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Adopt TDD for a smooth Scrum experience for your teams

As you might already be aware, TDD stands for Test Driven Development. Adoption of TDD is a key factor for the success of your Scrum teams and in turn for your success as a Scrum Master. I will explain the why and how of TDD and how it helps smoothen Scrum experience in this article. As you might be already doing, with Scrum approach, there are no grandiose design sessions/detailed designs done up-front but the focus is getting working pieces of code out and fail fast if there are any issues. The key reason being – designs change as you progress with the development of code and your code should be flexible enough to absorb major or minor changes until towards end of the development. If complete designs are done up-front to the detailed level, code is written assuming the designs are concrete and becomes rigid. This type of code can’t accept changes easily and as every developer is aware, changes to requirements are very common during implementation cycle.  A framework that can help the Scrum teams accept the changes easily, make the changes and quickly assess the effects of these changes can help alleviate these issues. Once the impacts are clear, it doesn’t take too long to get the implementation back to stable state. TDD provides one such framework for Agile development.  TDD (Test Driven Development) Following is the broad outline of adopting TDD during development. I will take developing APIs for a product as an example, which can be easily extended to other use cases. Do a high-level design of the components and APIs you are going to have. Prepare the interfaces against which you can write tests. Adopt a framework like JUnits for writing your test cases. Get the developers up-to-speed on writing these unit tests. For whatever components you are developing APIs, create a skeleton of tests and test cases. Normally, you would write a set of positive and negative test cases. This is the first step even before you write a single piece of implantation code. Make sure majority of the unit test cases are covered in this round of skeletal test cases. Implement the APIs with no code, i.e. now they can be called but will not yet return proper values. For example, they may return nulls where an object is expected. Since implementation of APIs is not yet ready, all of your tests will fail. That’s ok to start with. Now as development of APIs progresses, test cases will start to succeed. At the end of, say, sprint #1, you may have 20% of your test cases working. In parallel, add more or update your test cases to handle more complex usages of the APIs. The goal is to get 100% success rate of test cases, which should happen as the development is completed and more code is added. For example, this is how your tests may look to begin with:     @Test     public void testSingleObjectCreate() throws Exception     {       Object a = createObject(...);         Assert.assertNotNull(a);     }     @Test     public void testMultipleObjectsCreate() throws Exception     {       Object [] objs = createObjects(...);         Assert.assertNotNull(objs);     }     @Test     public void testSingleObjectReplace() throws Exception     {       Object replacedA = replaceObject(a);         Assert.assertNotNull(replacedA);     }     @Test     public void testMultipleObjectsReplace() throws Exception     {       Object[] updatedObjs = replaceObject(objs);         Assert.assertNotNull(updatedObjs);     }          @Test     public void testSingleObjectDelete() throws Exception     {       boolean deleted = deleteObject(a);         Assert.assertTrue(deleted);     }     Note that all of these tests will fail to begin since APIs are not yet implemented. Your goal is to get all of the tests passing incrementally, by implementing the underlying functionality. Once this set of test suites are built, they can become part of a continuous integration setup and are run as soon as changes are submitted to the source code system, giving an immediate feedback on whether there are test cases failing because of new code that is delivered. Following diagram summarizes this approach:   How does this help your Scrum team? TDD can augment Scrum processes in 3 ways: Ability to absorb changes to code on a continuous basis. Fail fast: Failures happen sooner than later. Reduce technical debt Let me cover details of each of these points. Ability to absorb changes to code on a continuous basis: As a Scrum Master, your job is to make sure that the working code gets produced at the end of each sprint and minimize the technical debt for going forward. At the same time, you want the code to be flexible so that changes can be accepted on a continual basis to improve the existing code or be able to absorb new changes, based on product owner or stakeholder feedback. This is especially important since you don’t get into detailed designs up-front and absorb changes as you progress to make implementation better. Having the suite of unit tests is one of your weapons in the war chest to make this happen – after all, code which is delivered at the end of release but doesn’t address the key requirements is of not of much use. Take this case – in the midst of development, one of the developers changes the inner workings of one of the APIs and now it fails for a given set of inputs (which used to work before the change). Now your unit test which depended on the success status of API starts to fail, giving you an immediate indication of the change. However, developer can take the risk of the change, knowing that the test framework will catch any side effects of such a change. As a second case, say half-way through the development cycle, there is a need for major change that impacts majority of the components. Unless you have a suite of test cases backing you, you just don’t know the impact and how much additional work is possibly required. (Knowing your developers, you know how hard it is to get a proper estimate of additional work!). Instead, now you can depend on your test suites and see how many are failing when the changes are put in place – if there are a large set of test cases failing, you are most likely looking at a larger impact change to the whole sprint and need to re-access the scope and priorities. Additionally, it makes everybody in the team aware of the impacts.  Fail fast - Failures happen sooner than later: Adopting TDD facilitates one of the key principles of Scrum – fail fast. With TDD, you start with failing tests, make them work as you progress and make sure they won’t fail again due to some unexpected changes. If there are such failures, your TDD set of tests alert you immediately. Knowing there is such a framework, developers will be more open to changes – since failures are caught immediately. Overall, this becomes a mechanism which gives a quick feedback on the impacts of a change and makes developers open for adopting the changes rather than shying away from taking the risk of late changes to the system. Reduce creation of Technical Debt: If developers can’t absorb changes fast enough, you will run out of time during sprint to do further changes. Pushing required changes out of sprint and eventually out of a release leads to the technical debt of future changes and re-work, which is not a desired outcome for any Scrum Master. Having a framework to facilitate quick changes avoids creation of technical debt. Key is to start with TDD from day one One of the key factors is to start with TDD from day 1 – it must not be an afterthought to be added after the code implementation. For any new code, tests should be written first, let them fail and implement code to make the tests work. For a Scrum Master, it is a key that developers are creating tasks to add unit tests for a given user story and have mechanisms in-place to continuously validate the code using build frameworks. Combining TDD with Code coverage can be very powerful TDD approach when used along with code coverage tools provides a very powerful combination to make sure your code base is stable all the time and all parts of the code are being tested. Greater the code coverage, better confidence you have to do drastic changes to your implementation code. For example, the following screenshot of code coverage shows which parts of the code are being exercised (green) versus which are not (in red). More unit tests need to get added to provide coverage for the code paths not being tested. Adopting TDD for existing products TDD can be adopted for existing product code as well, which lacks unit test coverage. It is not usually productive to add tests for existing code unless major changes are planned. Tests can be added to the incremental functionality that is being added, being aware that you may impact the existing code and may not know if you have caused failures in the already existing code. TDD Tools There are several tools that are available in the market, which help in TDD adoption. For unit testing of Java code, JUnit framework is the best choice. For continuous build and test, frameworks like Cruise Control or tools like Jenkins can be used. Code Coverage can be analyzed using tools like Emma and Clover. These have Eclipse plugins available as well. In conclusion, adopting TDD goes a long way in ensuring code quality is maintained in the long run and changes can be done to the codebase ensuring continuously working software. This essentially gives control for your Scrum teams to manage the software better and address the end user needs quickly.

Adopt TDD for a smooth Scrum experience for your teams

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Adopt TDD for a smooth Scrum experience for your teams

As you might already be aware, TDD stands for Test Driven Development. Adoption of TDD is a key factor for the success of your Scrum teams and in turn for your success as a Scrum Master. I will explain the why and how of TDD and how it helps smoothen Scrum experience in this article.

As you might be already doing, with Scrum approach, there are no grandiose design sessions/detailed designs done up-front but the focus is getting working pieces of code out and fail fast if there are any issues. The key reason being – designs change as you progress with the development of code and your code should be flexible enough to absorb major or minor changes until towards end of the development. If complete designs are done up-front to the detailed level, code is written assuming the designs are concrete and becomes rigid. This type of code can’t accept changes easily and as every developer is aware, changes to requirements are very common during implementation cycle. 

A framework that can help the Scrum teams accept the changes easily, make the changes and quickly assess the effects of these changes can help alleviate these issues. Once the impacts are clear, it doesn’t take too long to get the implementation back to stable state. TDD provides one such framework for Agile development. 

TDD (Test Driven Development)

Following is the broad outline of adopting TDD during development. I will take developing APIs for a product as an example, which can be easily extended to other use cases.

  • Do a high-level design of the components and APIs you are going to have. Prepare the interfaces against which you can write tests.
  • Adopt a framework like JUnits for writing your test cases. Get the developers up-to-speed on writing these unit tests.
  • For whatever components you are developing APIs, create a skeleton of tests and test cases. Normally, you would write a set of positive and negative test cases. This is the first step even before you write a single piece of implantation code. Make sure majority of the unit test cases are covered in this round of skeletal test cases.
  • Implement the APIs with no code, i.e. now they can be called but will not yet return proper values. For example, they may return nulls where an object is expected.
  • Since implementation of APIs is not yet ready, all of your tests will fail. That’s ok to start with.
  • Now as development of APIs progresses, test cases will start to succeed. At the end of, say, sprint #1, you may have 20% of your test cases working. In parallel, add more or update your test cases to handle more complex usages of the APIs.
  • The goal is to get 100% success rate of test cases, which should happen as the development is completed and more code is added.

For example, this is how your tests may look to begin with:

    @Test
    public void testSingleObjectCreate() throws Exception
    {
      Object a = createObject(...);
        Assert.assertNotNull(a);
    }

    @Test
    public void testMultipleObjectsCreate() throws Exception
    {
      Object [] objs = createObjects(...);
        Assert.assertNotNull(objs);
    }

    @Test
    public void testSingleObjectReplace() throws Exception
    {
      Object replacedA = replaceObject(a);
        Assert.assertNotNull(replacedA);
    }

    @Test
    public void testMultipleObjectsReplace() throws Exception
    {
      Object[] updatedObjs = replaceObject(objs);
        Assert.assertNotNull(updatedObjs);
    }
    
    @Test
    public void testSingleObjectDelete() throws Exception
    {
      boolean deleted = deleteObject(a);
        Assert.assertTrue(deleted);
    }    

Note that all of these tests will fail to begin since APIs are not yet implemented. Your goal is to get all of the tests passing incrementally, by implementing the underlying functionality.

Once this set of test suites are built, they can become part of a continuous integration setup and are run as soon as changes are submitted to the source code system, giving an immediate feedback on whether there are test cases failing because of new code that is delivered.

Following diagram summarizes this approach:


 

How does this help your Scrum team?
TDD can augment Scrum processes in 3 ways:

  • Ability to absorb changes to code on a continuous basis.
  • Fail fast: Failures happen sooner than later.
  • Reduce technical debt

Let me cover details of each of these points.

Ability to absorb changes to code on a continuous basis: As a Scrum Master, your job is to make sure that the working code gets produced at the end of each sprint and minimize the technical debt for going forward. At the same time, you want the code to be flexible so that changes can be accepted on a continual basis to improve the existing code or be able to absorb new changes, based on product owner or stakeholder feedback. This is especially important since you don’t get into detailed designs up-front and absorb changes as you progress to make implementation better. Having the suite of unit tests is one of your weapons in the war chest to make this happen – after all, code which is delivered at the end of release but doesn’t address the key requirements is of not of much use.

Take this case – in the midst of development, one of the developers changes the inner workings of one of the APIs and now it fails for a given set of inputs (which used to work before the change). Now your unit test which depended on the success status of API starts to fail, giving you an immediate indication of the change. However, developer can take the risk of the change, knowing that the test framework will catch any side effects of such a change.

As a second case, say half-way through the development cycle, there is a need for major change that impacts majority of the components. Unless you have a suite of test cases backing you, you just don’t know the impact and how much additional work is possibly required. (Knowing your developers, you know how hard it is to get a proper estimate of additional work!). Instead, now you can depend on your test suites and see how many are failing when the changes are put in place – if there are a large set of test cases failing, you are most likely looking at a larger impact change to the whole sprint and need to re-access the scope and priorities. Additionally, it makes everybody in the team aware of the impacts. 

Fail fast - Failures happen sooner than later: Adopting TDD facilitates one of the key principles of Scrum – fail fast. With TDD, you start with failing tests, make them work as you progress and make sure they won’t fail again due to some unexpected changes. If there are such failures, your TDD set of tests alert you immediately. Knowing there is such a framework, developers will be more open to changes – since failures are caught immediately. Overall, this becomes a mechanism which gives a quick feedback on the impacts of a change and makes developers open for adopting the changes rather than shying away from taking the risk of late changes to the system.

Reduce creation of Technical Debt: If developers can’t absorb changes fast enough, you will run out of time during sprint to do further changes. Pushing required changes out of sprint and eventually out of a release leads to the technical debt of future changes and re-work, which is not a desired outcome for any Scrum Master. Having a framework to facilitate quick changes avoids creation of technical debt.

Key is to start with TDD from day one
One of the key factors is to start with TDD from day 1 – it must not be an afterthought to be added after the code implementation. For any new code, tests should be written first, let them fail and implement code to make the tests work. For a Scrum Master, it is a key that developers are creating tasks to add unit tests for a given user story and have mechanisms in-place to continuously validate the code using build frameworks.

Combining TDD with Code coverage can be very powerful
TDD approach when used along with code coverage tools provides a very powerful combination to make sure your code base is stable all the time and all parts of the code are being tested. Greater the code coverage, better confidence you have to do drastic changes to your implementation code.
For example, the following screenshot of code coverage shows which parts of the code are being exercised (green) versus which are not (in red). More unit tests need to get added to provide coverage for the code paths not being tested.



Adopting TDD for existing products
TDD can be adopted for existing product code as well, which lacks unit test coverage. It is not usually productive to add tests for existing code unless major changes are planned. Tests can be added to the incremental functionality that is being added, being aware that you may impact the existing code and may not know if you have caused failures in the already existing code.

TDD Tools

  • There are several tools that are available in the market, which help in TDD adoption.
  • For unit testing of Java code, JUnit framework is the best choice.
  • For continuous build and test, frameworks like Cruise Control or tools like Jenkins can be used.
  • Code Coverage can be analyzed using tools like Emma and Clover. These have Eclipse plugins available as well.

In conclusion, adopting TDD goes a long way in ensuring code quality is maintained in the long run and changes can be done to the codebase ensuring continuously working software. This essentially gives control for your Scrum teams to manage the software better and address the end user needs quickly.

Mohana

Mohana Kera

Blog Author

Mohana Kera is Senior technical leader with strong hands-on technology experience and in-depth experience in building Scrum teams and doing multiple product releases using Scrum. He has more than 10 years of experience in Agile methodologies and has worked with large cross-geo teams for product deliveries. He has effectively employed Agile(Scrum) method to build cohesive development teams, address efficiency issues and deliver projects on time and effectively, from a startup to multinational corporation, working with small to large teams.
 

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Our blog regularly provides insights about the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), like 4 main features that enable SAFe®. You can also go through an article stating the benefits of SAFe® Agilist certification. Also, we recently published a specific article about the benefits to get the SAFe® 4.5 Certification, and here we give some details about the Leading SAFe® 4.6.What is SAFe®? When any large organization wants to go Agile, it can hardly skip the Scaled Agile Framework ® (SAFe®). Now, this framework has become the world’s leading framework for companies that target to scale Agile. Also, SAFe® is described as the “Agile Enterprise Big Picture”, as it helps to apply Agile and Lean practices and principles to the whole organization, from the Team to the Portfolio level.Benefits of the SAFe® certification For any professional, being SAFe® certified brings recognition to be able to support all kinds of organizations in their Lean and/or Agile transformation. Indeed, SAFe® is the most used framework for scaling Agile, especially in big companies like the ones listed in the US Fortune 100. Consequently, holding a SAFe® certification makes a candidate profile very attractive compared to employers’ expectations.Accreditation body of SAFe®The Scaled Agile Framework® (SAFe®) has an official certifying body: Scaled Agile, Inc. This accreditation body guarantees “ a valid, reliable, and consistent method of assessing SAFe® skills, knowledge, and mindset “ (read more About SAFe® Certification).Salary of the SAFe® certifiedSalary for SAFe® certified professionals can vary across regions and experience:EuropeIndiaUnited StatesAgile Coach€ 70,000Rs 2,220,000$135,000Product Owner€ 80,000Rs 1,900,000$115,000Scrum Master€ 55,000Rs 1,220,000$95,000Software Engineer€ 60,000Rs 1,630,000$75,000Job roles/Target audience of the SAFe® certificationThe target audience of the SAFe® certification is wide and covers all these positions:         Executives and Leaders, Managers, Directors, CIOs, and VPs         Development, QA, and Infrastructure Management         Program and Project Managers         Product and Product Line Management         Portfolio Managers, PMO, and Process Leads         Enterprise, System, and Solution ArchitectsStatistics related to SAFe® certification(Note: All the data mentioned here is provided by payscaleEuropeIndiaUnited StatesGenderFemale: 10%Male: 90%Female: 40%Male: 60%Years of experiencePopular companiesDeutsche BankINGBNPViseoPhilipsOmicron4Com TechnologiesMotorolaAir France KLMCA, Inc.Syntel, Inc.Tata Consultancy Services LimitedInfosys LimitedAccentureJohnson ControlsFederal Express Corporation (FedEx)Cap GeminiUsaa InsuranceVencore, Inc.TechSmith CorporationJohnson ControlsSAFe® Agilist Exam details1. What is the format of the exam?The SAFe® certification exam is in the Multiple Choice Questions format2. How is the exam delivered?The exam is Web-based (single-browser), closed book, no outside assistance, timed.3. How to get access to the exam? Once they have completed the Leading SAFe® course, candidates can access the exam. For this, they will use the SAFe® Community Platform. 4. How long is the exam?The exam duration is 90 minutes.5. How many questions? The SAFe® exam consists of a total of 45 questions.6. What is the passing score? 34 out of 45 (75% passing score). 7. What is the exam language?English. 8. How much does the exam cost?The course registration fee covers the first exam attempt, provided that the candidate takes the exam within 30 days of course completion. Then, it will cost $50 for any additional attempt.9. What are the exam prerequisites? There are two main prerequisites to take the exam. First is to have an experience using the Scrum framework, the second is to have more than five years in one or several of these fields: project or product management, business analysis, software development.10. What is the exam retake policy of the exam?A first retake, meaning a second attempt on the exam, can be done at any moment after a first attempt. In case of a third attempt, candidates have to wait for 10 days and in case of a fourth attempt, they have to wait for 30 days.Leading SAFe® 4.6 Exam preparation SAFe® Agilist Certification exam questionsHere are some of the questions that might be helpful in exam preparation- How to run agile on multiple teams?How to synchronize the work of these teams?How to prioritize organizational demands?How to scale an agile architecture?How to deal with risks in an agile way?Agile and governance, is it possible?Can you highlight the addition and changes in 4-level with 3-level SAFe® 4.0?Can you define a System Team?Can you explain the difference/relationship between a Value Stream and an ART?What is the key to crossing back in forth or connecting the various levels of SAFe®?What is the difference between a Capability and an Epic or Theme?Why would you decentralize decision making? Doesn’t this disempower the product owner or cause confusion about who is the final decision-maker?Are there any reasons that Scrumban would not work with SAFe®?We have some applications that use Scrum delivery practices and some that are milestone driven (waterfall). Can SAFe® 4.0 support both epic and user story management planning, backlog prioritization for Scrum teams, as well as requirements management for our waterfall teams (until they transition to agile)?Some teams may run continuous integrations while others not. How can we balance this if we have a fixed Program Increment timeline?Is SAFe® making it more complex and less agile (e.g., more rigid, additional control)?Exam study materialsKnowledge and skill required by the job role are primarily measured by the exam. In order to prepare well for the exam, candidates can use various online resources like these ones:The course materials are one of the most important components from the course because they offer an opportunity to refer back to the content delivered during the class. All candidates can access to it within the SAFe® Community Platform.The Study guide delivers comprehensive details about the job role and the exam, like a reading list. Here again, it is accessible via the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform.Another element of the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform is the Practice test. It offers predictability of success on the exam because it works with similar time duration and level of difficulty and provides the same number of questions.You can go through the SAFe® sample test that contains 8 questions that will help you in SAFe® 4.6 certification exam preparation.Ways of earning Leading SAFe® 4.6 certificationAttend the courseCourse completion is the first step toward SAFe® certification.Scaled Agile training classes are designed with the learner in mind. Incorporating active learning techniques with a robust role-based curriculum is a great start to the SAFe® learning journey.Receive access to the SAFe® Community Platform after the class, which provides access to study materials & the exam.Study for the examDetailed exam study guides are available to help prepare for the exam and are part of the Learning Plan provided to candidates on the SAFe® Community Platform. Each study guide provides relevant and content-specific exam information, such as the certification role description, prerequisite skills and knowledge, exam objectives, and a comprehensive reading list.Practice tests can help prepare for the exam and are part of the Learning Plan on the SAFe® Community Platform. With a practice test, candidates can ‘test before the test.’ It simulates the actual certification exam in duration, difficulty, and topic area. Passing the practice test does not guarantee to pass the certification exam, but it provides a testing simulation, and the score report can be used to identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses. Practice tests are available at no additional charge, delivered through the Learning Plan in the SAFe® Community Platform, and can be taken as many times as needed. Note that the testers will receive the same bank of questions each time, but the questions will be randomized.Sample tests provide the examples of the type and format of the questions to expect on the certification exam. They are publicly available for all exams under Exam Details on each certification detail page.Leverage experience. It’s more than being book smart. Scaled Agile exams test specific knowledge, skill, experience, and attitudes related to each SAFe® job role. Combining a person’s learning and studying with their real-world experiences is a key to becoming SAFe® Certified.Take the ExamA link to the exam is included in the Learning Plan on the SAFe® Community Platform.Candidates have 30 days after course completion to take the exam at no additional charge. However, once they start the exam, they’ll have a fixed time to complete it.Complete exam information, including exam time limit, number of questions, and a sample test, is available for all the exams under Exam Details on each certification official page.What will you get on passing the SAFe® 4 Agilist exam?Becoming a Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist requires an exceptional range of skills and is a career path for many servant leaders (Scrum Masters). SAFe® 4 Agilist certification includes:Getting the Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist PDF certificateGetting the Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist  digital badge. Any candidate can promote their accomplishment onlineNote: Digital badge permits individuals to share authentic certifications online through email signatures, digital resumes, and social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Digital badging consists of metadata that indicates a Certified SAFe® professional’s qualifications. Scaled Agile has partnered with Acclaim to provide digital versions of SAFe® certifications.Getting one-year membership to the SAFe® Community Platform. It also includes access to the SA Community of PracticeGetting access to Meetup groups and events that connect you with other SAFe® certified professionalsNote: SAFe® Meetups provides opportunities to the SAFe® certified across the globe. SAFe® Meetups allows to connect with each other face-to-face, share best practices (sometimes SAFe® experts attend or speak in these sessions to enable learning), and gain knowledge on Scaled Agile Framework in a local setting.Getting access to a variety of learning resources to support you during your SAFe® journey.Summing It UpFor professionals who are looking for career development in the Agile field, SAFe® certification can be the most relevant option today. It gives a guarantee to the companies that they hire individuals with the skills required to scale Agile and a strong knowledge of the SAFe® environment. On top of that, it is important to know that a large majority of big enterprises have implemented SAFe® and that the hunt for SAFe® certified professionals is still very active.
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