Multiple roles

Posted by Doc
Jun 07 2009

When we talk about the roles on an agile team, we’re generally pretty clear about what we mean. Not perfectly clear, of course, but pretty clear.

So imagine my surprise when I get to a client that has one person filling the roles of Product Owner, Business Analyst, and QA. In fact, this organization does not do formal QA nor have a QA role.

Oh my!

Add into the mix the fact that this individual is on multiple projects in these roles, and it could be a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, he’s excited about agile, is really absorbing the ideas quickly, and is willing to put in the effort to make it all happen.

As we’re moving forward, he’s learning. It was really interesting to hear him say the other day “If I had understood this better when we started, I would have written these stories differently.”

To which I replied “Then write them differently now!”

It’s fascinating to see things changing rapidly, and to see the team absorbing the lessons and moving forward quickly.

One aspect of this is in Mingle. We’re using Mingle, in case that wasn’t clear. The Project Manager, who is very junior, excels at process and organization. So she’s taking to Mingle very quickly (notice how I resisted the urge to use some trite metaphor?). Between one day and the next, I noticed all sorts of new cards, new views, and a reorganization of the cards into releases.

Still, back to the PM/BA/QA guy, I see this as one of the biggest risks for the project. We’ve been working hard on getting them to understand what “done” means for a card, and he is a bottleneck and single point of failure.

I can’t wait to see how this story unfolds!

4 Responses

  1. Jason Yip says:

    If you mean QA as quality assurance, then it doesn’t sound like they are doing quality assurance but if you mean QA as quality assurance, it’s not appropriate to think of QA as a role.

    http://jchyip.blogspot.com/2009/01/no-matter-how-many-times-you-say-it-we.html

    • Doc says:

      I agree with your post – my concern is not about the lack of someone in the role QA, but that there is no concept of QA other than the somewhat random, informal testing that the developers do, plus the “we’ll do as much as we can now, and hope we catch any other bugs later” QA that is done by the people on the business side.

  2. […] Multiple roles (Steven ‘Doc’ List) […]

  3. Chris Matts says:

    As someone who advocates merging the QA and BA into a single process, I like the idea of people who can do both roles.

    As you rightly say, the risk is horrendous. There should be at least two of the suckers on the project at least. What happens if he is off sick? Who steps in?

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