Remote work is becoming more common than ever. Even as many businesses consider returning employees to the workplace, many others are looking to expand their use of remote work and its advantages. In this article, we will highlight what you need to do when you perform QA testing with a remote team.
For testers who want to see other team members in person for daily standups, quick questions, or even just a different perspective, working remotely can be a big change.
But, with a bit of preparation, and the right processes, distributed teams can be just as effective as in-person teams.
Have regular meetings
The daily stand-up meeting is an opportunity for a cross-functional team to discuss their plan for the day.
Here are some ideas for topics to discuss during your daily huddle:
Assignments for test
Those are useful when a team wants to both coordinate their testing activities as a group and also address cross-team dependencies and responsibilities.
In which environments are certain builds and features useable?
Developers are responsible for creating code in small chunks, or batches. But when there are so many elements to test, and in the unforgiving world of continuous deployments, these questions might go unnoticed.
For testers, it’s equally important. Because most of them aren’t informed about which features are available to test, they may miss pieces that require their attention.
Make sure that the team has received clear communication about the demands, test charters and situations, and any related information. Everyone needs to understand where to find what they require.
Timelines and release preparedness
Let managers know about any potential risks to a smooth software delivery lifecycle. Let them know about roadblocks or process gaps that need addressing.
Prepare the work for upcoming features and include them in the plan in advance.
Keep living documents
A successful remote tests team needs clear, well-maintained documentation. When in doubt, treat all relevant information like your top-priority task. Everything that’s not immediately obvious or is rarely used should be documented and passed on to other team members.
Where it’s safe to do so, a secure database and file storage can be used to store information. This can either be in classic SQL databases, or on more inaccessible forms of data storage such as document-based systems.
Your test environment is constantly evolving, which means that sometimes your team needs to update documentation for the exact details they need.
Whether it’s instructions for VPN access, links to QA builds for mobile apps, or relevant instructions for requesting access to staging equipment, your living document should be tailored around the needs of your team.
Any special information required to complete tests should be saved in a convenient location like TestRail.
Keep your network informed
The team must agree on the frequency of updates. The frequency of updates should be driven by the urgency of the project, with more frequent updates being a good idea for projects on tighter deadlines.
When in doubt, err in favor of over-communicating as you get started. You can always sell back to schedule additional (and less frequent) meetings once you get a feel for how much communication is helpful for the team.
A great communication practice to follow when starting is to use a pre-decided communication style. Start with a scheduled meeting for the team at the beginning of each week to define priorities and cross-off completed tasks. Use this as a time for your team to openly communicate their concerns.
Posting status updates should be:
- Are any issues preventing us from moving forward?
- A recap of the most important findings
- A review of what was completed
- A preview of what is coming up next
If the team is using a good test case management tool, there may be less need for updated, detailed, and specific information.
Define the bug-reporting and triage process
Everyone on the team should understand how to log an issue. This includes following a specific workflow for documenting each issue. This will ensure consistency and provide a record of how each issue is discovered and resolved.
To ensure that this isn’t repetition, teams that are accustomed to being able to work closely and remark on problems as they happen should each develop a routine of looking for ongoing problems.
Regarding the components of the bug report, a strategy for how problems are evaluated and delegated to the development team should be in place. Typically, someone from the team should perform an initial evaluation of the ticket to confirm its primacy. This avoids conflicting information and the submission of duplicate bug reports.
Figure out who is going to take the on-call
Besides handling everyday tasks, the remote team also has to spend their time on little things like which employees are working on which release and who get calls when things go wrong.
Name the common scenarios for a release, as well as the test steps for each. A checklist of these test scenarios will be helpful and make both you and the testers more effective.
While we work hard to ensure that our products are reliable and bug-free, we also need to plan for failures. Having a robust team conduct list is crucial, and immediately notifying your team of an incident will help ensure goals are met quickly. Each situation is different, so each contact plan needs to reflect those differences.
Focus on communicating, writing, and planning
The needs of QA testing with a remote test team rely on a good alignment of proactive and transparent communication across the team. When documentation can be effectively managed, it helps ensure that all team members are accessing the information they need to fulfill their duties.
In conclusion, QA testing with a remote team can be a great way to get things done. But it’s important to remember that some challenges come along with it.
Make sure you’re prepared for those challenges by doing your research, communicating well, and setting clear expectations. With a little bit of planning, you can set your team up for success.
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