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Question of the Week: Is there a place for QA team members on our Scrum Teams?

Updated: May 15, 2023

Scrum requires cross-functional teams to work effectively. This means that the teams should have all members needed to produce a potentially shippable product increment. This should not be confused with having cross-functional team members. Therefore, it is OK to have dedicated team members, such as QA engineers, as long as they are all considered “developers”. This setup, however, is not optimal. By having team members dedicated to a single type of work, you are forgoing the teams’ ability to swarm. Creating T-shaped team members would allow individuals to help each other whenever needed and swarm to easy bottlenecks and remove impediments. Like the shape of a “T”, these are team members that have deep knowledge on a particular subject matter or expertise, such as testing, but also have a wide range of skills that can be put to good use whenever the team needs it. So although it’s not violating any Scrum rule, you should consider cross-training and encourage team members to take on tasks that might not be their forte and foster the “we are in this together” mindset. One quote from a recent hero of mine that exemplifies this principle comes to mind:

“I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.” - Kobe Bryant



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