The TMMi model delivers a framework and a vocabulary that defines all of the components needed for a healthy test ecosystem. Organizations typically use the TMMi in two different ways.  The first is as a set of patterns to guide the development of a test organization and/or improving an organization. The second is as a tool for assessing how testing is performed.

The TMMi can be used as a pattern or a set of patterns for process improvement. Each process area can be used as a starting point to implement a related set of practices that can used to define a specific capability needed to test effectively. For example, one of the Level Two process areas is the Test Environment.  This process area has two specific goals.  The first is to develop the requirements for the test environment and the second is to implement those requirements. The seven specific practices defined to satisfy the Test Environment process area provide an outline for developing the requirements and building a test environment. In a process improvement mode, the model is meant to provide a list of best practices to help determine how the test environment can be improved.  How (or if) any organization implements a specific practice depends on the needs and culture of the organization.

The second common use of the TMMi model is a benchmark for organizational appraisal. Appraisals are done by comparing an organization’s documented process and performance against the model.  The goal of an appraisal is to determine the degree to which the organization’s performance has satisfied the goals of the model. Formal appraisals return a rating against a maturity level in the model. For example the TMMI Foundation website indicates that Tech Mahindra, a major Indian service provider, recently was appraised at TMMi Level 5.   The results of formal appraisals are often used as a mechanism to communicate capability to clients and to other organizations.

The output of all appraisals is a set of improvement opportunities.  The deep dive required for an appraisal provides an organization with a baseline of performance that can be reviewed to identify areas that can be done better. The baseline also provides a proverbial line in the sand to determine if process improvements are actually improving the testing processes.

The TMMi can be used a tool to guide process improvement, a tool to verify capability by comparison to an independent model of best practices or as a tool to do both at the same time!  It is critical to remember when using the TMMi (or any appraisable model) that the model is not goal, but rather that the goal is effective and efficient testing that supports the delivery of quality software. Using Agile words…the goal is the delivery of valuable software.