Agile PM Process Grid-3.17 Test-Driven Practices


In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference”, he creates an “agile project management process grid” which describes 87 processes used in agile project management.   These processes are divided into five process groups (Initiate, Plan, Iterate, Control, and Close), which are analogous to the five process groups in traditional project management, and seven knowledge areas which can be mapped, more or less, onto the ten knowledge areas in traditional project management.

I am now covering a group of agile processes that support the “adaptive planning” knowledge area that are completed during each iteration of the project.   Process 3.15 was Burn Down Charts, Process 3.16 was Task/Kanban Boards, and this post covers process 3.17 Test-Driven Practices.

Let’s use as a point of departure the four columns used in a typical task or story board:

  1. Backlog
  2. Development (WIP)
  3. Test
  4. Completed

The basic idea of Test-Driven Practices is that “emergent designs” required by agile will be created when the tests (the third category above) are specified BEFORE stories are moved from the backlog (first category) to development (second category).   So in reality the flow of work is

  1. Backlog
  2. Specify Tests
  3. Development
  4. Test
  5. Complete

The reason why test-driven practices are used in agile is because they reduce both technical risk (i.e., through reduction in defects) AND market risk (i.e., through rapid delivery of product into the market).

And just in the way that development work is decomposed, work on tests are also decomposed so that you start with the top-level acceptance test and decompose it into unit tests.

One of the processes that promotes such decomposition in both testing and development is process 3.18 Agile Modeling, which is the subject of the next post.

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