At first glance, the role of quality assurance appears to be extremely similar to that of the scrum master. The individual responsible for QA is responsible for the quality of the final deliverable of the project. This is a responsibility that any scrum master should also be sharing. In fact, in agile development, the entire team shares the responsibility of maintaining quality. But the actual operating procedures of QA and the scrum master differ even if their focuses may be the same.
The Scrum Master Has a Broader Perspective, the QA Has a Narrower Focus
The focus of QA is quite narrow while the focus of the scrum master is necessarily broad. The goal of QA is to raise quality concerns and issues with the scrum master. It is up to the scrum master to address these concerns in a way that is best for the project and least disruptive to the team. The QA may not have a full picture of the project itself, nor should they. The QA must be focused solely on quality so that they can assure that quality. Anything more would be a distraction. Comparatively, scrum master will be managing multiple aspects of the project throughout the process of development. Thus, they may not have the focus necessary to assure quality themselves, but they will have the knowledge necessary to react to the QA’s reports in an effective manner.
QA Provides a Communication Point for the Scrum Master, Scrum Team, and Product Owner
By being separate from the rest of the process, QA is able to provide a central point of communication regarding quality between the scrum master and scrum team. The QA works with the rest of the team to create test cases and interface with the product owner. This is an essential part of the development process. QA analysts must aid in the identification of issues, report on them, and ensure that they are properly resolved. Though the QA must enact changes through the scrum master, the scrum master still ultimately must address the issues that the QA raises. This doesn’t just improve effectiveness but also creates an innate system of checks-and-balances, all with the ideal goal of improving upon the project results.
The Scrum Master and QA Must Still Be Integrated in Agile Methodology
While QA may not be ultimately replaceable, there are times when QA should still be better integrated into the agile process. The process of testing should be done throughout project development in agile methodology, not just when items are “completed.” This is because the agile strategy emphasizes creating whole, working parts. Otherwise the QA team can become a roadblock in development. QA departments must also understand their role within agile development rather than moving towards more traditional methodologies; the agile development process only works when all parties involved understand the standards that each deliverable and increment will need to be held to before being considered ready for release.
Though QA may initially seem superfluous, QA fulfills a vital role that the scrum master cannot entirely replace. Ideally, QA and the scrum master should be working closely together to ensure the overall quality of the project. The scrum master may take on some of the QA’s concerns while the QA may involve themselves in some of the scrum master’s processes, but while there is overlap, there cannot be a complete replacement of either role.