In the year 2000, Joel Spolsky wrote The Joel Test, 12 questions to quickly measure a software team. Each question can have a simple yes/no answer, and it takes about 3 minutes to use. The Joel Test has been used to help programmers evaluate their own team, as well as teams they were interviewing at.
Today I propose The Marcus Test, a simple test to guage technical leadership. You can use it to measure your own team, or to measure a team you’re considering joining.
The Marcus Test
- Do you have consistent 1:1 meetings?
- Do programming managers code less than 20% of the time?
- Are the people who supervise programmers determining their team’s salary?
- Are bugs, technical debt and refactoring tracked and openly discussed?
- Are mistakes expected, and experiments encouraged, to allow the team to learn?
- Does management view refactoring as an important part of the process?
- Are ideas accepted from anyone, not just from “appointed experts”?
- Does the team re-estimate work regularly?
- Does the team influence hiring decisions?
- Are poor performers dealt with effectively?
- Can developers interact with users/customers?
- Is the QA team integrated with developers?
Each question is a simple YES/NO question. Score a point for each YES.
Like the Joel Test, scoring 12 is perfect, and 11 is tolerable. But 10 or below and you’ve got problems.
Disagree? Did I miss something? Leave a comment below.