) methodology. The Barclays Global Test Centre (GTC), led by Keith Klain, has hundreds of testers spread around the world. They work in a regulated industry on high stakes products. But unlike nearly every other large organization in the world, they have decided not to rely on pretense and 40 year-old ideas that were discredited 30 years ago. They are instead putting in place a system to recruit and grow highly skilled and highly motivated testers.

Barclays’ approach in the GTC is to identify and encourage dozens of testing champions in its ranks who are the role models and mentors for the rest of the group. Anyone may aspire to be in this special group, but to be recognized requires that the candidate tester demonstrate vigorous self-education and critical analysis. Some of the testers in the group began as strong skeptics of Rapid Testing. But the methodology is designed for skeptics– it is based on skill development and heuristics rather than pushing “best practices.” In Rapid Testing, the skilled tester is always in charge, not pieces of paper or officious charts.

RST requires each tester to employ his own judgment and technical analysis, much like what airlines expect of pilots, or hospitals expect of doctors. That can’t work on a large scale without a strong corporate commitment to training and personal ethics. Management must drive out fear, so that testers are willing to take the sort of risks that come from making their own decisions about test strategy. But the onus is on the testers to earn personal credibility within an internal community that can effectively police itself. Any tester, at any time, is expected to stand up and explain and defend his work.

I’m aware of only two large companies in the world that have made a commitment to this kind of professionalism, which is an altogether different sort of professionalism than the ceremonial certification variety that is promoted by most organizations. In Barclays’ case, this commitment has strong support from top management, and I have personally witnessed, in my weeks of working with them, that the testers at their Singapore operation have fire in their eyes. There are testers here who deserve to have an international reputation.