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Tackle Testing Debt Incrementally

Johanna Rothman is a management consultant and author of several books used by Agile managers, including Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People, and Behind Closed Doors: Secrets of Great Management (with Esther Derby).  Recently, on StickyMinds, Rothman wrote on the subject of technical debt:
"Technical debt is the unfinished work the product development team accumulated from previous iterations or releases. This debt includes: design debt, where the design is insufficiently robust in some areas; development debt, where pieces of the code are missing; and testing debt, where tests were not developed or run against the code."
In her Sticky Minds article, Rothman proposed an incremental approach to help teams reduce the amount of testing debt on their projects.  She outlined the following practices, and her article then goes on to discuss each one:
  1. Decompose each area into several use cases or scenarios, or use your own technique to break the big area into smaller pieces.
  2. Rank these more granular areas according to risk.
  3. Develop tests in timeboxes, starting with the highest risk areas, until this release is complete.
The time of testing staff is often at a premium - this prioritized approach will allow a team to make the best use of this scarce resource.

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