time pressure in qa
Best practices Management
6 mins read
December 28, 2022

Time pressure in QA: does it help or hinder the productivity of testers?

How much time do developers need to change a bulb? The answer is enough to write an algorithm, plus as much as testers need to test it. So, in reality, defining this “much” as testers need is always a big challenge.

photo
Olga Ryan

All QA leads are struggling to find this golden ratio — it should be enough to have an adequate deadline without time pressure in QA in general but not too long to cause procrastination.

When it comes to time management, many people need to realise that there are several different types of time pressure. Some of them help increase productivity — like clear deadlines, flexible working hours, while others hinder a tester’s performance — strict deadlines without situationality or overworking. But anyway, time pressure in software testing can be used as a tool for your journey on how to increase productivity in the software industry.

It helps abstract from procrastination

Let’s start with not the most obvious point – procrastination. There are thousands of coaches who are ready to teach your team to erase procrastination. But can they really do this? I think not.

On a personal level, procrastination can be caused by depression or undiagnosed ADHD (I think we don’t speak enough about mental health and its correlation for successful team management). On a corporate level – a lack of proper time management.

So, if you as a QA lead see that all testers are overwhelmed, it’s a sign to reconsider your QA test time management approach. But if you see that just one of your testers doesn’t work well under any kind of time pressure, you should be concerned about this person’s health.
By any kind of time pressure I mean two of them — negative and positive.

Negative time pressure can be represented by unrealistic deadlines, overloaded workflow, an enormous number of urgent tests and a stressful schedule of work. I understand that it is an absolutely unhealthy environment to work, but unfortunately, sometimes it happens even in the coolest companies.

Positive time pressure is represented by adequate deadlines, a flexible schedule of tasks, and the realistic expected time for finishing tests.
Here is an example of how you can utilise positive time pressure in your team with aqua.

Set up governing workflows

It’s an aqua workflow. You set all necessary steps up with the expected results. It works almost like a coding algorithm —“if yes, then do this”.

And if you see that some of the steps don’t work like it is supposed to, you just adjust it and adjust your expectations about results.
And right after, you go to notifications and send all your team an email “Hey guys, no rush (or rush). I fixed our workflow, stakeholders can see changes too, we are fine.”

Such a workflow helps you see small steps instead of a scoop of tremendous workload. It’s easier to do small tasks, which decreases procrastination in your team.

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Decrease unhealthy multitasking

I am still waiting for the moment when society finally realises that multitasking is not the norm. And they confirmed it 13 years ago in the Stanford study.

In most cases, it’s just one of the procrastination forms — just switching between tasks making an illusion of work but in reality, avoiding other tasks. Does it sound familiar?

So in this situation, time pressure can be good reins for a tasks-juggler.

You receive an assignment from your manager and have to complete it within a certain timeframe. This kind of pressure can be helpful if you’re given enough time to finish your tasks, but if you’re given less time, it will prevent you from doing quality work on your projects… or switching to other tasks when it’s unnecessary.

You have a certain deadline and a certain amount of hours for these tasks, so please be nice to meet them — here is exactly what our content lead, Tania does in aqua, and it works pretty well.

Get rid of micromanagement

If you have ever seen ”Simpsons” you probably remember the episode where Homer and his family are going on a trip, and kids keep asking, “Are we there yet” during the entire trip. A typical micromanagement case.

are we there yet simpson gif
If you are a QA lead or senior developer, it’s quite challenging to admit that you micromanage your team. But if you do, you better stop. And time pressure can help with better time management in testing without micromanagement.

Start setting up time frames for tasks for yourself first but not for the team. Let’s say you know that this task takes 20 hours to be done, and adequately the first scoop of tests will be done only in 4 hours.

So, don’t go and check statuses an hour after they receive an assignment. Give you a spare hour on the top of these four hours — so, if they are not done with test results yet, then you can go and check in another hour just to make sure there is some progress.

Conclusion

Productivity of your QA and software development team is the final outcome of many aspects, such as efficient workflow, applied methodologies, and rational time management. And it also includes adequate utilising of time pressure.

There should be a balance in using this almighty tool almost as aqua’s QA automation tool. Tight it a little bit hard and you choke your team with too much work and crazy deadlines. Make it too loose and you will drown in procrastination and late releases.

In order to build a successful QA team you will certainly need to explore how to use time pressure for better. And it also might make you face some ugly sides of management — mental health problems, unpleasant management habits, and old stereotypes. But as you master it, be ready, it can bring the sweetest fruits of your work.

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