About 7 months ago, my coworker wrote a post on LinkedIn about how we improved our application releases. And today, I want to share different advice about how to improve meetings.
So, our team struggled to get the best out of our work. Sometimes it took too long to find a solution to our challenges. We knew that we needed to work differently, and we knew what we wanted first of all: an effective meeting with our development and QA teams.
Then one day, I was sitting after a meeting with my coworker, and he said something that changed everything: “I really can’t remember anything after a meeting if it’s longer than 2 hours. Too much information, blind spots and chit-chat, yo. It feels like wasted time with a zero result.”
That’s when it dawned on me — we were doing it all wrong! We measured software team productivity by how much time people spent at their desks or how many hours they worked each week. But what did that really tell us about their effectiveness?
Secrets of effective meetings with testers team
So here is a spoiler — it’s not how you measure the productivity of testers.
As it stands today, meetings are still a major part of every project. If a QA lead wants to make better use of their time and boost productivity, they should definitely look into improving how they are involved in project meetings, bringing together the whole team.
I’ve put together some of my favourite tips to boost testers’ productivity and for making meetings as productive as possible:
1) Set goals for each meeting and make sure everyone is clear about what those goals are
How many times have you found yourself in a meeting where the team is stuck on an issue, and you can tell that the whole thing is going nowhere?
We’ve found that making sure everyone is prepared for meetings is key. It’s also important to remember that every meeting has its own unique purpose, so it’s important to keep an eye on what the goal of each meeting is before jumping into things.
2) Keep meetings short and sweet
Especially when it comes to QA engineers, developers and project managers, because they have so many other things to do in their day-to-day tasks other than meeting with you (and each other). So keep it quick and get right down to business.
So the best solution here was to give everyone preferably less than 5-7 minutes for their stand-ups — share their current statutes on tasks and alert coworkers if they need to address related issues or topics. But don’t let them dive into too many details. If it’s impossible, it’s better to discuss this later.
When everyone is ready to wrap their stand-up up, make sure you’re all on the same page and have the same information.
3) Include a list of action items at the end of each meeting
It might be as old as the world and not too witty but sending follow-ups is essential. Seriously, it is like getting a prescription after a doctor’s appointment. Like you talked everything through, great, but what should I do now?!
So follow-ups can help you ensure everyone understands what they’re supposed to accomplish during the meeting beforehand. And they’re not wasting time trying to figure out what’s going on or what they’re supposed to do once they get there
4) Use tools as your backup
Lucky us, we work for aqua ALM and don’t struggle to choose a better test management software. So I won’t tell you ‘if you have a different tool, so bla bla bla’. Just my experience working with aqua.
The first step is to set up metrics that matter most to you and your company. For example, if you want to know if there are any bottlenecks in your testing process or you are trying to painlessly prepare a QA team for test automation, roll out the report based on these metrics — it will give you great insight.
Another option is to go through the history of changes and review communication channels with your team. And if you see that your team wasn’t notified about some changes and then this issue pops up at the meeting — it’s a good option to investigate it before the actual “crime” is committed.
Empower your team with the almighty testing tool
5) Meeting is the meeting!
If this is not a regular call (daily, weekly) but a situative meeting, its result should be a specific decision or change, action plan, responsible parties. Otherwise, this meeting was in vain. Even the determination “not to change anything” might be a decision, but it must be reasonable and clearly voiced.
Meetings are not held for sweet conversations. They are held to make a decision, where this decision depends on several persons.
Meetings shouldn’t be a chore that ends with everyone in the room wondering, “What was the point of that?” Instead, they should always end with a concrete action plan for what the QA team will accomplish during the next planning phase.
I decided to try something different for my next meeting to improve QA team productivity: instead of asking them what they had done during the week (which didn’t give me any real insight into their performance), I asked them what they would focus on the next week, and then let them explain why this focus would help our company succeed. And, oh boy! It worked out!
Improve the quality of your meetings with aqua's project management functionality