Answer

Does test-driven development fall into project manager duties?

Do a project manager's duties involve discussions about acceptance test-driven development (ATDD) or test-driven development (TDD)?

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The question of whether a project manager is duty-bound to get involved with ATDD or TDD discussions is going to depend a lot on the organization and management expectations.

Certainly, it's a good idea for a project manager to understand as much as she can about the application she is project-managing. If she has many projects to manage, time may not allow for her to attend every meeting or be actively involved in all discussions involving clarifying requirements. Certainly, project manager duties are not typically expected to include the coding involved with creating the automated tests that are created with ATDD or TDD.

However, it would definitely be helpful for a project manager to understand better what ATDD and TDD are all about and how they are used. In the article Acceptance test-driven development (ATDD) explained, there's an overview of ATDD and pointers to Markus Gärtner's new book, ATDD by Example: A Practical Guide to Acceptance Test-Driven Development.

ATDD starts with a specification workshop, which is really a conversation among developers, testers and business experts aimed at clarifying requirements. This is the portion of ATDD that would probably be most beneficial for the project manager to attend and possibly facilitate. These discussions are not meant to get into technical details, but really to home in on gathering as much information as possible about the requirements and ensuring that they will be adequately and thoroughly tested. The project manager's facilitation skills would be beneficial here. Participation would also allow the project manager to stay in the loop on what's important to the customer and to keep that in mind through the project's lifecycle.

The next part of ATDD is creating and ideally automating the test cases. Overseeing these details is probably not the project manager's duty. Similarly, test-driven development is typically coding done by the development team and is not typically one of the project manager's duties.

In short, my answer would be that project manager duties include understanding what ATDD and TDD are used for, but involvement will most likely be limited to the ATDD specification workshop and not to the technical implementation details.

This was first published in November 2012

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