April 4, 2014

Use Scrum and halve the test department!

BY :     April 4, 2014

evolutionScrum means the end for testers who do not want to change. In order to survive, the tester must adapt to the changing development environments.

With the deployment of an Agile development approach, such as the frequently used Scrum, each team member has a testing role.  Designers, programmers, managers and users are in fact all testers as well.  Therefore, it is plausible to suggest that testers are unnecessary. Does this seem short-sighted? Recently, an IT manager of a large organization suggested that the test department could be halved since they are working with Scrum. However, this IT manager should know that you can not expect all team members to suddenly have the same extensive testing skills as the experienced tester.  What if it is the other way around: a Scrum team with testers only? Would they all ‘suddenly’ be able to design and program? Probably not! Adapting to the changed circumstances will take time from all team members.

In practice it means that in a Scrum approach testers should help their team members to fulfill their roles as testers as well as possible. For example, they have to provide assistance in the preparation of high-quality user stories. The tester could teach the designer and user how to apply test evaluation techniques (e.g. INVEST model) or help the programmer with the preparation of unit tests and the user with the acceptance tests. Besides this, the tester should moderate the product risk analysis, which could be seen as one of the most important activities in a Scrum project. Because with the outcome of this analysis, the team will be able to find the balance between the investment in time (and money) on the one hand, and the risks covered on the other.

In this way and in order to survive, the test professional moves toward a catalyst for quality improvement!

Leo van der Aalst

About

Leo van der Aalst is Dutch and studied chemistry, mathematics, physics and biology. However, he switched over to IT almost thirty years ago. After having gone through the classic IT path - from programmer to program manager - he became a specialist in the testing area, in which he held functions such as test manager, test advisor, research & development manager, line manager and agile coach. Leo applied his knowledge and experience in the project- and test management field during a number of international projects and consultancy trajectories (in USA, Germany, Denmark and Austria). He also likes to share his knowledge with other people by writing books and articles, and giving presentations en workshops. Leo is co-author of TMap NEXT® for result-driven testing, TMap NEXT® Business Driven Test Management, TMap® Human Driven and TMap NEXT® in scrum books. He has written many articles (e.g. ‘Software Testing as a Service - STaaS’), which can be found through his website (http://leovanderaalst.nl). Leo is past professor Software Quality at Fontys University Eindhoven in the Netherlands, a much sought-after teacher of test training and a regular speaker at national and international conferences. Leo is an accredited trainer for courses as Certified Agile Tester (CAT), ISTQB Agile-Tester and TMap Suite Test Engineer and Test Master. Besides all this, Leo is development lead of the ISTQB Foundation and Advanced Agile-Tester Syllabi - which are chaired by Rex -, member of the programme committee of the (Dutch) National Software Quality Conference, fellow of SogetiLabs and member of Capgemini Expert Connect.

More on Leo van der Aalst.

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  1. Jos Punter · April 8, 2014 Reply

    Hi Leo,
    I got 1 question on this part of the article:
    Does this seem short-sighted? Recently, an IT manager of a large organization suggested that the test department could be halved since they are working with Scrum.
    However, this IT manager should know that you can not expect all team members to suddenly have the same extensive testing skills as the experienced tester.

    – But what if they have all the experience (not suddenly, but over time) do you think a test dep. could be halved ?

    Curious what you think.

*Opinions expressed on this blog reflect the writer’s views and not the position of the Sogeti Group