Test-Driven Design for the Project Manager

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Principle Practices
Don't kill the messenger
  • Provide a safe and transparent environment. Celebrate inquisitiveness.
  • Scorecard each result.
  • Provide opportunity for timely reporting. Avoid accumulating a surprise.
  • Look to the underlying cause with reasoned analysis.
Make every requirement testable; every test must relate to a requirement.
  • Decompose user stories until they are actionable. Involve users in the interpretation of stories into the actionable descriptions.
  • Link specific requirements to test, and the other way around.
  • Apply test-driven-design (TDD) techniques that translate user stories directly into test scripts.
  • Provide a means for users to understand and approve test scripts at the functional level.
Anticipate some failure and make room for correction and retest.
  • Plan effort and duration, anticipating failures and correction tasks.
  • Update a working plan from actual test results.
  • Plan regression tests that do not cause the entire iteration test series to be re-executed.
  • Allow for regression testing after refactoring.
Embrace learning.
  • Involve more than one person in the test scripting and execution. Build off of pair programming if that practice is in place.
  • Follow proven "lessons learned" techniques: Ask "Why?" at least five times to push down through a hierarchy of related reasons.
  • Apply logical reasoning:
    • Abduction: Imagine that A is a possible explanation for B, although B may have many causes.
    • Deduction: B is a likely consequence of A.
    • Induction: A is a likely antecedent or condition of B
  • Educate others on the team with the lessons learned.
  • Apply what has been learned; modify best practices where necessary.
Avoid isolation.
  • Use the buddy system. Design/implement in pairs, test in pairs, or at least engage your others for critique and advice.
  • Cross-check with others.
  • Embrace socialization: Sit together; communicate daily, if not more often; and communicate with a sense of time urgency.
  • Integrate objects into the design base often and maintain awareness of the evolution of the project.

Table 1: Test principles and practices [1]

About the author

John C. Goodpasture's picture John C. Goodpasture

John C. Goodpasture, PMP and managing principal at Square Peg Consulting, is a program manager, coach, author, and project consultant specializing in technology projects, strategic planning, and risk management. He has had senior management assignments responsible for technology R&D, business operations, and web commerce. John is the author of Project Management the Agile Way: Making It Work in the Enterprise. He blogs at johngoodpasture.com, and his work products are found in the library at www.sqpegconsulting.com.

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