TimeLine Postmortems

We should use project postmortems to improve our software process. But few teams do, and fewer teams reliably learn from project postmortems. You can introduce postmortems to your team easily with a timeline postmortem process. If you are already doing postmortems, a timeline-based approach may improve your results.
This process:

  • Takes little time (a few hours).
  • Has a high degree of software engineer acceptance.
  • Provides immediate feedback into your development process.
  • Increases team cohesion and rapport.
  • Reduces finger pointing.
Seth Morris's picture Seth Morris
Not Your Father's Test Automation

If you think that test automation is mostly about executing tests, then you're missing out on a big opportunity. Or rather, you're missing a lot of small opportunities adding up to a big one. Consider this: stop thinking about test automation as merely executing automated tests, stop thinking about test automation as something you need expensive tools for, and start discovering automation you can implement in a couple of days and usually with extremely inexpensive tools or tools you already have available. In this week's column, Danny Faught and James Bach suggest taking a more Agile approach to test automation.

James Bach's picture James Bach
Keeping Secrets

Test data has long been a challenge for testing; privacy legislation, identify theft, and the continued trend towards outsourcing has made it even worse. Just establishing and maintaining a comprehensive test environment can take half or more of all testing time and effort. In this column, Linda Hayes adds in the new and expanding privacy laws that inevitably limit your testing options. Yet from the quagmire of laws and company standards, better testing can emerge.

Linda Hayes's picture Linda Hayes
Bumper Stickers for Testers

Why is software testing perceived as dull? How many other jobs can list "crash," "hang," and "death march" in their daily vocabularies? In this week's column, Harry Robinson encourages testers to embrace a little pride and excitement in what they do, and Harry has just the mottos for bumper stickers that announce Tester Pride. Author's note: Feel free to add your own favorite slogan in the comment section at the end!

Harry Robinson's picture Harry Robinson
Thinking Inside the Box

The problem with urging outside-the-box thinking is that many of us do a less-than-stellar job of thinking inside the box. We often fail to realize the options and opportunities that are blatantly visible inside the box that could dramatically improve our chances of success. In this column, Naomi Karten points out how we fall victim to familiar traps, such as doing things the same old (ineffective) way or discounting colleague and teammate ideas. Thinking outside of the box can generate innovative and ingenious ideas and outcomes, but the results will flop when teammates ignore the ideas inside the box.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
Preventing Late Tasks from Creating Late Projects

We like to think that being late on one task isn't so bad because early and late completions will average out over the course of an entire project. If you flip a coin 1,000 times, it will land on heads about 500 times and on tails about 500 times. If your project has 1,000 tasks, about 500 will finish early and about 500 will finish late, right? Wrong--and many project plans are sunk by this common misperception.

Mike Cohn's picture Mike Cohn
One Process is Not a Fit For All Projects

We should know that software development methods are situational, so why do so many people believe one process should work for every project? One size does not fit all and rarely do quick-fix methods help the process fit. In this week's column, Pete McBreen considers why we jump on the latest software development trend and what the fallout is when the trend and the project don't match.

Pete McBreen's picture Pete McBreen
So Many Tests, So Little Time

In this corner—A harried project manager whose testing time has just been cut in half. And in this corner—A time-honored management tool to scale back project scope and make testing tasks do-able. Johanna Rothman shows us the ropes of timeboxing and explains why time constraints don't have to be a TKO.

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman
Testers Shine on Agile Projects

Agile projects draw testers out of the background and into the spotlight. Testers play a distinctive role and drive product development by creating acceptance tests before any code is even written. Johanna Rothman sets the stage and explains the benefits of giving testers their chance to shine.

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman
Human Communication on Projects

Tackling communication issues at the start can set a project up for success. Staying alert to communication issues during a project means keeping the lines open, clear, accurate, and helpful. Then when the deadline approaches, the schedule slips, or serious problems start cropping up, issues can be confronted much more smoothly and efficiently. In this column, Eileen discusses how human communication affects projects from start to finish.

Eileen Strider's picture Eileen Strider


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