If there is one thing in life that is constantly running away from us, it is time. It always seems like we do not have enough of it, and to some extent that is true. To deal with this problem, Povio has taken a proactive approach to better managing time by putting in place a series of processes that are meant to streamline our workflow and make the best use of this valuable resource. By doing so, we hope to alleviate the feeling of being constantly pressed for time and make the most of the hours we have available to us each day.

Now that we all agree that time is priceless, it is essential that we understand the different types of projects that we undertake and the specific challenges they pose. At Povio, we have two distinct groups of QA teams - those who primarily work on a single project and those who manage three or more projects simultaneously. For the latter group, time management becomes distinctively more difficult and, therefore, a more important skill to master.

Time-management struggles are real due to a lack of defined priorities and a tendency to operate on an ad hoc basis. While using the ad-hoc approach in the QA department, it might work for a few weeks, but that's the maximum extent it can go before causing a spiral of burnout among the testers. This may sound extreme, but doing things as you go without a clear path and priorities in mind makes us very likely to overlook crucial details while testing different products.

We would like to share with you how we successfully overcame time struggles, and if you have had a similar experience in this regard, we’d love to hear how you challenged and overcame it.

Below are four key points that we have either implemented or believe to be crucial to making it work:

  1. Be efficient in planning your 40h/week for 30h/week
    If your typical work week is 40 hours, how often do we actually manage to wrap it all up within those hours if there is no actual time planning ahead? That's right, almost never! That's why having a plan in place to maximize efficiency in less time throughout the week gives you at least 5 to 10 hours of "free" time for any unexpected occurrence that you might encounter. A last-minute improvement request from the client? No problem! You have just the plan to cover it.

  2. Schedule the hours for each project at the beginning of each week
    After we have set the layout plan for the whole week, one way to constructively plan QA time management is to divide each task into smaller blocks of time, starting out on Monday (or even better, on Friday afternoon). This gives us a better understanding of the workload, and we also try to schedule it by days. We found out that switching between projects in the middle of the day is very time-consuming, and more bugs are missed because the person has to completely switch mindsets from one project to another. This was especially evident when you had to pay attention to the detailed UI testing on one project while the other project was more focused on functionality.

    If some of the tasks are dependent on other team members' tasks, it's important to communicate this so that we all move forward with the plan accordingly.

    For easier planning, you can use different tools and techniques to break down small tasks, their relationships, and the time needed to complete each of them.

  3. Sync with teams and project managers
    Remember how we said it was important to talk with the team when planning the time for projects and testing tasks in the last paragraph? Here's why:

    - It helps ensure that the QA team's tasks are aligned with the overall project goals and timelines.
    - It allows the QA team to anticipate and address any potential conflicts or dependencies with other team members' tasks.
    - It facilitates collaboration and helps identify any potential issues or risks early on.
    - It enables the QA team to make more informed decisions about resource allocation and scheduling.
    - It helps ensure that the QA team's testing efforts are coordinated with the development process.
    - It helps to build trust and open communication among the team members.

  4. Set fixed days for testing each project
    One of the most important things you should do is set fixed days for the projects you are involved in. This will minimize the risk of testing failure and reduce stress for the tester, as you will not have to constantly switch mindsets and consider which criteria are important for which project.

We implemented these at Povio and started seeing some great results throughout the whole QA team, with the key results being less stressed-out team members, an organized workflow, and a thoroughly tested project.

Here are our suggestions for managing multiple projects at once by utilizing time management skills. What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear them! 🙂