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Old habits die hard: the importance of testing

A colleague of mine asked a question on an internal forum today about a web-based Scrum tool. This isn’t an advertisement for any tool, so I’ll not mention the name.

The importance of testing(Also, as anyone I’ve trained in Scrum will attest, I recommend a white board and sticky notes as the primary tracking tool whenever possible, even if you have a digital tool. Stick things in an online tool and you lose visibility and productivity. Don’t believe me? Give it a try yourself; the road to Agile is empirical, is it not?)

Overall the tool isn’t bad. Simple, intuitive, visual. But one thing poked me hard in the eye. On the built in task board in the tool, following the Sprint Backlog and In-progress columns, there is a column for “Testing”. Sad. I think self-organizing teams should get to decide how they’re going to perform their work, down to the individual level. Adding testing at the end of the task board seems to me to reinforce the test last mentality, which reinforces the phased based approach to development — analysis, design, development, and then testing. Scurmmerfall. This is why I recommend task boards only have Backlog, In-progress, and Done columns. The In-progress column allows the Team, and indeed individuals on the team, to decide how they’re going to get their work “Done”. Of course “Done” still needs to be defined, and for something to be truly “Done” it needs to be functional and of shippable quality, which means it has to be tested; but why test last when we know the benefits of testing first? Let the Team and individuals on the Team decide, but don’t reinforce bad habits.

A bit later in the day I came across this article that I had opened in my browser and hadn’t had a chance to read yet. Programmers Without TDD Will be Unemployable by 2022. I hope the author is wrong… about the date.

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Vernon Stinebaker

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