Back in July, I wrote on my agile testing blog:
I'm becoming increasingly concerned about the suitability of conventional QA engineers in agile environments. Since agile methodologies stress that the entire team is responsible for testing and that as much testing as possible be automated, the QA specialist has limited usefulness on an agile team.
When I re-read that entry today, it felt like I wrote it years ago, not a few months. I still hold the same general belief--that distributing testing among scrum team members reduces the role traditionally played by the QA engineer--but my take on the situation is much more positive now.
While agile adoption could indeed lead to a total reduction in the number of QA engineers needed in the industry, it can be a good opportunity for individual QA engineers. Nobody is relegated to the role of tester--a subset of QA work that's generally considered lower status. Instead, every QA engineer on an agile team must function more like a lead QA engineer: planning testing strategies, advising the team on what testing is necessary, and making sure that the testing work is accomplished by various team members.
I have seen first-hand the positive effects of scrum on the professional lives of individual engineers. I mentored a QA engineer on one of our teams here who first struggled with the challenges of her role on her scrum team. But I'm happy to report that she has since flourished and really come into her own as a 'QA specialist' on the team. She has gained the respect of the entire team and raised the overall quality of the software that her team develops.
I'm interested to know if others have witnessed the same types of effects.