In a company, they are transitioning from agile to scrum. They have hired a very skilled scrum master to facilitate change, they have an up to speed product owner, a development manager who is up to speed with scrum, and the business supports the change. Also in this company, there is a test manager who has his own test team of four testers.

The scrum master disagrees with this tactic, saying that the testers are developers, and they are members of the scrum team, wanting to scrap the "test team". He believes that each member of the team should be able to test as well as develop, but the test manager disagrees, believing that his testers are specialized in what they do, and that testing before production is a vital job that he cannot leave it to chance, or to people who don't know the testing process.

The test manager gathers his testers for a mini meeting after the morning standup, in a separate room, without informing the others or updating them on their talks. The test manager has no previous scrum experience either. He believes that if any of his testers forgets or doesn't do something, he should go around and chase them.

What would your suggestions be for this business, and the development manager and scrum master for the test manager, who seems resistant to this business change and wants to retain his team?

Update: The SM asked to be invited in the testers meeting. It turns out it is another stand up just for the testers. They are effective duplicating work after the team stand up. Is this necessarily bad though?

3 Answers 3


The traditional Test Manager role is not compatible with the Scrum framework. Testers are members of the Scrum Team and they may well do some development and other activities in addition to testing. Note that they will choose to do these other activities as they see that it is of benefit to the team. It is not something they are obliged to do. Testing is a skilled role and it may well be that these individuals spend a lot of their time focusing on testing as that is how they provide the most benefit to the team. It is for the team to self-organise and decide what is the best use of the skills available.

One thing that is worth considering for the person in the Test Manager role is to have them focus on organising a community of practice. This is a community of people who share a common interest, which in this case would be testing. It would not be restricted to those that have been in the traditional testing role, it may well also include developers and others in the organisation who are interested in testing.

A testing community of practice will help to spread the knowledge gained in the various Scrum Teams across the organisation. It can also help with setting standards and looking at potential technolgies and approaches that might be adopted in the future.

The Test Manager will not manage this community of practice, but they may well become a leader of it if the community decides this is appropriate.

  • 2
    Upvoted - I've had this exact situation, and the manager successfully transitioned to focusing on mentoring, improving testers' knowledge-sharing, and leading the testing community forward in terms of new testing methods, hardware, upcoming standards revisions, etc. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 19:51


The Scrum Master is mostly right, in that the ideal would be to have the team composed of cross-functional individuals, but you can still create a cross-functional team with collaborating specialists, too. Either way, the testers need to be embedded in the Scrum Team rather than being an external resource.

As for the "test manager," there is no such role defined within the Scrum framework. The business may choose to retain such a person as a line manager, but the role has no business being involved directly in the Scrum process.


It seems like this particular manager is trying to hold onto his traditional command-and-control role by inserting himself as a process intermediary, but from a Scrum perspective this simply creates a process bottleneck and reduces communications velocity and team effectiveness.

The Scrum Master is the process referee. It is his job to educate the business stakeholders about the "Definition of Done," and convince them to disintermediate the test manager so that testing functions are directly integrated into the development process. The business should treat this as routine process reengineering rather than allowing the Scrum Master or the team to get into a power struggle with the test manager directly.

This is, unfortunately, a common issue when transitioning from command-and-control to self-organizing teams. In most cases, the Scrum Master can educate and advise, but it is the responsibility of the company's executives to structure and implement the organizational changes required to support agility.


Fire the test manager and create a cross-functional scrum-team if there is no risk to operational continuity.

The test manager role is not needed and most of their coordiation and project management duties get distributed across the team and hopefully "disappear" with the more fluid communication networks that scrum teams are supposed to develop.

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