Why testers want to be involved early in the project is beyond me. Time and time again I hear “we need to be brought in sooner.” To do what? To listen to requirements that are going to change? To write test plans that are going to be stale?
If you want to show up early, you need to deliver early value, and sitting and listening in is not delivering value. While I don’t agree with a lot of what the Poppendieck’s wrote comparing LEAN to Agile, the idea of delaying committment is an interesting idea. It’s a bit like not overproducing in manufacturing, since creating something too often or too early results in throwaway. Having testers (notice I specifically said testers and not QA) show up early when their value is very late in the project doesn’t make much sense at all.
When things aren’t stable, building derivitive works from it (like test cases from requirements) simply invites extra work. Instead, the latest possible moment that testing can get involved is a better chance of having a larger portion of the system be stable. It’s silly to hurry up and wait, or in the case of software, hurry up and rework.