spreadsheet showing reliable data on the number of test cases passed, failed, and untested at a given point in time Test-based Project Progress Reporting

Deliverable-oriented project management and test-driven development can be combined to provide an objective and easily understandable way of measuring project progress for the client, team members, and management. In this article, John Ferguson Smart presents a case study of how this approach was made to work.

John Ferguson Smart
Don't Believe Everything You Read!

There are volumes of written material covering just about every aspect of software engineering. Books, articles, magazines, conference proceedings, Web sites, and other rich sources of information are readily available to those learning about our profession. However, based on personal experience and observation, Ed Weller is compelled to ask how much of this information is actually misinformation. Anytime you collect data you must proceed with caution! In this article, we'll find out why Ed questions validity and accuracy and what you can do next time you're faced with questionable material.

Ed Weller's picture Ed Weller
Significant-other Unit Version 1.0

Significant others not only provide personal support, but can also provide the objective voice that can make your work even better. Next time you're stuck with presenting an idea or writing a paper, run it past your significant other for her opinion. In this week's column, Mike Andrews talks about how he incorporates his wife's opinion into the work he produces, and how her insight improves the quality of it.

Mike Andrews
Six sigma distribution Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side of the Fence?

We may be creatures of habit—adhering to and promoting processes we know well—but we also habitually look to other work environments that appear capable of nurturing our ideas once an old environment becomes depleted. Ed Weller believes that searching for greener pastures is unnecessary. You just need to learn how to cultivate your managers in order to create an environment that will harbor your ideas. Ed explains why you'll end up grazing fruitlessly if you can't plant your ideas with management.

Ed Weller's picture Ed Weller
Experts, Craftsmen, and Ignorance

The people who are paying you to be a software developer are depending on you to know what you're doing. How can you instill in people confidence that you can deliver when you are unfamiliar with the required technology? In this week's column, Dave Hoover tells you how to build confidence by showing the people who rely on you that delivering software involves a learning process. Then allow them to watch you grow.

Dave Hoover
Why Subject Matter Experts Matter

Have you noticed that the hardest people to get and keep on a project are the subject matter experts (SMEs)? It's as if managers think that general programming or testing skills should suffice, or that the right development and testing tools are all you need. Linda Hayes observes that lately it seems the single biggest challenge has been getting quality time to define requirements and test cases from experts who understand the business domain of the application. If this is happening to you, Linda explains what you can do about it.

Linda Hayes's picture Linda Hayes
lost art of business analysis Endangered Business Analysts

Many good business analysts have evolved into strong software project managers--a natural career move accelerated by the shortage of experienced software project managers. Unfortunately, no one seems to be stepping into the analysts' vacant ecological niche. In this week's column, Payson Hall warns that business analysis is becoming a lost art. And it's the software project team ecology that is suffering the most from this trend.

Payson Hall's picture Payson Hall
Detecting Great Testers before the In-Person Interview

Resumes only tell a portion of a candidate's story just like caller ID doesn't always reveal the caller's complete identity. Screening candidates over the phone can help extract more of the person's story if you ask the right questions. In this column, Johanna Rothman shares phone-screening techniques she uses to detect great potential testers. This process of elimination saves her valuable time and ensures only qualified candidates make it to the in-person interview.

Johanna Rothman's picture Johanna Rothman
This Way, Mr. Roboto

Have you ever felt like you were going in circles trying to explain programming to nontechnical people? Simply telling them what programmers do just isn't enough. In this column, Naomi Karten demystifies the programming world by showing nontechnical people how to think like programmers?on a basic level. This seemingly intricate journey starts with a few simple directions.

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten
An Ounce of Goat or a Pound of Hero: Software Reviews and Inspections

Being a hero is great, but only if your heroism doesn't involve a situation you could have avoided in the first place. In this week's column, Harry Robinson explains that goats are to forest fires as early detection tools are to the software development process. There is a lesson about software reviews and inspections in this comparison that testers and project heroes can benefit from.

Harry Robinson's picture Harry Robinson


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