The QA’s Role in a Scrum Team

I remember years ago a person saying that “a QA’s job is to find bugs in the programmer’s code”. I’ve actually heard that from quite a number of people, as early as last year. I remember companies rewarding QA employees based on the number of bugs they find. I believe it’s kind of hard to keep a good relationship between QA and programmers in such environments.

In Scrum, both programmers and QA are developers, because…

  • They both run the software and click around to make sure make sure it works. They test it.
  • Programmers automate their tests. They write tests.
  • QA automate their tests. They write tests.

The nature of the tests they write are different. The programming languages they write are likely different. But they are both contributing to the product’s development. That’s why they’re both called developers.

Yes, each one leans towards different areas of software development, but they’re not working against each other. They’re collaborating. Any and all efforts going towards improving such collaboration should be potentialized. Just a few ideas:

  • If programmers are done implementing code, they can offer help with the QA efforts (testing features implemented by other programmers, writing automated tests, writing scripts that can speed up the testing process, etc.);
  • If a QA personnel are done testing what’s available, they can offer help clarifying acceptance criteria to the programmers, they can help programmers write the specs for their tests (given-when-then!);

These are just a few thoughts that I’ve been sharing at my “Testing in Agile” talk, which comes from putting that approach into practice with teams I work with.

If you’d like to get more insight into this kind of approach, please check out this great video my friend Daniel posted recently.

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