Keeping everyone informed
Keeping people in the loop can be difficult. A lot of times testers can find themselves in high-pressure situations due to release deadlines. During these times, people want to know what's going on, and they want to know NOW. Here are simple techniques I've developed to make sure everyone knows what's going on:
- Make sure debriefs happen after each test session. If I'm not doing exploratory testing, make sure results get updated in whatever test management tool we are using after each test.
- Keep a visible chart of what you're working on and your progress so people can see what you're doing and where you're at without having to ask. I normally have a whiteboard around me that I can use to keep this information up to date, but if I don't I'll keep it on a piece of printer paper next to me.
- Send a quick email (normally no more than one paragraph in length) at the end of each day with a summary of my progress and a listing of any obstacles that I'm facing and need help with. I'll send that to team-members, my test manager, and/or the project manager(s).
- Reply to any emails requesting information before I leave each day. While I try to keep a clean inbox, when that's not possible I make sure to reply to the emails related to the deadline.
- When confusion is highest, pull people together to talk face-to-face. People default to email and texting because it's easy. Unfortunately, when emotions are high, it's also not as effective as talking. If I notice a pattern where people are churning on an issue, I get them together so we can make a decision as a team and move past it. You don't have to be the manager to facilitate that. Take the initiative (just make sure you include everyone that needs to be there to solve the issue).
- If you have to attend meetings, remain focused on the meeting (not your laptop, some document, or a private converstation) so you can get out of there faster. If you feel you don't need to be focused on the meeting, that's feedback. Ask if you really have to be there. If you schedule a meeting, make sure you're sensitive of other people's time and make sure you keep people focused on what you're trying to accomplish so you can get them out of there quickly.