I've been working with some colleagues in my team on something we're calling the Development Foundation Assessment, or DFA.

The DFA is a short test that takes about 10 minutes or so and aims to assess your 'basic health' as a software development team or organisation. The idea is to target the parts of your process that are missing and that could have the greatest impact on your delivery capability. We wanted the test to satisfy a number of criteria that we mandated:

  • Short - should take no more than about 10 minutes to complete*
  • Applicable - should be applicable to development outfits of all shapes and sizes. From a two-man company to a two-hundred strong team*
  • Agnostic - the test shouldn't prefer any particular methodology, technology or platform (it should be just as applicable to a Java house as a .NET one.)
  • Objective - avoid subjective or emotive measures (such as trying to assess a developer's skill level)
  • Addressable - actionable items should be clearly addressable
For obvious reasons, these points really reduce the number of questions that can be asked and topics that can be covered which, hopefully, forces us to focus on things that have the largest impact. In short then, the assessment aims to identify things that we believe every development team should have, which is why we call it the Foundation assessment. We're only covering the *really core* things and getting 100% doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement!

We're just putting the finishing touches to our first set of questions and I've been building a WPF client to help us administer the tests. In fact, yesterday I was lucky enough to spend some time on a Microsoft Surface device and create an interactive version of the assessment - we put together a short video explaining the concept, check it out:

View here

In a future post I hope to talk about some of my learnings in building for Microsoft Surface and how I achieved a huge amount of code-share between the Surface and Desktop versions. Also, I think this might be the first Prism app on Surface and it will be fun to discuss why.

Uncoincidentaly, some colleagues from my team will be manning the Microsoft stand at Devweek next week (23–27 March 2009) and will have the Surface device with the DFA pilot installed and ready for you to try. Just for fun! Why not pop along, say hello and have a go at the DFA and see how you score? We'll also have a desktop version so don't be put off by the fact that the Surface looks busy :)

Alternatively, if you're an existing ADC customer and you'd like to have a shot at the pilot assessment, mention it to your ADC. If you're not an ADC customer and wish you were - find out more about the service here and/or drop me a line.

Originally posted by Josh Twist on 18th March 2009 here.