Showing value when there's not a lot to test?

You’re on a team where there’s not a lot of work coming through. Maybe the team is a small one, maybe there’s only maintenance going on for the moment, maybe the features are massive and you’re waiting for the avalanche of work to fall upon you. How do you provide value to the team in visible ways during these quiet times?

What I tend to do is:

  • Try to figure out the ‘invisible’ bits of the process, or workflow, or automation, or things like that. The bits that we know aren’t great but don’t have time to brainspace to look into
  • Try to improve my knowledge and then share with the team. Standups are great for this, or you can organise lunch and learns or quick sessions of what you’ve learnt
  • Talk to lesser involved team members about their needs and wants. Support staff, editorial staff, marketing staff, all these kind of folk may have incredibly useful insights that can be taken back to the team!

I use to be in an agency so having a lot of time is unusual for me, and its taken a lot of time to get used to not testing all the time, so I’m always on the hunt for other ways to be a valuable team member.

Anyone else have any favourite activities for when it’s not crunch time?


Take time off :slight_smile: - especially if you have over time / flex to burn. Being available to do over time, also means the opposite.

Learn new tools, - add some “automation in test” or do some other proof of concept.

Blog, podcast, share knowledge.

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Oh, there is always something I can do other than testing what is currently ongoing in my team:

  1. help other parts of the organization (with test or other QA related work)
  2. do some maintenance on my teams backlog, or checking out what is coming in the next iterations
  3. go over and update the regerssion tests, plan testing for the coming iterations, plan release testing (writing scenarion tests etc.)
  4. documentation is also my responsibility, and there’s always need for improvement
  5. do “ility”-testing

Plan always for downtime
You are probably practising some kind of time-boxing already, simply shift the boxes around is my suggestion.

  • Make the box which you do test planning in bigger, think about what kinds of kit you need for future projects.
  • Make the box in which you do lab maintenance bigger, you use a dedicated computer (not your workstation) to run all tests I assume, so have a good look over whatever your lab is, be it a server farm, or a wall of mobile phones, or just one computer. Love all your tools.
  • Disaster recovery, make sure that you know where bottlenecks and risks in you testing setup and process are, and do a tiny bit of work to reduce the stress when it all goes pear-shaped once a year when a certain timebomb event like a clocks-change or a forced update, or whatever it is, it might be a password change or a certificate expiry. Don’t spend too much time on this.
  • All the above posters suggestions too.
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