Simple question, heard quite often though, has a simple answer, yes, there is a role for testers in Scrum.
In the following I try to clarify why. And as a prerequisite a assume that we are talking about an intelligent tester, not just some simpleminded clerk who can execute ready-made scripts.
Why a tester is an asset?
- Scrum team should be omnipotent. Erm, omnipotent when it comes to delivering functional software. You need testers to have a cross-functional team.
- Testers have a different state of mind. They approach the problem from complete different angles than the developer. Tester is able to approach the System Under Test (SUT) from multiple perspectives, including but not limited to, system, functionality, user and exploitatory point of view.
- Test automation. Yes, even though TDD is a big thing, and anyone can automate test,a capable tester is a huge asset for any Scrum team. Testers have usually invested quite much in their skills regarding test automation and they know how grab the low hanging fruit for any SUT and proceed from there.
- Tech savvy testers provide valuable feedback about erroneous systems. I have experienced quite many problem cases which I could not have been able to correct had there not been a skilled test engineer to tell me how and where the system is broken.
- A human equipped with a tester mind set, given the time needed and tools required to perform exploratory testing can save you from so many problems. Not to mention money saved.
- Good testers will educate developers.
- Good testers will become excellent developers.
- Good testers can question the functionality in a different way compared to a developer.
Many of these traits are found in a tester. So, if you get a capable tester, hold onto her with every possible way you can.
What not to do with testers in your team
There is a catch too. You can easily expel a tester, make them useless and feel outsiders and ready to leave the company. They need the same care, nurturing and attitude as your ordinary developer. You should treat them equally.
And what is really important, this same goes with your developers without saying, do not tell them what to do. Whether you are within the team or outside the team, do not place any pressure on your testers either as you wouldn’t place it upon your developers. But the most important thing is, don’t put any external responsibilities, like feature acceptance gate responsibility upon them. Trust the whole team and only the team to give you the green flag.
Testers are after all a part of the team and have so much to give. Love your testers as you love your developers.