Putting the QA in Scrum Team
John Ruck, Accusoft QA Lead
Throughout my career, just about every aspect of Software Quality Assurance (QA) has changed and evolved in everything from the tools used to support it, to the people used to ensure it, and the methodologies defined to guide it. Industry-wide, there still tends to be mass confusion as to what exactly QA should be doing and what value is added by integrating QA into their software development lifecycle. Companies are unsure what role these unique individuals should play and how to integrate them into their current teams. Too often, QA is perceived as a villain put in place to uncover how bad someone is at doing their job. Personal pride in one's work often tramples the intended value a QA team member brings to the table. This leads to poor relationships between developers and QA, erasing the overall goal to deliver a quality product the company as a whole can be proud of.
Here at Accusoft, we believe it is vital to our success as an organization that the development and QA team members work well together on a single, unified team. "All for one and one for all" mentality is used regardless of whether our job title has a QA or Developer related term in it. Incorporating QA into our Scrum teams is not like trying to combine oil and water. Each role across the team works together, collaboratively, to satisfy the requirements desired by product owners to deliver a quality product. Any failures that occur are representative of the entire team and not pinned on an individual or specific group within a team. The teams are always moving forward using any failure-like encounters as learning experiences for the team in order to avoid them in the future. This concept is actually not unique; this is how good Scrum works.
Good communication within the team plays a huge role in the team's success, and lack of it can lead to strong feelings on how team members view QA. You can find a blog on this topic written by a colleague of mine, with suggestions for effective communication between developers and QA. These are the things we coach our teams with.
While practicing effective communication within the Scrum teams, we attempt to get QA-related activities started in the development lifecycle as early and as often as possible without hindering progress. We attempt to gain a firm understanding of how and what is being developed even before its existence. We must also demonstrate clear examples and material showing the value of collaborating with QA team members on a regular basis to pave the road to successful delivery and acceptance of the product.
We always try to make our activities demonstrate we are not just some caped crusader strong-arming our way through a team's progress by pointing fingers at all bad things that occur. We always look to present meaningful results that can easily be interpreted by each team, which demonstrates our value in QA. We take the lead and coach the teams toward achieving the overall goal of delivering a quality product. We coach our QA Analysts and developers not to dwell on the discovery of defects, but instead to move forward and understand how to learn from them, test, and even prevent them in the future.
Accurate and precise facts are presented to add value across the organization in a timely manner. QA team members are always encouraged to be flexible and adapt to the latest industry standards, methodologies, and technologies as needed. I will touch on some of the change I have made more recently in my next blog post.
In the end, regardless of your role on the Scrum team, we are all human. We all aim to be successful at what we do, which requires us to be passionate about our work. We all make mistakes, but the true test comes in how we learn from our mistakes and use them to better our future. Sometimes in the software world, technology and process are put in front of people and we need reminders to help us get back to the right order: people, then process, then technology.
At Accusoft, in the short time I have been here, I have seen good, real team-building exercises help break the robotic-like mold everyday work life casts us with. It helps us realize that, regardless of title, we are part of the same Scrum team and company. We're all here for the same reason: to work together to build and deliver the best product in our industry.
John Ruck is a QA Lead for the SaaS Group at Accusoft. John is a QA expert with almost 20 years of experience in software development and software quality. He has a strong background in QA methodologies, functional test automation, and performance testing.