Stop testing and start doing your job!

Are you willing to do something crazy?

Think about this as a challenge.

You may even see it as a way to change how you are approaching your work, and how your company perceives the value you provide to your projects.

I want you to do the following:

Stop Testing Right Now
and Start Doing Your Job!

Testing- STOP and start doing your job

Yes, you read correctly; and no, there is no mistake in what I wrote.

I want you to take a day, two days, maybe even a full week if you can.  I want you not to run a single test during this time, and instead concentrate on finding ways in which you can provide value to your projects by doing things that are not related to running the same tests that you usually run.

We are always too busy to lift our heads up from our test…

I’ve been working with thousands of testers for the last couple of years as part of my job in PractiTest, and there is something that I keep hearing all the time: “we are too busy testing”.

I’ve heard this in English (with US, UK, Australian and South African accents).  I’ve heard this in Spanish (in many tones and regional accents too).  I’ve heard this in Hebrew, Italian and Portuguese.  It’s been translated to me from Swedish, Finish, Russian, Dutch, Deutsch, Danish, Korean, Hindi, Mandarin, Arabic, French, and I am sure I am missing a whole bunch of other languages too…

The reality of most testers and test managers out there is that we are too busy to lift our heads from our (always) urgent testing tasks, and we have no time to think or do any of the other important tasks that are not related directly to running tests.

The problem is that by focusing always on the urgent, we leave aside the important tasks.  And for those of you who are wondering Urgent is not always the same as Important.

Not only that, but also, if you think about it, many times the reason some tasks or tests become urgent, is only because we did not get to do something else that was important in the first place…

Force yourself to think:
What else should I be doing for my project right now?

Testing- think of alternative actions Unless you literally force yourself to think, by not running any tests for a couple of days, you will not be able to find the additional things you could or should be doing for your projects and for your team.

Many times we cannot do this by ourselves.  If this is the case go ahead and brainstorm with your team, if possible go and talk to other people outside your team, they may have some good ideas on the things that may be useful.

A way to start the brainstorming process might be to define what is the value you should be bringing to your team.  Ask yourself what do the other team members gain from your participation in the project?  How can you help your R&D Manager, your Product Manager, maybe even your CEO?

If you want a hint, you are not here to run every single test in the book.  You are here to provide smart visibility into the important areas of your product and your process, and to help your stakeholder steer the project in best course to meet its objectives.

How do you translate this into concrete actions and tasks is something only you can do!

Some ideas of “other” things you might be doing with your time…

It is obvious that the ideas on what can be improved need to come from you and your team, but let me give you some pointers based on my experience with other organizations where we’ve done this type of exercise:

–  Find more efficient ways to run your tests.  For example, evaluate how an automation framework could enhance your process.

–  Check if you can improve the testing and development environments of your team.  Think if there are ways to deploy your system faster and with less human intervention.

– Understand how to communicate your testing results and your findings in ways that will reach more stakeholders in a clearer and more direct way.  How can you talk their language?

– Find ways to understand what information is required by your stakeholders to make their decisions, and how can you provide it to them?

– Get more involved on the technical aspects of your project.  Be part of the design process, do more code reviews, etc.

– Start mapping and analyzing the Risks of your project.

– Think how to measure the quality of your product post-release.  Learn how to improve your development and testing based on these results.

– Look for ways to communicate with your end users and get feedback from their positive and negative experience with your system.

And since this is only a very partial list, you can also look around the Internet for inspiration on what other tasks you may do.

Testing- sharing results out load What other things are you doing that are not related to testing?

Do you have other interesting things that you and your team do for your project that may help others?

Go ahead and share them with us by adding them as comments to this post!

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11 Responses to Stop testing and start doing your job!

  1. Thanh August 12, 2015 at 8:24 am #

    Hi Joel,

    Interesting posts. Sometimes we should do things not related to testing to make our testing work effective. Sometimes we are caught in trap of “being busy” to do the testing cycle from cycle and forget find ways to improve how we do the test.

    Regarding your ideas to do not related to testing, they are all very valid points. The problem I see is that they are just the “add-on”, the “nice-to-have”, the “could” and when we have things to test, we go back to “busy testing” mode. I’m not saying that doing this is impossible, it’s just that we need a “healthy environment” to do this properly.

    Thanks for sharing again

    -Thanh

  2. joelmonte August 12, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    Hi Thanh,
    Thanks for your comment.

    In this case I will disagree with you since I don’t think the “other” things can be categorically classified as nice-to-have’s.

    To give you just one example, think about Risk Analysis. Just the other week we did a webinar about risk analysis and when we asked, about half the people taking part on the webinar did not have a risk analysis process in their company (I am not talking about not managing risks in the QA, they were not managing risks in their project!!! This is crazy!)

    When you run a project and don’t manage it’s risks is like going on a transatlantic sailing trip without constantly checking the weather report… Do you think the tracking the weather is a nice to have in this case? 🙂

    I think that we need to learn to differentiate between Urgent and Important, and not to let the important things fall out the table. What do you think about this?

    My 2 cents!

  3. Thanh August 12, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    Hi Joel,

    I actually do agree with your point and understand the Urgent and Important thing.

    What I was trying to say is that though these are Important, people treat is as “nice to have”. Sometimes they do these things, sometimes not or when they have an Urgent task, they skip these things. This is especially true in outsourcing models where testers are generally paid based on number of test cases created/executed, bugs found and hours they spend on *testing*.

    I believe many team out there do these things as a Must and they help them a lot but I haven’t personally experienced such great team like that.

  4. Kacey Arnold August 14, 2015 at 12:28 am #

    Spot on.
    If we do not spend the time to keep crap from getting into the code base, and we do not put out the effort to think things through we will always be to busy testing. QA is not testing, our job is to make sure that the product we release is the best it can be, that means spend some time thinking things through and making sure what is being built is what was requested. Spend time talking with the devs to make sure that the new piece will integrate with the old pieces, find out where the possible failure points are and make sure they don’t occur. Spend time looking at the project holistically, how is the customer going to use this? what are the customers paths? what will the customer see think feel?

  5. joelmonte August 14, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    Exactly!
    Cheers.
    -joel

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