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Does centralized testing have a place in Agile teams?

Do central test teams have a place in Agile development teams? Read expert Gerie Owen's take on this question.

Generally, the test team members should be a part of an Agile development team. However, there  are at least two areas in which centralized testing can add value to Agile development: the end-to-end systems integration test and the specialized testing areas, which include performance, load, stress and mobile testing.

Colocation is one of the most important principles of Agile development, which is why testers should be distributed, allowing them to contribute their skills and expertise. Testers contribute effectively, especially in the area of test-driven development and assisting the developers in writing the test prior to writing the code. Still, a centralized testing team makes sense for integration and specialized testing. Conducting an end-to-end systems integration test involves coordination among not only applications and the teams supporting them, but also among environments and data. Furthermore, back-end integration testing requires specific skills and a thorough understanding of the overall architectures. A centralized test team that is dedicated to end-to-end testing will have a solid understanding of the integration test process and the integration points involved. This centralized team's broad knowledge of the integration point applications, coupled with its specific data testing skills, will enhance the quality of the testing done within the Agile team.

A centralized testing team makes sense for integration and specialized testing.

Specialized testing is another area where the skills and experience of a centralized testing team complements the skills of the Agile project team. Agile teams can increase their velocity and reduce testing debt by leveraging testing specialists in the areas of performance, load, stress and mobile testing. These specialties are usually found in centralized test teams or test centers of excellence.

In summary, testing within Agile methodologies can be accomplished effectively by including testers in each Agile development team. Sometimes including that expertise is less effective, and that is when Agile teams should leverage the specialties of centralized test teams.

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