Use Scrum and halve the test department!

Scrum 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 is the writer of the TMap in SCRUM book