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This chapter is from the book

A Little Context for Roles and Activities on an Agile Team

We’ll talk a lot in this book about the “customer team” and the “developer team.” The difference between them is the skills they bring to delivering a product.

Customer Team

The customer team includes business experts, product owners, domain experts, product managers, business analysts, subject matter experts—everyone on the “business” side of a project. The customer team writes the stories or feature sets that the developer team delivers. They provide the examples that will drive coding in the form of business-facing tests. They communicate and collaborate with the developer team throughout each iteration, answering questions, drawing examples on the whiteboard, and reviewing finished stories or parts of stories.

Testers are integral members of the customer team, helping elicit requirements and examples and helping the customers express their requirements as tests.

Developer Team

Everyone involved with delivering code is a developer, and is part of the developer team. Agile principles encourage team members to take on multiple activities; any team member can take on any type of task. Many agile practitioners discourage specialized roles on teams and encourage all team members to transfer their skills to others as much as possible. Nevertheless, each team needs to decide what expertise their projects require. Programmers, system administrators, architects, database administrators, technical writers, security specialists, and people who wear more than one of these hats might be part of the team, physically or virtually.

Testers are also on the developer team, because testing is a central component of agile software development. Testers advocate for quality on behalf of the customer and assist the development team in delivering the maximum business value.

Interaction between Customer and Developer Teams

The customer and developer teams work closely together at all times. Ideally, they’re just one team with a common goal. That goal is to deliver value to the organization. Agile projects progress in iterations, which are small development cycles that typically last from one to four weeks. The customer team, with input from the developers, will prioritize stories to be developed, and the developer team will determine how much work they can take on. They’ll work together to define requirements with tests and examples, and write the code that makes the tests pass. Testers have a foot in each world, understanding the customer viewpoint as well as the complexities of the technical implementation (see Figure 1-3).

Figure 1-3

Figure 1-3 Interaction of roles

Some agile teams don’t have any members who define themselves as “testers.” However, they all need someone to help the customer team write business-facing tests for the iteration’s stories, make sure the tests pass, and make sure that adequate regression tests are automated. Even if a team does have testers, the entire agile team is responsible for these testing tasks. Our experience with agile teams has shown that testing skills and experience are vital to project success and that testers do add value to agile teams.

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