Try removing your QA section to get MORE done!

So this was the problem we were seeing:


Look familiar?

QA field jam packed with stories?

Finding out about issues (stories created during sprint) at the end of the sprint?

Seeing hangover at the end of your sprint?


Maybe your QA got sick.

Maybe your QA was more busy than normal with support requests.

Maybe your QA was spending time writing acceptance criteria with the PO for the next sprints set of stories.

Or, maybe we need to stop thinking as the QA as the only person who can QA work.

Acting as teams, not individuals 

Scrum is about teams & that means we ultimately need to think about what WE as teams are trying to accomplish. Team goals should be the most important thing in any Scrum team.

That’s what makes Scrum so powerful, you got this disciplined timebox with a specific focus, a goal, which a team work together to deliver.

When we focus on our individual goals over the team goal the Sprint goal suffers.

Delivering the message

When I saw the QA bottlenecks, I asked at the stand-up:

Looking at the board this morning, we need to ask ourselves that question. What can we possibly get through to Done today?

It was my way of hinting that there is plenty in the QA section available to be tested.


The bread and butter of any optimised approach to delivery is focusing on whats in progress to increase throughput.

Something that Kanban principles push hard.

So we can ask the team to focus on getting ‘In Progress’ cards delivered first before picking up new Sprint backlog items.

Developers can QA each others work, so checkout the QA section first to bring down that bottleneck & get stuff into Done.

But we can still reinforce this message to create the right behaviour!

How to visually bring the message home

Change your board.

Remove your QA section.

Here’s one I prepared earlier:


Now when a developers done with his user story, he/she can push it just a notch to the right which means the story is STILL ‘In Progress’.

That is a subtle but powerful visual representation which says “Hey just cause we have done our part developing stories, the stories are still In ‘Progress’.

2 thoughts on “Try removing your QA section to get MORE done!

  1. We can totally relate to the pain you’ve described! Lived it too many times.

    But what if we think differently about the critical factor that defines our ability to move a task forward: the ‘DONE’ criteria?

    Suppose a Scrum master can choose to take a percentage credit for work completed during the sprint, in the Retrospective? Record the completed story points, rename the task and return the remaining story points to the Backlog.

    For what’s it worth, that’s our solution. Not strictly Scrum, but it’s Agile. And this issue you’ve described was one of the reasons we built NextWave ScrumMaster™. In a Retrospective, a Scrum master can choose to credit work during the sprint in which it was completed. ScrumMaster does the rest, automatically.

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