I don’t like having to figure out what I should be working on. This is the deduction process I use to find out the maximum priority issue at any given time.
- Existing release date takes priority, unless you need to change it per items below
- Written or verbal communication implicating a desired release date
- If the above are missing, then check if it’s a production issue (if yes, then automatically assume a release date of asap, and prioritize)
- If a production issue is especially urgent, then prioritize above other production issues
- Ideally, the urgency is already communicated via factors 1 and 2 above.
- If not, you may notice red flags indicating you should take the initiative to escalate
- Red flags include:
- Size of impact (Lots of users, lots of data)
- Location of impact (Primary workflow, data affecting privacy or money)
- Who is impacted (Personal prestige of client or user, user type)
- Nature of impact (Irreparable damage, no work around, $$$)
- Context of impact (Impact prevents achieving business or client deadline)
- The above are determined using explicit and implicit business knowledge and company culture. The examples listed are not exhaustive.
- Outside the above, any written or verbal communication demonstrating a heightened interest in receiving test feedback
- Some part of the testing on any given project, whether a priority or not, may need to be scheduled to accommodate others’ various needs (need to bring down a service, need two people, need to remove some data, etc.)
If the factors above indicate a priority that the environment does not permit, then you should work to prepare the environment.
Some factors you can change, others you have to wait on.
- Is the code ready and deployed?
- Are the conditions in the test environment ready?
- Is data available?
- What do you feel like working on?
- Does your test strategy for any of your projects have any requirements that influence when it can be executed?
By following this list, you can almost always arrive at the optimal thing to work on at any given point.