Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Testing, Estimates and Burndown...

Adam Feldman posted the following question to the Agile Alliance forum on LinkedIn:
In your experience, what do you all do in estimating for testing? Do you include the time expected to test the story in the points allocated for the actual story, or is this normally not included?

The second part of my question regards burn down charts. If we are not allocating points to the actual testing of the story, is the burn down chart really only telling us what is built - not what is actually complete?
The first three responses answered that testing should be part of the team effort and not an after-thought. To help Adam find a way to explain this for the team and management, I focused on the concept of DONE criteria:
The fundamental question here is "what is your DONE criteria?".

If the team's DONE criteria is built (but not tested), then the burndown and estimates do not include testing. This will lead to an optimized development team, but potentially create problems for testing and ultimate delivery. Things will get built faster, but ultimately may be delivered slower (which is not upper management's goal).

If the team's DONE criteria is delivered business value to the user/customer (the true agile definition), then the estimate and burndown includes testing effort. Testers should be part of the team, tests need to be run within the sprint, stories should be completed within the sprint including testing.

This isn't easy, but the second option is the mature one.

There are two pieces to overcoming this. You (the testing group), need to learn to work quicker and more closely with the people building. They (the developers) need to learn that DONE is defined by business value and not code complete. If "you" and "they" both overcome this, then everyone will become a "we" or "us". Testers become involved in sprint planning and review also.

I've blogged about this several times if you are curious:
Downstream testing
Tests after story closure
What to do with found bugs
How do testers fit in agile
I'm curious where the discussion thread will go over the next few days on LinkedIn. Anyone have additional thoughts?

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