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Remote work

Remote work tips for software testing teams: Part 1

Yes, making a sharp and unexpected pivot into remote work brings a fair share of complications, no matter what you do for a living. But software testers are facing some unique challenges. Coordinating testing across all the different tools and people involved in the end-to-end quality process was never easy to begin with. But now, many organizations are deploying urgent updates almost instantly — which means testers need to figure out how to test even more efficiently as they negotiate new ways of working.

We wanted to take this opportunity to share some tools and tips that are helping testers within our own teams as well as our customers’ teams. We’ll be adding to this series over the next few weeks to provide a central reference point for best practices that are adding value across the testing community as we all adjust to the new normal. (Read part 2 here.)

To kick off the series, here are 3 remote working tips to start with…

Tracking who’s supposed to be testing what, when

Even if all your team members can attend an online meeting at the same place and time, it’s hard to keep track of who’s supposed to be doing what, when. Maybe someone missed an important detail when their connection dropped, or they answered the door for a much-anticipated package delivery. Perhaps release scope or timelines changed overnight, but not everyone scanned through their overflowing inbox before tackling their top testing tasks. Or maybe a team member needed to take some unexpected time off, and the team had to quickly redistribute work assignments to meet their deadlines. How do you keep track of the changes and ensure that everyone’s always on the same page?

Many have tackled this challenge with an Agile test management tool such as Tricentis qTest. Whether you’re working with manual tests, automated tests with any (commercial or open source) testing tool, or all of the above, it’s helpful to have a centralized “hub” to coordinate your testing efforts, house test cases and steps in a single repository where they can be accessed and reused, and link test data to Jira releases, issues and defects.

A few things you could simplify include:

  • Test planning
  • Test versioning and approvals
  • Test scheduling and orchestration
  • Test reporting
  • Test data management
  • Feedback loops

Showing a team member how to reproduce a defect — even if you’re working different hours

Testers are pretty accustomed to getting the “Works on my machine” response after reporting a defect. But now, there are two complicating factors. One, team members might be working on different systems and environments. Two, you can’t just walk over to the doubting developer’s desk and walk him or her through what you’re doing. If you’re both online at the same time, you could screenshare, talk through how you reached the issue, and explore the system differences that might be helpful for pinpointing the root cause of the problem. But this isn’t always feasible. What’s the best way to share all the relevant steps and details if you and your team members are all adjusting your schedules a bit to accommodate family responsibilities?

One good option is to use a tool that can automatically record your actions, environment settings, and comments. Tricentis offers several recording options (through qTest as well as Tosca) to help you quickly capture and share your test actions with your colleagues.

A few things you could simplify include:

  • Recording test steps and environment details
  • Annotating screenshots and videos
  • Sharing the issue across the team
  • Entering the steps-to-reproduce in your defect tracking system

(Virtually) high-fiving teammates for going above and beyond the call of duty

Physical distancing and emotional distancing don’t go hand in hand. Now more than ever, it’s important to recognize each other’s contributions, try to have a little fun, and celebrate minor victories like getting that urgent app change tested in record time. Enter HeyTaco! and comparable recognition apps.

The concept is pretty simple:

  1. Every day, each team member gets an allotment of virtual tacos to “gift” across the team.
  2. Whenever a team member wants to recognize someone’s hard work, great idea, or just spread a little cheer, they give out a taco (via Slack) along with a message explaining the taco rationale.

For example, here’s a glimpse of how our Tricentis Flood team uses HeyTaco!

Tacos can be redeemed for a fully-customizable array of awards. For example, some teams choose to offer incentives such as team gear, charity donations, and time off.

Tricentis doesn’t offer HeyTaco!, but we do use it internally. It’s a fun way to boost morale, express gratitude, and promote unity — a few things that should not be in short supply these days.