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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Is a QA Engineer necessary on a small team?

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  • Mark Striebeck
    For a team of this size, I would add a QA person. But not a QA person in the more traditional sense (aka black box tester who writes long test docs and clicks
    Message 1 of 42 , Feb 2, 2006
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      For a team of this size, I would add a QA person. But not a QA person in the more traditional sense (aka black box tester who writes long test docs and clicks manually through the app and files bugs).

      Agile testers have a different role. Instead of checking after the fact if the code meets some quality standards, they support the team in developing with high quality and make sure that the code doesn't degenerate. In our teams, the QA people usually have the following tasks:

      - support the product owner in writing acceptance tests (which should not be: write the acceptance tests for them, but it should be a collaborative approach)
      - during sprint planning, add effort estimates for testing features
      - when an engineer starts with a task, sit with the engineer and work on test cases (in addition to the acceptance tests)
      - either pair with the engineer or work in parallel to implement the tests

      The crux is that you need a QA person which is
      a) NOT married to the idea of QA as a service or QA as the gate keeper for release
      b)  has a very good understanding of testing your type of application (not just the black box testing)
      c) technical enough so that he/she can implement automated tests in JUnit (or whatever you are using, e.g. JWebUnit) or Fit

      We found that these people are still hard to find. But if you have them, they add a lot of value to the team.

      The difference that I have seen is that engineers think about a feature in terms of implementation (DB schema, classes, transactions, ...) QA people think about a feature in terms of tests and impact to other features. And that different perspective makes a huge difference.

         MarkS

      On 2/1/06, Obone Kanobe <obone_kanobe@...> wrote:
      Hi All,
      I currently lead a small team of 7 developers and one dba. We work on small to enterprise size applications using J2EE and PHP.  I would like to hire a QA engineer to join the team. However, my boss told me that he thinks its better for me to get an additional developer than a QA engineer. He believes that rather than hiring a QA engineer, I and my developers should be  responsibilities for all QA activities.

      I was wondering what you all think about this subject?
      Also, if you agree with me, then any pointers on how to make my case to the boss will be most apreciated.

      best regards,
      OB


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    • David H.
      ... I know :) But that is exactly my point. When all of the people refuse to work together, customer, business unit, analysis, the quality of the product will
      Message 42 of 42 , Feb 7, 2006
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        Steven Gordon wrote:
        > On 2/7/06, David H. <dmalloc@...> wrote:
        >> I do agree that people need to realise that most quality issues originate
        >> much
        >> higher up. Most of the time when the requirements are gathered.
        >
        >
        > David,
        >
        > In Scrum, when are the requirements "gathered"? Who participates? It's not
        > like a waterfall process where we can go blame some analyst.
        >
        I know :)
        But that is exactly my point. When all of the people refuse to work together,
        customer, business unit, analysis, the quality of the product will suffer.
        Often enough some software department has to deal with developing software for
        a domain they know nothing about. Yet there is no insider they are allowed to
        talk to. Now what will that do to Quality ?

        > It would be a process smell if the team depended on the QA person to ask the
        > difficult questions while all the developers just sat there daydreaming
        > about how they were going to code it.
        >
        Actually I was more thinking that the QA person is there to kick off the
        important act of questioning yourself. I do look at this from a more
        philosophical point of view than a technical one. Everyone can be the QA
        person in a team and I hope that all of us have a QA person in us. I know that
        I do QA aspects whenever I am Scrum Master for a project. However it helps
        when someone steps up and states. "Yepp I will have an eye on it, maybe more
        so than others"

        > If the developers cannot ask the right questions, the solution is not to
        > depend on somebody else to ask them, but to integrate somebody into the
        > team who can show them how.

        Yes, see above, I do believe we agree here.

        > Integrating that person into the team would
        > mean they do not do all the QA work and they do not just do QA work. If you
        > do not integrate that person, then the cross-training will be much less
        > effective.
        >
        Once more, yes, yes, yes :)

        -d
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