I’m frequently asked if a Tester, Business Analyst, User Experience (UX) person, Database Analyst, or Security Expert is part of the Scrum team?
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: many people misunderstand the Scrum Guide.
Scrum Development Team Membership
The Scrum Guide has a short section called “The Development Team” which says:
The Development Team consists of professionals who do the work of delivering a potentially releasable Increment of “Done” product at the end of each Sprint. Only members of the Development Team create the Increment.
It elaborates further on the characteristics of the Team with:
- They are self-organizing. No one (not even the Scrum Master) tells the Development Team how to turn Product Backlog into Increments of potentially releasable functionality;
- Development Teams are cross-functional, with all of the skills as a team necessary to create a product Increment;
- Scrum recognizes no titles for Development Team members other than Developer, regardless of the work being performed by the person; there are no exceptions to this rule;
- Scrum recognizes no sub-teams in the Development Team, regardless of particular domains that need to be addressed like testing or business analysis; there are no exceptions to this rule; and,
- Individual Development Team members may have specialized skills and areas of focus, but accountability belongs to the Development Team as a whole;
Taken in isolation, some misinterpret the third bullet point to say that Scrum teams only include developers and don’t include Testers, Business Analysts, Usability experts, etc. They’re taking too literally the “who”, because the challenge is that the “what” of the Team characteristics contradict that viewpoint. A Scrum Development Team needs “all of the skills as a team necessary to create a product increment” and “Individual Development Team members may have specialized skills and areas of focus.”
Bottom line: the Development Team contains everyone required to get to the definition of “Done” in your business environment. So, I guess if your “Done” is untested code, then… okay, no testers. Otherwise, it includes everyone required to get the work done, for example this might include the following skills: Usability/UX, Business Analysis, Development, Test, Database, Security, etc. Sometimes having the skill doesn’t mean an extra team member – it means someone who has learned enough of another skill to help the team.
Other points to remember: that people can be members of only one Development Team; team membership is full time, and teams are stable (i.e. fixed membership over the long term, other than for normal turnover due to promotions or people leaving the company, etc).
The Scrum Guide language around teams isn’t perfect, however it’s a gross – and dangerous – misinterpretation to say that testers aren’t members of the Scrum Development team.
Related article: Choosing the Team Size in Scrum
(Image attribution: Melvin Green via FreeImages.com)