Slack Time for QAs

Bit of a vague question, I suppose, but, as a department head, what sort of suggestions do you have for what your QAs could do in any slack time they have? For less experienced members of the team, it’s not too tricky, but the more experienced, it’s more so.

I have a number of slack times throughout the month and there is a number of activities that I use to fill this time. For a little context there is not on a team I work with, so my activities are done on my own.

  1. I have a list of things I want to learn so I will pick one of these up
  2. Using tour’s to test specific aspects of the system.
  3. Using test sphere to devise new tests.
  4. Read blogs
  5. Join a dev and discuss developments happening
  6. Work on initiatives to improve testing.

Only a few items but they seem to keep my busy most of the time.

We are generally empowered and self organizing, every few weeks we get together and discuss what we could be learning or helping others out on and go from there. We have company value’s that can also be used to help guide alongside a broad cross check question, “will it add value to me, the team, the company and the customer now and in the future” if so then just get on with it.

Loads of things on the list, the more experienced people are actually easier the more they know the more they know they do not know but they do need peers to bounce things off to help give them focus and choose the right things.

Do you set objectives/goals for your team members? Normally I find the more experienced team members tend to have a vision of what they want to focus on, whether it would be on a personal level or to improve testing at the place of work.

A decent idea I’ve sometimes done in the past is for the folks with downtime to pick a subject (kind of any subject within reason) they are interested in, go research it for some time (usually timeboxed to keep the focus), then present back to the wider team. Everyone seems to win with this as we all get a presentation/discussion on an area we may never have gotten to or interested in. Also, those shier folks who may not have presented before get to work on that skillset too.

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Either I misunderstand the term “slack time” or there is no slack time in the projects I know.

Testers are always busy with test activities during the sprint.
If a tester is not (nearly never), we do have a backlog/todo list. There are at least some housekeeping tasks to todo or improvements. Or they automate test cases. We plan to execute additional explorative testing. Tasks like this.

But to answer your question, @chris_dabnor
There are websites where you can find games or puzzles for testers (somebody mentioned in the club). Good idea to add some fun and learn.

I would encourage testers

  • to join the developers from time to time, sit beside her/him and look what she/he implements. Maybe pairing for unit testing.
  • to pick up a testing topic they want to learn more about, e. g. to improve their skills on, lets say, usability testing, performance testing and so on.

What about test data, their amount and quality. Anything to improve? This requires experienced people.

The club is full of inspiration.

Let them do the 30-days-of-testing challenges :wink:

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Thank you all for your advice. I’ll try a bit of each and see how it goes. As a company, we do put a lot of emphasis on learning and development (we have a nice library too…), so I’d be more suggesting things than telling.