Forming the Scrum Team for Testers

Forming a scrum team with the right size and skills is important in the delivery of any product. This is a critical part of the initiation phase of an Agile project. There are multiple deliverables within each sprint, and team members will need to be self-organising with a breadth of skills.

Scrum team formation is primarily managed by the team’s product owner. The product owner carries the vision of the organisation and as the individual responsible for the product backlog, they should have the greatest insight into the skills required to deliver prioritised features. Since the scrum master is one of the first team members identified, most product owners will engage this individual in identifying skills and the people who can best deliver.

Within Scrum teams, teams members are cross-functional with the specific technical skills to complete the product. Scrum Team members also support the rest of the team. The best teams are goal oriented and have 6 team members, give or take three. Unlike traditional project teams, the testing resources are not within silos’ in a separate part of the organisation.  As a cross-functional team, the development team consists of developers, testers, solution architects, and all of the other roles required to complete the product.

Testing is an important step in the delivery of shippable features and as such will need to be planned and executed to deliver the product. These shippable features will then need to be approved by the product owner during the sprint review ceremony.

Testers are involved throughout the project, and play crucial roles within the sprint and project ceremonies.  These ceremonies include the:

  • Backlog Development,
  • Sprint Planning
  • Sprint Review, and
  • Sprint Retrospective.

Backlog Development

The product owner is responsible for taking the product vision and dissecting it into workable features. These workable features are then prioritised according to value. According to Jeff Sutherland – co-creator of the Scrum framework for Agile – business value is defined by 3 dimensions:

  • What the customer wants
  • What can be sustain-ably delivered and
  • What the team is excited about delivering

The last metric is one that is commonly overlooked and should play a large part in selecting the scrum team members, particularly those with testing skills and responsibilities. In traditional project management, testers are viewed as strict gate-keepers with little knowledge of the actual product, and little enthusiasm for the product.  While this may not always be accurate, finding scrum team members who are invested in delivering high value products for the customers within each sprint is of paramount importance.

The features in the product backlog may require specific technical skills that test team members must have. Testers should have a wide array of testing skills – developing test plans, executing and clearly identifying defects, and good communication skills for quickly providing feedback to the developers. Having specialised testing skills is important in the formation of a scrum team.

Having a diversity in testing experience is beneficial for the scrum team. Testers with experience can quickly identify blockers that will impact the prioritisation of features. Experienced testers will also have other skills such as analysis or development. These are invaluable in terms of having a better understanding of the product delivery techniques and being in a position to assist other scrum team members. Likewise, having less experienced testers on the team will enable mentor engagement and active participation in sprint delivery thus expanding their skills during the life of product delivery and for future initiatives.

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Our Book Recommendations

We found these books great for finding out more information on Agile Scrum:

Master of Agile – Agile Scrum Tester With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)

Introductory Offer: Free Course

Master of Agile – Agile Scrum Tester With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)

What is this course?

This ‘Master of Agile – Agile Scrum Tester With 59 Seconds Agile (Video Training Course)’ provides an in-depth understanding of the Agile Scrum Tester roles and responsibilities

You will explore the Agile Scrum project life-cycle, including how an Agile User Story is created, to how we know when it is ‘done’

This course is aimed at those with or without prior knowledge and experience of the Agile values and principles

During this course you will learn the tools needed to succeed as an Agile Scrum Tester

What will you learn?

You will gain an in-depth understanding of the Agile Scrum Tester roles and responsibilities, and you will be able to

  • Fully understand the role of the Agile Scrum Tester
  • Understand the roles involved in an Agile project
  • Create an effective Product Backlog
  • Effectively participate in Scrum Meetings such as the Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review and Retrospective
  • Identify the roles involves in the Scrum Team
  • Fully understand the role of the Agile Scrum Developer
  • Understand the roles involved in an Agile project
  • Create an effective Product Backlog
  • Effectively participate in Scrum Meetings such as the Daily Stand-up, Sprint Review and Retrospective
  • Identify the roles involves in the Scrum Team

What topics are covered within this course

You will cover the following topics during this course:

  1. An Introduction to Agile Project Management (Tester)
  2. The 12 Agile Principles (Tester)
  3. Introduction to Scrum (Tester)
  4. Scrum Projects (Tester)
  5. Scrum Project Roles (Tester)
  6. Quality in Agile (Tester)
  7. Acceptance Criteria and the Prioritised Product Backlog (Tester)
  8. Quality Management in Scrum (Tester)
  9. Epics and Personas (Tester)
  10. Planning in Scrum (Tester)
  11. Scrum Boards (Tester)
  12. User Stories (Tester)
  13. The Daily Scrum (Tester)
  14. The Product Backlog (Tester)
  15. Review and Retrospective (Tester)
  16. Validating a Sprint (Tester)
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