The original Joel Test is a work of genius – it allowed you to assess the quality of your development teams in under 5 minutes. By answering the yes/no questions, it steered you into thinking through each of the points and understand weak points in your process.
It was written in August 2000 (that’s before Windows XP was even released) and is still very relevant today, which suggests that a lot of IT teams are still making the same mistakes they were making 18 years ago.
I’ve heard one developer sum up the Joel Test perfectly when he said, “the beauty of the Joel Test is its simplicity vs its effectiveness”.
Just as the original did, these tests deliberately cover the basics. I have intentionally not included tests such as “are you agile?” or “do you do DevOps?” as a lot of people misunderstand these concepts and unfortunately they sometimes get thrown around as management buzz-words.
Just for the record, I have worked mainly as a data warehouse & BI developer for financial services firms in London, within IT teams ranging from 2 people to 100s; if I had spent my career working as a web developer for Facebook or Amazon then I’m sure my tests would be quite different.
Remember, Yes = 1 point. No = 0 points.
11 or 12 points
Keep doing what you’re doing
8, 9 or 10 points
Keep going but analyse where you can gain efficiencies
7 or under
Stop what you’re doing, call a team meeting and make a plan
01 – Does your team have a goal… and do all your team members know what it is?
Do your team members also know what their individual goals are and those of the company?
This is universal and applies to any team/individual and is not really about having goals – which all companies will have – it’s about whether or not they are being communicated down the layers and making sure everyone is striving for the same success.
Benefits of having clearly understood goals
- Much more cohesion between teams when people pull in the same direction.
- Goal-relevant activities take up a lot more of the overall effort than goal-irrelevant activities.
- Managers cannot motivate teams by assigning out a series of seemingly unconnected tasks.