We’re fortunate in testing that we generally follow a well-defined process, have clear role definitions and test tools to support us. Our test tools record activity, manage planned and current activity, and support communication between teams and individuals. This is in the form of bugs and passed & failed tests. The process is there to steer us safely through difficult periods of a project when many people around us may be making irrational decisions.
As such, testing is relatively easy to manage remotely (it’s this capability that has made testing an attractive target for offshoring). Thankfully this reduces the many challenges we’re all facing during the current challenging situation and with our teams working remotely. Therefore, my top tips to get through this and keep testing on track are:
Keep Calm and Carry On
Lead your teams to do what they normally do, but from a different place. We already have the process and tools to make remote working a success so try not to disrupt that.
Trust Your Team
Your test team members know what they need to do. They know how to do it. They know the best communication channels to use to get things done. I’ve always achieved more by trusting my team to do the right thing than I have by micro-managing and now, more than ever, it is needed.
Recognise People Have More Important Things on Their Minds Than The Project
It goes without saying that everyone needs to allow and support flexible working hours. Whether it be picking up loo rolls, home-schooling the kids, caring for loved ones or supporting a key worker, your team members have competing priorities. If they need to shift work hours, take some time off during the day or can’t deliver something precisely when it was planned – relax about it. Show some grace now and once this is all over, you will be rewarded.
Re-baseline Your Plan
Let’s face it – the plan wasn’t great anyway. There was too much to do in too little time. I strongly urge you to re-plan and re-baseline and cut your team some slack by de-scoping some stuff or pushing out dates. We all know it should have been done before the crisis regardless.
Daily Stand Up
If there’s an argument to make one significant change to your working practices, it might just be this. If you weren’t already having a daily stand up, then consider having one to keep your team engaged and informed. It’s more important than ever to recognise that individual circumstances will be wildly different and while some will be comfortable working from home, there are others that won’t. While many will be rushed off their feet, some might be alone, bored and scared.
Try Not to Waste Everyone’s Time
Strongly resist the temptation to fill up diaries with unnecessary activities that you think will help their emotional wellbeing – but will probably not be taken in the spirit it was meant. It’s important to recognise that some of your team will have personal issues to deal with, new stresses and lots of additional things to squeeze into their day. Testers can be a cynical bunch (cynicism is what makes a good tester) and many will resent the intrusion and waste of their precious time. You’re likely to annoy more people than you please. By all means care for people on an individual basis, make sure they’re healthy, in a good emotional and mental state, but I would strongly advise against nannying people unless they clearly want or need it.
In summary, trust in the process, rely on your team to know what to do, show some grace and compassion and try not to interfere. In short, be the kind of leader you imagine a great leader to be.