The Advantage of a Test-Focused Scrum Master

Can a scrum master-tester hybrid role make your team more agile?

There is plenty of debate about role of a tester in agile scrum. Are the skills of a tester best put to use in actually testing the software, or in trying to drive quality through defining and leading team processes? What are the best practices and tools to help ensure testing is as agile as the rest of the development process? The idea of a hybrid tester-scrum master is one that is less frequently discussed, due to the fact that there seems to be goal conflict between the delivery focus of a scrum master and the quality focus of a tester. And yet, a scrum master who practices agile testing within a fast-paced, scrum environment will enable the flexibility, decision making and visibility that is core to agile methodology.

A scrum master’s role is to help the team reach consensus, and remove impediments to progress. One advantage of having a test-focused scrum master is that they will focus on ensuring that new features and enhancements are properly designed and scoped with the end goal of successfully testing the software in mind When testing is rushed, it may not be properly completed and may carry over until the following sprint, which is contrary to the agile method. It is up to the scrum master to prevent this from happening. A scrum master who sees development as the primary goal to the exclusion of testing might feel as though QA is a roadblock to delivery. A tester/scrum master hybrid can encourage a balanced approach to quality and delivery that many other scrum masters may overlook.

Another advantage to the scrum master-tester role is that the tester is not at risk of being the last one to see the code. This highly agile approach ensures that testing and development can truly happen in parallel, preventing any hangups or surprises in the QA process and speeding up overall delivery.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, there are many advantages to a test-focused scrum master for teams for agile teams. While it may not work for every team, I definitely recommend giving it a try and seeing how it impacts your productivity and product quality — the results may surprise you.

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