Is daily project routine work enough for your success?
We all love success and we know there are certain keys to get it. All we need is to find these keys and follow them properly. Many of us even know about these keys but find it hard to follow as we just don’t want to come out of our comfort zone. We are OK in following our daily routine in which we have molded ourselves.
There is a general thinking in IT industry that you need to be allocated to a project in order to prove your abilities. With this myth, we work for months or even years and keep ourselves busy in a daily routine that we hardly get any time to prove yourself.
The bench time – the key to make you different from the crowd:
The time we get in between the two projects, which is like any ideal time and in IT industry we call it “bench time”. This is generally non-billable time. Today let’s learn how to utilize this time effectively.
Think differently and change your perception. No matter if you have defined allocated projects or not, you can be outstanding. Just accept your organization, team, and processes like your own business and yourself as a person in charge to carry out them to the next level.
For being just a good or average employee, the basic requirement is to adhere to your project routine tasks. But to get tagged as someone extraordinary, utilize your ideal time as the most valuable time you have. Use the bench time more productively than being on a project, and this is the key. This is the time which can make you shine if you utilize it properly.
This does not mean we need bench time to shine in our career. But yeah, you can set an example of being a good asset to the company even when not working on a project. This can definitely be an achievement.
How to use the key?
If you understood the importance of utilizing bench time then you found the key to success. I too found this but after wasting a precious year of my career. Before this, I used to either just work on my projects or follow the instructions that my manager used to give to cover up my bench time. I never tried to use my mind proactively for utilizing my time in productive tasks.
My average appraisal, even on giving the best performances and on-time project deliveries, pulled out my patience and interest from work. I started exploring the facts and utilizing my bench time proactively with new ideas which really changed things. And those ideas were not only appreciated by senior management, clients, and my colleagues but also affected my career and life positively.
There are many ideas to utilize bench time in the best way and those could be anything that can do something good to you, your peer, your client and your organization.
Here are some that I used in my career and proved fruitful to me.
#1) Work on process documentation:
Every organization has some standards and processes but most of these are not documented or updated. In QA department too, there are many things that remain on exercise but not on papers. If you have ideal time then utilize it to document the processes or standards that your team is following.
Check for the QA processes that are not documented yet, share those topics with your manager and work on it. Complete it, covering all possible areas and keep this document in a shared location maintaining the history of all revisions. Let everyone access and benefit from this document.
You can also make a dummy set of test cases/scripts with all the standards in a shared location from where they can be referred by team members for testing similar modules.
Also read => Why Documentation is Important in Software Testing
#2) Maintain or update project wiki:
There should be Wikipedia containing test documents, templates, spreadsheets etc. used frequently by your team. You can review these documents and discuss with your seniors if these needs to be modified as per the current scenarios. You can update obsolete documents or add more relevant data with your latest team standards.
Don’t get confused with this and the last point I mentioned. The first is to write documents from the scratch and this one is to maintain the existing wiki.
It’s a big contribution to your team as this wiki can be extremely useful for all. But make sure you keep things relevant and useful. You can get this approved before updating or get it audited from management or authorized persons.
#3) Maintain skill matrix document:
This is the least time taking task but can be very useful for your team. Create skill matrix template or get one by searching online on Google and modifying it as per your requirements. Then collect skills data from a team and update this skill matrix.
Share this skill matrix in your team and ask all team members to keep it updated for all their skill enhancements like manual testing skills or any automation tool. This skill matrix can be extremely helpful for the manager or team lead for allocating the right resources.
#4) Work on finding the root cause of common issues:
The QA teams face many challenges in routine work, like – too many defects insanity testing, defects during UAT phase, lack of time for testing, lack of input data for testing, issues in test environments and much more.
All these are common issues in most of the projects. We don’t get time to work on these when we are busy having new builds ready for testing. But when someone from the team is on the bench, the time can be effectively utilized for root cause analysis of these common problems.
Start with the list of issues faced by your team in last one month. Discuss it with your team, do the root cause analysis and come up with the solutions to avoid repetition of it in future. You can also involve your team lead or manager if required.
#5) Create or update knowledge transfer material:
The Knowledge Transfer (KT) materials are documents and the study material used by new joiners or even as a reference by the experienced team members.
You can work on creating these KT documents or update existing one if these are not precise or missing the important latest information.
On one project, I was asked by the manager to go through the help section and learn QC, CMS, Putty, JDA etc. But these were vast topics with many online documents just copied without extracting the required information for our team. I shared this issue with the manager and took initiative to create trimmed down versions of all these documents for things that are used by our projects. I also documented short manuals with screenshots for the project modules I tested.
This KT material became very popular and everyone including experienced team members started referring it before testing any new versions to these functionalities.
#6) Come up with new suggestions for getting more clients:
Of course, this is little different from your responsibilities. But feel free to share your expertise and ideas. Anything that is helpful for management for getting more clients and making more business relations should be welcomed.
You can study your project competitor’s business in your free time and document or present the new ideas from technology or business perspective. This could be the most valuable contribution from you to your team.
#7) Learn automation tool used by your organization:
This is something common and most of us might be already doing it. Spend time learning any existing automation tool used by your team or you can also learn new functional testing or load testing tools.
You can also apply and prepare for testing certification. If your organization is financing for any certification then you can utilize your time to learn new skills and complete the certification as well.
#8) Conduct automation feasibility analysis:
If your team is not using any automation tool on your project, consider this as an opportunity and spend time doing automation feasibility analysis and come up with the suggestions for tools and areas where the automation testing can be started. Prepare and present the automation feasibility checklist as well.
Make the list of all relevant tools and compare these with pros and cons of each against your project. If you are using the functional testing tool then explore other areas like load and performance testing for your analysis.
#9) Help organization for CMMI appraisals:
This is the ongoing process for any organization to update for CMMI levels, ISO standards and certifications. This is the good opportunity for testers to be a part of these CMMI appraisals as an Appraisal Team Member (ATM).
When you are free you can study on those certifications and provide help like updating case studies or documents according to certification requirements, completing the assessments, facing audits or helping others for the same, and attending/taking meetings for resolving hurdles that come across in completing the process.
These are some of the ideas that I always tried to follow in my free time, not only for better appraisal but for my identity and recognition.
Apart from these, there are many more ideas based on your project and skills. Where there is desire this bench time can be utilized effectively which is key to your success.
About Author: This is a guest post by Nidhi K. She is a QA Lead having 7+ years of experience in software testing and managed full project lifecycle from business development to final delivery for many projects.
Tell us more. I am sure you must be having more ideas. Let us know how you utilize your bench/free time?