At any point in their careers, most tech professionals, including software testers with super-advanced QA testing tools have come face-to-face with an impossible project deadline. An all-too-common phenomenon in the tech industry and a major cause of both exhaustion and poor-quality apps is the unrealistic deadline.
There are ways to stop scheduling tasks with badly thought-out deadlines, but it’s always too late in an enterprise setting, as commitments have already been made to deliver in advance. Without involving the software development team, a timeline was decided, advertising began early, or agreements were signed with third parties.
The perfect solution is to include professional participation in the planning phase early, but even without that, you can take steps to make the most out of a poor situation.
There’s a decision to be taken when faced with an unreasonable delivery timeline. Do you do all the requested things, but do a poor job merely because you’re under stress or there is just not enough time to do them correctly? Oh, no. The solution is prioritization and an idea of what “good enough” looks like.
Before we dive into the most effective prioritization techniques to beat software deadlines, let’s look at some of the reasons why does this happens in the first place?
1. Unstable infrastructure and technical issues
Environmental issues – Problems like the server timing out constantly, software build crashing deployments, and similar such problems eat away the test period. Companies also attempt to get away with low-capacity servers and set-ups for make-do. This is really a short-term remedy that does not favor anybody. Really, the standard of testing and lack of precious test time may cost them more. This possibly stems from the fact that the value of a healthy, live-like atmosphere for successful QA is undermined by certain businesses (not all).
Test data inaccessible: Production-like data is a must for any testing project. Another blocking element still is not bringing this into the QA environment on time. Through generating and maintaining their own test results, testers may also get around this, but it is time-intensive and may not always be on-point.
2. Incorrect estimate
If you have begun with an incorrect estimation, things are expected to fail. A successful test estimation must take into consideration the following:
Time for preparatory assignments – We are referring to assignments such as:
- Identifying and assembling a regression suite
- Creating data from tests
- Time for test readiness assessment (e.g.: Smoke/Sanity Test), etc.
Maintenance of test case: Test cases are long-term usage resources. During implementation, they are likely to undergo small modifications. It is suggested that up to 30 percent of the test execution time for these small servicing activities should be devoted to new products.
Reporting/Communication: This entails triage/stand-up sessions, upgrading tools for task administration, etc. So don’t forget to make room for these tasks when planning.
Contingency factor: Guidelines suggest that the initial projections have a 25-30 percent buffer. But seldom do teams afford that. Even then, when possible, leave a little breathing space.
Now that you’ve understood the reasons behind tough QA testing timelines, let’s focus on some of the prioritization techniques that can help you meet them effectively.
Prioritization Technique #1: Break down user stories
Most software testing departments have grown used to the concept of breaking work into user stories these days. The secret several forget is that breaking a storyline into its smallest possible pieces will make it possible to prioritize work in a more granular way. This helps unleash the true prioritization strength.
Imagine a user scenario like this: “As a finance professional, I want to fill out my clients’ financial data so I can achieve an estimate of their projected tax.” We also add validation on the consumer side of forms because it provides customers with quicker input and guarantees a smoother user experience. But does the finance professional necessarily require validation on the customer side to get to the desired calculation?
If you divide “As a finance professional, I need client-side validation on the financial information form, so that I can identify and fix my errors quickly” into your own user narrative, you can prioritize it on your own.
It’s obviously not as essential as your must-haves, so you can set less-important criteria aside in lieu of the basics by breaking the plot. Rely on what you really need and for later, drop all the other little pieces.
Going with this method not only avoids the addition of excessive or trivial characteristics or criteria to gold plating, but it also enables more learning. For example, after a few months of operating the system and gaining user input, you might know more about what kind of validation is most helpful than before designing the system.
In comparison, operating in smaller lots is, for a good cause, a central principle in agile, which really makes you get tasks done quicker!
Prioritization Technique #2: Finding the must-haves and forgetting the others
It’s essential to note that you won’t get anything done when time is minimal. The key is to find and first deliver the most meaningful and important functionality in the first place. That way, when you finally don’t get to anything, the features that aren’t going to get tested thoroughly enough are the least important ones.
In order to sort the basics from the rest, you can use the MoSCoW prioritization process. Try to organize tickets into 4 buckets for the stakeholders: must have (absolutely necessary for success), could have (we can do without it in a pinch), should have (would expand the core functionality) and wish to have (would extend the core functionality) (nice to have).
When conducting a MoSCoW test, it’s necessary to take an active part in questioning the opinions of the stakeholders on what’s important.
The trick is to persevere, to keep asking questions and offering solutions until you have narrowed down to the minimum number of must-dos. And, let’s be frank, this is what we really have time for.
Professional Advice: A QA Testing Tool That Saves Time
Not all QA testing tools are made equal. A software testing tool that speeds up the entire software testing process while keeping the quality intact is the ultimate winner. One such tool is Kualitee which helps in prioritizing all your tasks according to their importance, facilitates communication among testing teams, helps automate tasks, and ultimately assists you in reducing QA testing guidelines.
Everything needs to be perfect to make the most out of a tight timetable, but if you use the proper prioritization strategies, it doesn’t have to take your evenings or erode the standard of what you’re creating. Focus on what is important, be skeptical of what is already done, and be imaginative about how you address issues.
This strategy leads to happy production teams, more active customers, and an overall more successful venture.