Tester in Scrum Team: key aspects, myths and challenges

Scrum framework – this agile framework, which is becoming increasingly popular in software development, brings new challenges for the testing team. In this comprehensive article, we will discuss the basic aspects of a tester’s work in a Scrum team, highlight their role in the context of Scrum, and compare it to other agile methodologies.

Scrum and Agile: A new perspective on software development

Traditional software development models have often failed in a rapidly changing environment of technology and customer requirements. Agile approaches, among which Scrum is one of the most popular, have responded to this. These approaches are changing the way teams develop software by emphasizing customer-centric development, adaptability, and effective communication. In this way, they help teams to react faster to change and achieve better results.

What is Scrum and how does it work?

Scrum is an agile project management methodology that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and rapid iteration. Its success lies in its simple but effective rules and procedures. In this past article, we discussed the agile approach. Let’s take a look at how Scrum works and what its main process is.

Scrum is an agile project management methodology

Basic components of Scrum

1. Scrum board

A scrum board is a tool or visual aid used in the Scrum methodology to track and visualize a team’s work during a sprint. This tool helps the team keep track of what’s happening, what’s been completed, and what’s left to do.

Scrum board is a tool or visual aid used in the Scrum methodology

2. Product Backlog

Product Backlog is a list of all features, tasks and requirements to be developed within a project. This list is created and maintained by Product Owner. The items in the Product Backlog are sorted by priority, with the most important ones at the top of the Scrum Board.

3. Sprint (Iteration)

A sprint is a limited period of time during which software is developed. Sprints are usually of a fixed length, for example 2 to 4 weeks. During one sprint, items from the Product Backlog are selected and worked on.

3. Sprint Planning

At the beginning of each sprint, team members are presented with a list of items from the Product Backlog that will be implemented in that sprint. The Scrum Team estimates how many items it can complete during the sprint and includes them in the Sprint Backlog.

4. Sprint Backlog

Sprint Backlog is a list of tasks and items to be executed during the current sprint. These tasks are clearly defined and assigned to individual team members.

5. Daily Scrum

Each day during the sprint, team members attend a short session called the Daily Scrum. In this meeting, each team member shares what they have been working on, what obstacles they are facing and what their plan is for the next day.

6. Sprint Review (Sprint Presentation)

At the end of each sprint, there is a Sprint Review where the Scrum Team presents the finished Product Backlog items. This meeting allows the customer or stakeholder to provide feedback.

7. Sprint Retrospective

The Sprint Evaluation is followed by a Sprint Retrospective, where the team reviews their work and identifies ways to improve in the next sprint.

Hierarchy and roles in Scrum Team

The traditional hierarchical structure in organisations is now facing new challenges and needs. Agile methods such as Scrum bring an innovative approach to team organisation and project management. In a Scrum team, hierarchy takes on a new meaning that contrasts with the old model of authority and subordination.

Scrum has defined roles such as Scrum Master, Product Owner, Development Team. A Scrum Tester is part of the development team and has specific responsibilities towards the Scrum process.The Scrum team is a collective entity where each member has a role and responsibility. The hierarchy between individual members is being refined in favour of collective responsibility. The team works together to plan and solve tasks, emphasizing self-regulation and collaboration.

Interview with Scrum master

Want to know more about Scrum? Check out the interview with Scrum master Michal, our colleague from msg life Slovakia, interviewed by Michal Hucko in his podcast Informatika s Mišom.

Click on the picture to open youtube:

Click on the image to open youtube
Click on the image to open youtube

Tester in Scrum team

More than quality control

In an agile environment, the role of the tester is much more complex and integrated than in traditional methodologies. The tester is not just a passive participant who only influences the end product. Its role starts already in the planning phase, where it helps to define acceptance criteria. This ensures that the software is testable from the start.

Quality guardian and link

The tester becomes the link between the developer and the customer. His role is not only to identify bugs, but also to provide valuable feedback to the developers and Product Owner. Collaboration and communication with the team are key factors. The Tester participates in daily Scrum meetings to identify obstacles and ambiguities related to testing and quality.

Automation and speed

An agile Scrum team needs fast feedback, and this is where the importance of automated testing becomes apparent. The tester uses automated testing tools to iteratively test functionality, ensuring that changes do not introduce new bugs into existing code. This reduces risk and ensures consistent quality.

Myths about Testers in Scrum Team

The role of a Scrum tester in a team is often full of myths and misconceptions. Here are some of the main myths:

Myth 1: A tester’s job is only to find bugs

This is one of the most common misconceptions. The role of a tester is not just about finding bugs, but encompasses the broader role of quality assurance, collaborating on test planning, defining acceptance criteria, and providing feedback on product development.

Myth 2: Testing only happens at the end of the development cycle

In Scrum, testing is an integrated part of the entire development cycle and is not left to the end. The tester works with the team throughout the sprint, from defining requirements to validating the functionality created.

Myth 3: Testing and development are separate

Scrum supports cross-functional teams where tester and developer work together on a daily basis. The tester is not separate from development, but is part of a team that works together to achieve common goals.

Myth 4: Automation will replace the need for testers

Automation is a great tool to improve testing efficiency, but it doesn’t mean that a tester is useless. The tester is responsible for the design and maintenance of automated tests, deciding what to automate and analyzing test results. Moreover, 100% automation is not efficient; manual testing remains an integral part of software development.

Myth 5: Tester has no influence on strategic product decisions

Testers have valuable insights into product quality and can contribute to strategic product decisions. Their perspective on risk and quality can influence decisions on priorities and planning.

Myth 6: The tester is isolated and has no influence on processes

In a scrum team, the tester has an active voice within the team dynamic. Works closely with other team members, discusses issues and contributes to continuous process improvement.

Myth 7: The tester is only involved in manual testing

In Scrum, there is an increased emphasis on automated testing and therefore the tester is not limited to manual testing. It also creates and manages automated tests, improving the speed and reliability of the testing process.

Myth 8: The tester has no influence on the continuous improvement process

Testers play a key role in providing feedback on the team’s processes and practices. Their insight into the development process and recommendations for improvement can affect the overall performance of the team.

Given the changes that Scrum brings to the tradition of software development, it is important to have an understanding of the role of the tester within the team and their contribution to the quality of the product and the success of the project.

Comparison of Scrum with other approaches

Comparing Scrum with other methodologies is important for deciding the appropriate approach to project management and software development.

Scrum vs. Kanban

Scrum and Kanban are two agile frameworks for managing work and projects, but they differ in several key aspects:

1. Time periods:

  • Scrum: It uses fixed periods of time called sprints.
  • Kanban: It works with a continuous flow of work without fixed periods.

2. Work planning:

  • Scrum: Work planning is set at the beginning of the sprint.
  • Kanban: Allows flexible addition and modification of tasks during the process.

3. Prioritization:

  • Scrum: The task list is locked during the sprint.
  • Kanban: Tasks are prioritized according to current needs.

4. Emphasis on speed vs. continuity:

  • Scrum: Emphasizes the speed of delivery during a sprint.
  • Kanban: It works on the principle of continuous delivery.

5. Changes and adaptation:

  • Scrum: Changes are implemented only at the end of the sprint.
  • Kanban: Allows instant customization.

Scrum is suitable for projects with clear objectives, while Kanban is flexible and suitable for continuous workflow.

Scrum vs. Waterfall:

Scrum and Waterfall are two diametrically opposed approaches to project management. Here’s how they compare in a few key areas:

1. Cycles of development:

  • Scrum: Uses an iterative approach with sprints.
  • Waterfall: works within a linear model with fixed phases (e.g., analysis, design, implementation, testing).

2. Changes during the project:

  • Scrum: It allows and even expects changes during development and is flexible.
  • Waterfall: changes are difficult and costly, and are usually rejected during project implementation.

3. Customer focus:

  • Scrum: puts the customer at the centre of the process and allows them to see results more often.
  • Waterfall: the customer only sees the results at the end of the project.

4. Testing and quality:

  • Scrum: Testing is done periodically during software development.
  • Waterfall: testing is often done after the implementation is complete.

5. Predictability and risks:

  • Scrum: Provides greater predictability and better ability to manage risks throughout the project.
  • Waterfall: can have limited predictability and risks are often identified later.

Scrum is suitable for projects with changing requirements and requires more collaboration with the customer, while Waterfall is often used for projects with fixed requirements and large systems. The choice depends on the specific project and its needs.

What is Scrumban?

Scrumban is a hybrid agile methodology that combines elements from Scrum and Kanban. This combination allows teams to manage projects and processes more flexibly, which is ideal for environments where Scrum may be too strict or Kanban too loose.

Scrum certificate and professional development

Getting a Scrum certification can be an advantage for a Scrum tester. There are several certification programs that validate expertise in Scrum and Agile methodologies. These certifications can reinforce the team’s and clients’ confidence in the tester’s abilities.

The Scrum Alliance is the premier international organization for Scrum accreditation and certification. Deepen your knowledge and find more information about Scrum Alliance certifications on their website.

Conclusion

Working as a tester in a Scrum team brings new challenges and responsibilities compared to traditional testing tasks. A Scrum Tester must not only have technical skills, but also the ability to adapt to rapid change and work collaboratively as part of a team. This is a fascinating and dynamic role within agile software development, which is constantly evolving and offers many opportunities for professional growth and development.

If you have experience in agile testing and speak German, take a look at our company benefits and respond to job offers.

About the author

Katarína Kučáková

Software Test Engineer

Moja cesta k testovaniu softvéru sa začala v roku 2019 až po štúdiu ekonómie a pracovných skúsenostiach v iných odvetviach. To mi pomohlo vnímať IT svet v rôznych súvislostiach. Ten totiž ponúka neustále nové výzvy, pre ktoré rada hľadám riešenia. Obľubujem oddych pri čítaní, turistiku alebo lyžovanie. LinkedIn

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