Working from Home? Five Tips to Keep Your Sanity and Productivity Intact

As teams and companies across the globe are following social distancing recommendations, many workers are wading into unchartered territory. How are you supposed to maintain any kind of workflow when your surroundings (and mental state) are different from what you’re used to?

If you are new to working from home, here are five tips to help keep your sanity and productivity intact! Read Full article at https://blog.gurock.com/working-from-home-tips-productivity-sanity/

Embrace the Change

Working from home will be different from working from your office. You might miss the human interaction — the lunches with your team or the coffee breaks and informal chats. You might also feel derailed from your goals a little as you figure out the dynamics of online collaboration tools, remote meetings, and screen-sharing applications that take away time from your actual work.

But this is not the time to get bogged down by these changes. Since most of it is out of your control anyway, it is better to embrace the changes — or at least accept them — to give yourself peace of mind. Try not to fight your new situation or get negative about it.

Manage Your Distractions

Your day at home will be filled with many distractions that may take your focus away from your work. Working can be hard when you see that sink full of dishes or a dirty living room that needs a vacuum. I personally find myself rushing to the kitchen every hour to fix myself a snack, just because I am so close to it! You may also have partners, children or other people living with you who are trying to get through their day too.

It is imperative to create a routine that helps you manage these distractions. First, try to set your work hours at a time that fits your day and your family. Your at-home work hours may not be the same as your in-office work hours, and that is OK. If you can wake up early to get a couple of hours of work done before your kids are up, do that! It will start your day off on a productive note and you will feel less stressed about spending an hour feeding your toddler breakfast. Once you get them to settle down for the day with schoolwork or an activity, you can resume working.

If you have a partner also working from home, manage your time with them in mind. What are the best times to begin working? Do you both want to take a break to have lunch together? How can you split your chores so that you are not perpetually stressed and distracted with them?

Even if you live alone, having a routine and set times for beginning work, having a snack or lunch, and finishing work will help you keep your focus and get things done!

Designate Your Space

This is the most important factor when living with someone else. Being productive requires a space of your own and the feeling of being at work. Even if it is as little as setting up a desk, using a corner in the living room or making your couch your work area, you will need to make the effort! Have your laptop, books, chargers and other stuff you need at hand, and set up that area to feel like your workplace from now on. Use that space consistently for at least a few hours each day and keep distractions to a minimum. 

If you are lucky enough to have a study, home office or other separate room to work, you might need to coordinate with your partner on using the desk at different parts of your day. My husband and I use our study room alternately, mostly with me spending the first part of the day there while he uses it in the later half of the day, since most of his work calls happen at that time. If you and a partner or roommate are both scheduled for calls at the same time, decide on your separate areas and give each other space to work in peace…….

Read More — > https://blog.gurock.com/working-from-home-tips-productivity-sanity/

Published at (https://blog.gurock.com/)

My experience speaking at Testbash Home

The Ministry of Testing (MoT) is definitely the biggest and the most supportive testing community. Having heard so much about their Testbash events conducted world-wide, speaking at one was a long time goal. And I was fortunate enough to be accepted to speak at Testbash Detroit this year. But as things progressed since the beginning of 2020, travels and conferences of any kind were far from possible in light of a the global pandemic of Covid-19. Alas! our dreams were shattered. And though, it was disheartening for sure, the awesome community jumped back from the jolt and got together to bring us all an awesome online event #Testbash Home 2020.

Preparations began and I too got back to preparing my talk, which I had given up on after the cancellations! Took a couple of weekends sorting out the content and slides. Then we had a call to record the talks with the community members Heather and Diana were ever so supportive and so kind with their emails, scheduling and feedback! This was a wonderful idea to have the talks pre-recorded so that we are not hampered by any technical glitches on the event day, while we speakers get to focus on engaging with everyone and answering questions from the community.

As the day of the event approached, I prepared for my live interview. The event had more than 1000 registrations! Definitely making it the biggest audience I have ever presented to. Though the event began late night hours for my timezone, my talk was at a convenient morning hour. So that is when I joined in. Had a wonderful chat with Richard who was the Backstage boss and handling the entire livestream for the entire 24 hours! Checked on my audio & video etc and also had introductions with James who was the host for that part. And then we were live!

The duration of the talk went great. It was surreal listening to myself presenting, and looking at the live chat and questions coming from the participants throughout the talk. Once it ended, I was back live with my video. Me and James continued to discuss the most popular voted questions asked and I answered them the best to my knowledge. It was amazing to see such great comments and kind appreciation by the listeners in the chats once we were done. #Grateful

Once my talk was done, I could now continue to enjoy the rest of the live event! #Testbash Home was an absolute treat with a mix of great content, discussions, community participation, fun hosts and great conversations! It sure has set the bar really high for all online events in the future. I stayed throughout the next 5 parts of the event and only left late at night when it was absolutely impossible to keep my eyes open 😛

It sure felt like a day away from our regular stay-at-home lives, and felt like we had met up with so many people in the virtual world. Some key highlights of the day were-

  • Awesome talks by speakers
  • Black Box puzzles played live with volunteers
  • 99 second talks with many enthusiastic participants, many of whom were presenting for the first time!
  • The breakout room was so much fun – where you could select your avatar, enter a virtual room and just chit chat (and play with Ralph the dogBoss 😛 )
  • The breaks in-between parts had the background noise of an actual conference hall with people chattering and plates clanking. It was so soothing to hear (given the times we are in!) A fantastic idea! 🙂
  • The hosts did an awesome job engaging everyone in informal chats, yoga, discussing shows we are watching, things we are cooking and what not. Considering that it was a 24 hour long event, it sure was a welcome change of pace every few hours.
  • The short intros of all the MoT community bosses was so much fun to watch and made it very relatable. Now we know the faces behind the names.

Overall, TestBash home was an awesome experience, and I was fortunate to get some great feedback for my first ever Testbash Talk! I also loved the sketch-note of my talk created by Louise Gibbs

Sketch note Created by Louise Gibbs

I look forward to taking it further and engaging with this community in a live Testbash event some day! 🙂

Cheers

Nishi

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-5

“Transitioning Typical Processes”

  • There are many processes in a typical project that don’t transition well to agile because they require heavyweight documentation or are an inherent part of the phased and gated process & require signoffs at the end of each stage.

“Metrics can be controversial”

  • Measurements such as cycle time that involve the whole team are more likely to drive you toward success than measures confined to isolated roles or groups.
  • Lean development looks for ways to delight customers, which ought to be the goal for all software development.
  • Metrics that measure milestones along a journey to achieve team goals are useful.

When you are trying to figure out what to measure, first understand what problem you are trying to solve. If your goals are measurable, the measurements you need to gather to track the metrics will be obvious.

  • Figure each metrics Return on Investment and decide whether to track or maintain it. Does the effort spent collecting it justify the value it delivers? Can it be easily communicated and understood? Do what works for your situation. Experiment with keeping a particular metric for a few sprints and evaluate whether it is paying off.

“Projects succeed when people are allowed to do their best work”

  • Defects tracking systems (DTS) are too often used as communication tools & entering unnecessary bugs can be wasteful. Focus on using DTS for the right reasons.
  • Whether your team decides to create a test plan or not, the planning should be done. Each project is different, so don’t expect that the same solution will fit all.
  • Regarding Audits, Processes & Models
    • Traditional quality processes & process improvement models like SAS 70 and CMMI standards can co-exist with agile.
    • Quality assurance teams in traditional development organisations are often tasked with providing information for auditors and ensuring compliance with audit requirements.
    • Examples include what testing has been performed on given software release or proving that different accounts reconcile.
    • Testers can be tasked with writing test plans to evaluate the effectiveness of control activities.
    • Work together with the compliance and internal audit teams to understand your team’s responsibilities.
  • If your organisation is using some kind of process model or quality standard, educate yourself about it and work with the appropriate specialists in your organisation.
  • Process improvement models and frameworks emphasize discipline and conformance to process.

“Standards simply enable you to measure your progress towards your goal”

  • Working with existing quality processes and models is one of the biggest cultural issues you may face as you transition to agile development. All of these changes are hard, but when your whole team gets involves, none are insurmountable.

Mentions and Recognition

Featured in the top QA list by TestSigma on Linkedin & Twitter

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6654394104824328192/

____

My articles featured by the Testing Curator in Weekly Testing Bits

Fighting Defect Clusters in Software Testing http://blog.testingcurator.com/2020/06/07/testing-bits-testing-bits-may-31st-june-6th-2020/
My experience speaking at TestBash Homehttp://blog.testingcurator.com/2020/05/10/testing-bits-testing-bits-mary-3rd-may-9th-2020/
Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-4http://blog.testingcurator.com/2020/04/19/testing-bits-april-12th-april-18th-2020/
Understanding Burnout Symptoms in Tech Workershttp://blog.testingcurator.com/2020/02/16/testing-bits-february-9th-february-15th-2020/

_____

Articles featured by Five_blogs

My Article Featured in Top reads at-
Raise Your Exploratory Testing Gamehttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/07/06/five-blogs-6-july-2020/
Things to Do Before the Sprint Planning Meetinghttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/06/30/five-blogs-30-june-2020/
Fighting Defect Clusters in Software Testinghttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/06/16/five-blogs-16-june-2020/
Four Goals of Testing Beyond Finding Defectshttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/05/18/five-blogs-18-may-2020/
Four Ideas for Self-Care When Working from Homehttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/04/24/five-blogs-24-april-2020/
Four Things That Can Sabotage a Sprinthttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/04/14/five-blogs-14-april-2020/
Do You Have Blind Spots in Your Software Testing?https://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/five-blogs-20-march-2020/
Become a Self-Taught Software Tester in 2020https://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/02/24/five-blogs-24-february-2020/
Four Natural Personality Traits That Make a Great Testerhttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/02/07/five-blogs-7-february-2020/
The Partnership of Testing and Checkinghttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/01/23/five-blogs-23-january-2020/
Three New Year’s Resolutions Every Tester Should Makehttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2020/01/03/five-blogs-3-january-2020/
Three Uncommon Metrics Your Agile Team Should Be Tracking
and
Three Metrics Your Agile Team Should Stop Using
https://5blogs.wordpress.com/2019/12/09/five-blogs-9-december-2019/
Defining Exit Criteria for All Stages of Your Agile Projecthttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2019/11/12/five-blogs-12-november-2019/
Overcoming Barriers to Effective Communications in Agile Teamshttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2019/10/22/five-blogs-22-october-2019/
Three Ways Agile Testers Can Use Walkthroughshttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2019/10/16/five-blogs-16-october-2019/
Three Things to Learn from the Bugs You Foundhttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2019/09/11/five-blogs-11-september-2019/
Scrum, Kanban, and ScrumBan: What’s the Difference?https://5blogs.wordpress.com/2019/08/13/five-blogs-13-augustus-2019/
Four Ways Task Boards Help an Agile Teamhttps://5blogs.wordpress.com/2019/07/26/five-blogs-26-july-2019/

___
Other mentions and features of my articles

http://blog.practicingitpm.com/2020/02/16/new-pm-articles-for-the-week-of-february-10-16/

A Mention by The Pirate Tester!

https://thepiratetester.wordpress.com/2019/06/18/2019-06-18-should-istqb-exist/

Being Featured in the top 75 Software Testing Blogs

https://testwithnishi.com/2018/05/11/this-website-is-now-featured-in-the-75-best-software-testing-blogs/

I am speaking at TestBash Home 2020

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! None better example of this than the zingy, sweet lemonade under preparation by this awesome community at @Ministry Of Testing , bringing the ‘testing’ flavors of the entire world right to your home!

Despite cancellations of a number of events due to the ongoing pandemic, this community has come back together to create an amazing online event. I am super excited to be speaking at TestBash Home 2020 – the first online software testing conference by Ministry Of Testing. It will begin on the 30th of April 2020 and run for a full 24 hours into the 1st of May 2020, traveling all timezones so that everyone in our truly global testing community can get involved. 

I am honored to be a part of such an awesome line-up of speakers. These hours are going to be packed full of interactive sessions including talks, panels, challenges, plus we’ll relive and reflect on some classic TestBash talks.

Speakers List – TestBash Home 2020

The agenda is live now-

Checkout more details about the event and schedule here –https://www.ministryoftesting.com/events/testbash-home-2020

Follow the updates on Twitter—

Register now for loads of fun and learning and engaging with a worldwide community of testers right from your home!

Cheers

Nishi

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-4

“Team Logistics”

  • Testers on agile teams feel very strongly about their role as customer advocate and also feel they can influence the rest of the team with their quality thinking.
  • Testers also need training on pair testing, working with incomplete and changing requirements, automation and all of the other new skills that are required.
  • Programmers also might need coaching to understand the importance of business-facing tests and the whole-team approach to writing and automating tests.
  • The pairing of programmers and testers can only improve communication about the quality of the product.

“One major advantage of an integrated project team is that there’s only one budget and one schedule.”

The difference between a traditional cross-functional team and an agile team is the approach to the whole-team effort. Members are not just “representing” their functions in the team but are becoming true members of the team for as long as the project or permanent team exists.

  • The best teams are those that have learned to work together and have developed trust with one another.
  • Teams work better when they have ready access to all team members, easy visibility of all progress charts and an environment that fosters communication.
  • Teams make the best progress when they’re empowered to identify and solve their own problems. If you’re a manager, resist the temptation to impose all your good ideas on the team.
  • Make sure testers are involved in all meetings! If you are a tester and someone forgets to invite you to a meeting, invite yourself!

“Courage is especially important. Get up and go talk to people; ask how you can help. Reach out to team members and other teams for direct communication. Notice impediments ad ask the team to help remove them.”

Agile development works because it gets obstacles out of our path and lets us do our best work.

——- On to the next one!

Cheers

Nishi

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-3

“Cultural Challenges”

This chapter is dedicated to talking about organisational problems with agile adoption, mostly from a cultural point of view- how people perceive changes, how they work, giving up control and also taking charge. It is a very comprehensive description of many problems we see on a daily basis at our work and in teams struggling with agile transformation.

Points to remember and Quotable Quotes

  • Agile teams are best suites for organisations that allow independent thinking.
  • Fear is a powerful emotion, and if not addressed, it can jeopardize the transition into agile
  • Testers who don’t change their approach to testing have a hard time working closely with the rest of the development team
  • If the organisation culture is to push towards release without caring for quality, the teams will face an uphill battle in working in agile
  • Companies where testers assume the role of ‘Quality Police’ will also have a challenge since teams will not buy-into the idea of building quality in, as they are accustomed to badgering it in later.
  • If your organisation focuses on learning, it will encourage continuous process improvement and will likely adopt agile much more quickly.
  • Testers need time and training, like everyone else learning to work in agile
  • To help testers adjust, you may need to bring in an experienced agile testing coach to act as a mentor and a teacher.

Agile focuses on working at a sustainable pace, all the time. In contrast to the ‘fast and furious’ testing done at the end of release cycles in traditional projects (often amounting to overtime). In agile, if overtime is required, it is an exception, and that too for the whole team and not just the testers.

  • In agile, the relationship between the customer and the development team is more a partnership than a vendor-supplier relationship.
  • Even if an entire company adopts agile, some teams make the transition more successfully than others.

About Introducing Change-

“Expect and Accept Chaos as you implement Agile Processes.”

Find the areas of most pain, determine what practices will solve the problem so that you can get some immediate progress out of the chaos.

  • The critical success factor is whether the team takes ownership and has the ability to customise its approach
  • Celebrate success- Acknowledgement is important if you want a change to stick.
  • Rather than managing the team’s activities at a low level, managers of agile teams focus on removing obstacles so that team members can do their best work

“Agile development might seem fast-paced, but the change can seem glacial”

Beware of the Quality Police mentality— Be a collaborator, not an enforcer

The highlight of this chapter for me was reading the ‘Testers Bill of Rights’

I had not heard about this before , so reading this was pretty cool, and for sure fundamental to any tester’s life. Check it out-

Read Along- ‘Agile Testing’ Chapter-2

“The Principles for agile testers”

Points to remember and Quotable Quotes

Definition of Agile Tester-

“A professional tester who embraces change, collaborates well with both technical and businesspeople, and understands the concept of using tests to document requirements and drive development.”

  • Skills are important, but attitude counts more
  • An agile tester does not see herself as a quality police officer, protecting her customers from inadequate code.
  • Agile testers don’t limit themselves to solving only testing issues.
  • Creativity, openness to ideas, willingness to take on any task or role, focus on the customer and a constant view of the big picture – are some components of the agile testing mindset.
  • A team that guides itself with agile values and principles will have higher team morale and better velocity than a poorly functioning team of talented individuals.
  • The principles important for agile testers are –
    • Provide continuous feedback
    • Deliver value to customer
    • Enable face-to-face communication
    • Have courage
    • Keep it Simple
    • Practice continuous improvement
    • Respond to change
    • Self-organize
    • Focus on people
    • Enjoy
  • AATD “Agile Attention Deficit Disorder” – Anything not learned quickly might be deemed useless!
  • Automating tests is hard, but it is much easier when you have the whole team working together.
  • Agile development rewards the agile tester’s passion for her work!

I had written an article about differences between Agile and Traditional testing approaches a few years back. Though I had not read this book at the time, I now feel how many of the points were similar and resonate the same even now. You can read my article here – https://testwithnishi.com/2016/10/20/5-ways-agile-testing-is-different-from-traditional-testing/

***Update **About face-to-face communication** during Covid-19 ***

As I am reading this book during this bizarre time of social-distancing, working remotely and entire nations on lockdown, the part about ‘face-to-face’ communication has a new meaning now. As Janet Gregory also pointed out in response to this article, our definition of face-to-face has changed over the last few weeks over the entire world! We are lucky to have technology that helps us continue effective communication within our teams, have conversations, video calls, screen shares, continue learning over webinars and continue working, feeling useful and being productive.

Hoping things change soon and we can go back to having fun, productive discussions with our team mates over coffee. Until then — Happy social distancing!

*************

Blind Spots in Software Testing

Reduced awareness or unintended ignorance of certain aspects can lead to inattentional blindness, or the failure to notice something that should have been visible because our attention was engaged elsewhere. As a human psychological concept, inattentional blindness also plagues testers and their mindset when testing. In my latest article for Testrail blog, I look at some steps we can take to overcome this challenge and avoid blind spots in our testing work.

Target Fixation

It is a natural response of our brain to avoid getting overloaded with information. It automatically focuses on information that is most important while avoiding unnecessary details and noise.

In many situations, this manifests in our focus on the task at hand and its context so much that we neglect surrounding details. This is true for day-to-day activities like bumping into a pillar while looking at our phones, failing to see a swerving car when watching the road ahead… or not noticing a takeaway coffee cup in the middle of a popular television show set in ancient times!

Let’s say you are browsing through a website with the intention of looking at the layouts that must match provided mockups. While you are doing that, you may miss the following:

  • The homepage of the website has an older logo of the company that should have been replaced by the newer version.
  • The login box has username and password fields but the login button is missing.
  • The URL structure of the website is all wonky and the individual page URLs are not named correctly.

Overlooked Information

Testers often execute tests that have defined steps and expected results, so we frequently overlook anything that is not defined and only check for the results we’re looking for. The tester’s mind is attuned to looking for specified errors, while other information or defects may tend to get missed, even though they may be right in front of our eyes.
Pick up any passed test case and try to re-execute it, but this time keep an open eye and an open mind for any new information surrounding the test. More often than not, you will find that many more defects, risk areas or questions can be found in the same area, despite the test having passed.

Read More—>

Read complete article at https://blog.gurock.com/blind-spots-software-testing/

How Technology Has Changed Project Management

The use of advanced technology in business environments can sometimes be jarring. Adjustments can be difficult, and on top of that many employees across a range of industries worry that technology can make them obsolete. These can be legitimate concerns in some cases. But, more often than not, technology serves instead to simplify processes and, ultimately, make life easier on people as they go about performing their jobs. This is certainly proving to be the case where project management is concerned.

Project management demands and processes vary across different businesses and industries, which means that not all teams in this category can implement modern technology in exactly the same ways. Here we’ll examine a few key ways in which tech can and has changed project management for the better.

Communication & File Sharing

Maybe the biggest change that technology has brought about for project management teams is a simplification of communication among groups in a work setting. In 2019, our post on ‘Overcoming Barriers to Effective Communications in Agile Teams’ touched on the idea that various barriers to regular communication can negatively impact productivity. And the same is absolutely true for project management teams of all kinds.

Now, however, there are several different communications platforms that are being used in professional environments to streamline collaboration. Often enough, they’re used to simplify digital communications in office environments in general, providing a space where everyone from a manager to a part-time freelancer can log in, see shared information, engage in relevant chats, and generally stay up to speed. These platforms can also be invaluable for project management teams.

For instance, think about a fairly common project such as developing a website or an app for a business. These are projects that involve contributions from people with different skills in conjunction with one another. A page design can’t be completed without understanding of the content layout; content layout can’t be finalized without a thoroughly developed visual aesthetic, and so on. On these modern communication platforms, these matters can easily be discussed between relevant parties such that the greater project can move forward. Updates and examples can be shared, and people can easily work with relevant collaborators whenever they need to.

Collaborative Design

In the past, one issue that plagued some project management teams is how to get everyone on the same page in more multi-faceted projects. There haven’t always been structured ways for different aspects of one overarching project to be addressed in a cohesive manner. This is changing, however, thanks in large part to both abstract and specific software.

Read More »