April 23, 2024

QA & Dev Teams in Scrum Cycles

The organization of QA (Quality Assurance) and development teams in Agile sprints can vary depending on the specific needs and context of the project. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and different teams may adopt different strategies. However, here are a few common scenarios:

1. Separate QA Team: In this approach, there is a dedicated QA team that operates independently from the development team. The development team focuses on writing code and implementing features during the sprint, while the QA team is responsible for testing and ensuring the quality of the developed software. This separation allows for a clear distinction of roles and responsibilities.

2. Integrated QA Team: In this approach, QA professionals are an integral part of the development team. They work closely with developers throughout the sprint, participating in activities such as planning, designing, coding, and testing. This integrated setup promotes collaboration and early detection of issues.

3. Rotating QA Responsibility: Another approach is to have individual developers take turns assuming QA responsibilities within the team. This rotation can be on a sprint-by-sprint basis or for shorter periods within the sprint. It helps distribute the QA workload and encourages developers to take ownership of quality.

Each approach has its advantages and considerations. Separating QA and development teams allows for a more specialized focus, but it may lead to handover delays and communication challenges. Integrating QA within the development team promotes collaboration but can sometimes overload team members with multiple responsibilities.

Ultimately, the choice depends on factors such as project size, team size, skill sets, project complexity, and organizational preferences. Agile principles encourage flexibility, so teams should continuously evaluate and adapt their approach to optimize efficiency and ensure high-quality software delivery.

Advantages and disadvantages when Devs and QAs work together

Overall, by working together, QA and development teams can enhance product quality, improve efficiency, foster collaboration, and ensure a shared responsibility for delivering high-quality software.

Shifting testing left refers to applying testing practice earlier in the development process. To shift left, QA should bring their testing skill to the early phase of the development, such as requirement gathering, planning, and estimation by identifying gaps in user stories, planning automated testing ahead of time, and covering edge scenarios early. QA should work in parallel with development and build test cases during sprint stories which can be automated later (preferably in the next sprint).

Shift right refers to applying testing practice at the later stage in the development process. It involves testing not just during the application release but also in deploying, configuring, operating, and monitoring applications. It also includes running tests frequently in production to identify potential issues before the customer reports them. QA should work closely with DevOps to effectively set up the infrastructure to extend their Continuous Testing culture by enabling shift right testing practices.

QA and Developers, together, can prevent workload on the QA team at the end of the sprint and reduce the risk of surprises.

Advantages and disadvantages of having QA separate from the scrum cycle

Having a separate QA team that operates outside the Scrum cycle can offer certain advantages depending on the project and organizational context.

So, which approach is more recommended for scrum teams?

The recommended approach for integrating QA and development teams in Scrum can vary depending on the specific project and team dynamics. However, the Scrum framework encourages cross-functional collaboration, and it generally aligns well with an integrated QA approach. Here are a few reasons why an integrated QA approach is often recommended for Scrum teams:

1. Agile Values and Principles: Scrum is based on Agile values and principles, which emphasize collaboration, teamwork, and frequent feedback. Integrating QA within the development team aligns with these principles, as it promotes closer collaboration, shared responsibility, and continuous feedback loops.

2. Flexibility and Adaptability: Scrum is designed to be flexible and adaptable to changing requirements and circumstances. Having QA professionals as part of the development team allows for faster adaptation to changes in priorities, requirements, and testing needs. It facilitates a more iterative and responsive development process.

3. Early and Continuous Testing: Scrum places a strong emphasis on delivering working software at the end of each sprint. By integrating QA into the development team, testing can be performed continuously throughout the sprint, rather than waiting until the end. This enables early bug detection, faster feedback, and reduces the risk of accumulating technical debt.

4. Collaboration and Communication: Effective collaboration and communication are critical in Scrum. Having QA professionals work closely with developers fosters open lines of communication, encourages regular discussions about quality, and promotes a shared understanding of the product requirements and testing needs. This collaboration helps in delivering a product that meets the desired quality standards.

When QA is part of the development team in Scrum, the Definition of Done (DoD) needs to be established and agreed upon by the entire team, including both developers and QA professionals. The DoD outlines the criteria that must be met for a user story or product increment to be considered complete and potentially shippable.

Should QA estimate during the planning meeting?

In Scrum, the planning meeting is typically focused on determining what work will be undertaken in the upcoming sprint. While it is not a strict rule, it is generally recommended that the estimation during the planning meeting is primarily done by the development team, which includes both developers and QA professionals.

Here are a few reasons behind this recommendation:

1. Expertise and Accountability: The development team, which consists of both developers and QA professionals, possesses the necessary expertise to estimate the effort required for implementing user stories and completing the planned work. They have a better understanding of the technical complexities, testing needs, and potential challenges involved in delivering a feature.

2. Collaborative Estimation: Estimation is a collaborative effort that benefits from the diverse perspectives and insights of the entire development team. Including QA professionals in the estimation process fosters a shared understanding of the work and encourages collaboration between developers and QA.

3. Accuracy and Commitment: When both developers and QA professionals are involved in the estimation, the team can create more accurate and realistic estimates. Including QA expertise helps account for testing efforts, potential defects, and other quality-related considerations. This allows the team to commit to a realistic amount of work for the sprint.

4. Ownership and Empowerment: Involving QA professionals in the estimation process empowers them to take ownership of the work and feel more engaged in the overall development process. It promotes a sense of shared responsibility for delivering high-quality software.

Ultimately, the specific approach to estimation may vary among teams. It's essential to establish a collaborative and inclusive environment where both developers and QA professionals can contribute their expertise to ensure accurate and realistic estimations.