When we all start our work day, in some way or the other we wish the day to end soon. No one wishes to get stuck into an issue which would demand us to stay and work till late, but 70% of the times the days do not go smooth as we wish.
There will be different types of challenges faced each day. On several occasions, we may be asked to work on urgent tasks just because that’s what our clients would demand, and out of that 70%, most of it will be on Friday’s when we all would have special personal plans :). We just desire but we cannot change the way service industry works.
In today’s article, I have tried to capture some of the challenges faced by our testers and how by taking small measures we can overcome such challenges.
I have also covered, how in my opinion an ideal day should be for a tester and a test lead.
Also read => How Would My First Day be in QA Tester Job?
I am starting this article with a generic thought on what important notes we should consider before we start our day, this will help you define a work plan right at the start of your day and also foresee any issues.
What You Will Learn:
Things to consider before we start our day:
1) Task awareness – When you start your day make sure you are aware of the assigned tasks for the day.
2) Creating checklist/defining priority – Make a checklist of all action items planned for the day. Also, assign priority so that you can get started with priority items.
3) Setting target – Once you are aware of the planned tasks, set a target which can be achieved by EOD.
4) Time allocation – Roughly do a time allocation for each of your tasks and ensure it can be completed within your working day so you don’t need to stretch your day. Low priority tasks can be carried forward and completed on the next working day.
5) Work Timings – Demands on the strict work timings are changing these days, and what is mostly required these days is flexibility. Sometimes you may be required to attend calls with your client or onsite team at nights. It doesn’t always have to be that you need to be in the office from 9 to 5. It is important that you adjust your work timings according to the needs of the project.
If you are required to work later in the night, you can start your day late. But make sure your work timings are communicated in the team. Even if you are away for few hours, that should be informed.
I have provided below a template of sample daily task planner which can be used by individuals to track and plan tasks at their end.
Benefits of Daily Task Planner
- Keeps data handy – these days many organizations demand you to provide details of hourly activities on a daily basis. So, this will help you fill your timesheets.
- This tracker helps you provide the data that is required for statistical or reporting purpose. Say, if you are asked about the work you did two weeks back, you will not have to provide it based on what you remember but you can refer to the planner and provide the exact data accordingly.
- Easy to maintain – it hardly takes 10 minutes in a day to update this planner
- Can be used by Team leads with slightly tweaking the template. (I have attached Test Lead version also)
- Can be maintained as a local copy so individuals can edit as and when they feel.
The ideal day for a tester and a test lead should involve this:
Test Lead’s Day
A Test Lead is one who does the entire role of a tester and has an additional responsibility of managing a team, interacting with other teams and providing timely reports to management. If any tester comes across an issue, their first point of contact remains their test leads.
Having said that, a test lead should make sure they are reachable whenever required. This doesn’t mean they need to be in office before the team arrives or leave office after the whole team has left. All they need to ensure is being flexible and available either in person or on call.
In many of my past instances, I have seen the team reaches office ahead of leads and they don't have what they are supposed to do for the day. Ideally, it should be their responsibility to ensure that the work allocation is done and the team is aware of their assigned tasks.
As a best practice, it’s always good to check your emails as first thing in the morning. For teams operating in an onshore-offshore model, plans might change overnight. It can be that a priority items you were working yesterday is no longer a priority and is made out of scope or it could be someone else's task. Also, the next thing is to keep the team informed about updates.
Many projects follow a trend where the whole team is kept in the loop on email threads so they are aware of the changes. Some projects just keep the leads in the email threads. In such cases, it becomes the test lead's responsibilities to keep the team informed about the changes in the plan.
A Team Leads responsibility just doesn’t end at allocating the work to the team, they should be well aware of all the functional requirements so they can be able to assist the team with any type of technical challenges faced in a day.
Most of the projects follow a cut off time when they need to send daily status reports, hence team leads need to ensure they receive the status of each of their team members before they send a consolidated report to their higher levels. Before they wind up their day, they should send timely status reports.
Most of the junior testers just do what they are asked to. Hence, they will wait for their test leads to assign task to them.
It’s always good to have a word with the team lead on the assigned task to make sure that both are on the same page. So start the day by discussing the tasks and if you foresee any associated hindrance.
It is also important to raise concern if during the day you come across any obstacles and it needs immediate attention. Such matters should be discussed and sorted out at the earliest.
The testers should be flexible. There can be instances where during the test case review, the testers have to present their test cases. For important test reviews, it may be the case that testers need to stay back after office hours.
Before they end their day, a tester should ensure assigned tasks for the day are completed. There can be instances where not every assigned task can be completed on the same day, in such situation it is better to just drop a note or discuss and update the test lead about the progress.
Nothing holds value if not reported on time and with proper data. A tester has to ensure before they wind up their day, they should send a complete status report on the assigned tasks. They can include details on other challenges faced or details on any pending work in the same email. This depends on the project protocol also. Many projects require tracker updates and many require data to be sent via emails.
I would like to point out some of the resource management challenges faced by the testers and the team leads in their day to day work activities and solutions to them:
Resource Management Challenges Faced By the Test Lead:
Problem #1 – One of the Testers calls up in the morning and informs about an unplanned leave, how does the test lead handle the situation?
Solution: Test Lead should ensure the work is reassigned to other team members so that at the end of the day the deliverables go as planned. It's the test lead's responsibility to ensure priority items are taken care when any resource is unavailable. It’s always advisable to have a backup plan to handle tasks in case of emergencies. If none of the testers have the capability, it should be the responsibility of the test lead to jump in and get the task done.
Problem #2 – A tester calls up and informs about not being able to travel to work but can connect remotely. Should the tester be given the option to work from home or should be asked to take a leave?
Solution: The decision, in this case, depends on the situation. If the resource is working on something where no secured connections are required, the test lead may allow working remotely. But many projects require test execution to be done in client's secured environment and doesn’t allow connecting from outside. In such cases, test lead can decide if the resource can work on other non-secured environment task or do some documentation work etc. if he/she is not asked to take a leave.
Problem #3 – Tester is working from home and log off for the day without sending status updates to the test lead.
Solution: Such cases should be closely monitored and remote work should be allowed only if the resources are committed and dedicated, they should be briefed about the challenges faced in such circumstances and how it impacts overall project and in turn, the resource themselves.
Problem #4 – Tester leaves office without completing the assigned tasks.
Solution: In such cases, the tester should have a discussion with the lead before leaving for the day, so necessary action can be taken. If it is really urgent, the test lead should somehow get it completed, if not then the same task can be given to the tester next day.
Problem #5 – Tester completes the assigned task for the day, leaves office without sending status updates.
Solution: For such cases, the test lead should define the process where each team member is made aware of the importance of reporting their status at the end of the day and a cut off time should be set by which all should send status.
Problem #6 – Tester reaches office but doesn’t check email and continues to work on previous day’s task.
Solution: Such situations can be handled by the test lead by ensuring the team makes it a habit to check emails as the first thing in the morning because such behavior becomes problematic if the project requirements are dynamic. By checking the emails quickly in the morning, you will get to know the changes/updates and you work on the latest important tasks first.
Challenges Faced By Testers
Problem #1 – Tester reaches office before the test lead, but need to wait to start the work as there is no task assigned.
Solution: If for some reason the test lead is not available when testers reach the office, it becomes the responsibility of the test lead to either call-up and inform testers about their task or email the prior night on allocated tasks for the team. If test lead is on a planned leave, the task allocation should be taken care by the replacement, but in no way, the tester should be made to wait without knowing what they are expected to do.
Problem #2 – The Tester approaches test lead for technical assistance but he/she is not able to help.
Solution: Good Test leads should always have functional knowledge of the application since they should be able to help each of their team members. It may be possible that the lead may not be able to answer immediately but it's his\her responsibility to clarify tester’s problem within a couple of hours. If testers aren’t happy with the test lead's response, they should discuss it with him/her or on a frequent note, approach their managers and discuss the problem.
Problem #3 – Too much work assignment to one tester and lack of opportunity to the other.
Solution: This is a very common problem where test lead ends up assigning all high visible tasks to few key resources and other team members don't get any opportunity. If the team ever faces such issue on lack of opportunity, they should first discuss the problem with the lead and if the lead is not able to solve the problem, they should approach the next level manager. A team should run in an equal opportunity manner.
Also read => How to Lead a Happier and Successful Test Team
In this article, I've just covered some resource management situations we face on a daily basis. I am sure all of us have challenges irrespective of what levels we are at. I always believe if we try to handle the situation by being logical, things might automatically change and we might end up finding a solution to our problem.
I always try to understand the priority and the need of the hour and then come to the solution.
Author: This useful article is written by STH team member Priya R.
Hope you all can go back and think about the problems you face and you will see when you understand your problems, you yourself will be the right person to find the solution.