Selling Test-Driven Projects

One day in 2001 my life changed: at the university where I was studying computer science I was exposed to JUnit. I do not remember the exact day when I became "test infected" but on November 27, 2001 I committed the first lines of what would become PHPUnit to the CVS repository at cvs.php.net.

Not long after I released the first version of PHPUnit, I started to present on unit testing PHP code at conferences. Back then there was not a lot of interest in testing PHP code in general and using PHPUnit in particular. Thankfully this has changed over the years and for quite some time now I have not met a PHP developer, be it at a conference, a user group event, or at a customer, that had never heard of PHPUnit before. Not all of these developers have actually used PHPUnit or get to use it in all their projects. But they have heard of the concept of unit testing and know the tools to apply it in the PHP world.

The questions that I get asked after presentations on PHPUnit are no longer purely technical ("How do I test X under circumstance Y?") in nature. The more common – and harder – questions these days deal with introducing quality assurance in general and test-based development in particular into an organization. "How do I convince my manager that I should write unit tests for my code?" or "How can we sell test-driven development to our customer?" are common examples of such questions. These questions cannot be answered with technology and tools.

The developers need to make the case that automated testing is economically reasonable. To achieve this they need to know how to calculate the value (and the cost) of automated testing as well as the risk of not doing automated testing. In addition to this data they also need the communication skills required to convince the business of the benefits they hope to gain from introducing automated testing into their organization.

Judith Andresen has written a wonderful book ("Selling Test-Driven Projects") that shares her experience with the rest of the world. With this book developers will learn how to "sell test-driven projects" to the rest of their organization.

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Sebastian Bergmann
Sebastian Bergmann
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