Best practices to make your QA meetings more effective

by Emma Dallas | August 13, 2019 1:34 pm

Have you ever been stuck in a poorly-organized meeting? I mean when you come on time and wait for 20 minutes for its start. Plan? Not clear. Who is in charge? As well. Things are getting to chaos where somebody is speaking, others interrupt, and as a result, nothing is decided. There IS a more effective scenario of holding a meeting with your staff.

We consulted those who have meetings every day and know all possible scenarios thanks to working at different projects with hundreds of meetings a month. A Team Lead of the Game Testing department will share his best practices on how to run a team meeting that everyone will enjoy.

Types of meetings present in the QA team

Why is it so important to hold effective meetings? Let the numbers speak:

Infrographic of well managment
Not inspiring statistics, right? It is relevant for the majority of meetings, and we shall speak about the sphere we have expertise in – quality assurance. Before giving advice and revealing the secrets, we need to make clear what meetings we are going to speak about. The frequency and forms of rallies will depend on the number of factors: project type, its methodology, size of a team, etc. If to speak about the team of software testers, here is the list of the most typical meetings for them:

  1. Regular meetings with team members on project status, issues, and situations to minimize possible risks.
  2. Regular communication with the team on organizational and other issues.
  3. Weekly, targeted rallies on problem situations.
  4. Face-to-face meetings on the interim results of the Individual Development Plan with the presence of Project Manager.
  5. Weekly rallies with the team.

We interviewed Nazar, Team Lead of QA department, and here is what he says about meetings within the testing team:

“Daily meeting became rare as they take too much time. We try to discuss issues in the process of emergence and rely more on tester’s experience to give them more freedom, and therefore, a sense of responsibility.”

These basic types of meetings can be modified depending on the employee’s position and skills. Team Leads, for example, are also in charge of the following communications:

What is the role of QA lead[1] at meetings?

“I ask questions about the status of the project, and, if necessary, plan a further strategy for project testing.” – shares the QATestLab team lead.

All these meetings have different timings, levels of formality and interaction still, they are held with a definite purpose, and should not be taken as chattering during working hours. Want to know how make the communication as effective for business as a vacation for a good mood? Don’t stop reading.

Top 5 advices on improving the meetings flow

Are there any tools that will work for the effectiveness of your meetings? Sure, nobody’s canceled video conferencing, task management software, tools for automatic scheduling and so on. Will they guarantee the boom of productivity for your rallies? I would not bet on that. In 70% of all cases meetings improving is not about using some special software but rather an attitude towards them, the so-called mindset. People are the ones who influence the efficiency of communication and a few simple rules can work better than dozens of elaborate tools.

Clear and visible agenda will save the world

This requirement may seem as clear as a day, but the truth is that plenty of meetings start without a clear plan or purpose. Use one of the ways to visualize the agenda: handouts, access to the online document, or its brief discussion at the beginning of a meeting. This will help everyone to understand the purpose of gathering and navigate the flow. Agenda, prepared beforehand, serves as a guide map during conversation and helps to get back on the track in case discussion ran over time.

“My advice for Team Leads who want to make the most of their meetings: focus on planning and stop word flooding during the meetings.” – says Nazar.

What is punctuality for you?

What could be worse than waiting for a person responsible for meeting to appear? As for me, it is devastating: you plan your schedule and load to be in time and then just sit waiting unable to switch to some other task. Unfortunately, many people with positions and power have this bad habit of being late, which makes others feel less valuable and more dependant. Employees take their cues from the person in charge, and if he/she wants the rally to start on time, it will.

Another skill of a true meeting master is finishing the communication within the predefined timeframes. It will help you to prepare a clear agenda and let others plan their time for the whole day.

Ready? Steady? Set the goal!

This point you should cover while preparing the agenda for the upcoming meeting. The goal defines the purpose of gathering and speaking, and there can be several of them. Make sure you thought over and noted down every issue that needs discussion and the final results that you are about to get. If the participants of the meeting understand why they are gathered and what is expected from them, this will speed up the process and make it explicit.

The fewer people, the better

Want to save time, efforts, and nerves? Invite as few people to your meetings as possible. The most effective rallies have less than 8 people present, which helps to concentrate on speakers, limit the information flow, and avoid unnecessary details.

“We try to hold meetings for 6 people maximum, otherwise you cannot pay the necessary attention to every tester, and the difficulties he/she faced at the project,” – shares Nazar, Team Lead at QATestLab.

Follow-up to make things clear

The best shot for this requirement is to prepare a written document that will hold the discussed issues, made decisions, and things-to-do or the so-called “parking lot” for the questions that need individual discussion or a delay till another call. In case you don’t feel like spending time on this, handle these issues at the end of a meeting:

“I always leave some 5 minutes at the close of each conversation to make things clear. The reason is to understand “who’s got the ball” and what are the further actions to solve this or that issue.” – notes Team Lead of the game testing department.

Main secrets of effective meetings. Summary

Well-organized and structured communication is a road to problem-solving and taking your business to the next level. All you need is to spend some time on meeting planning, defining goals, and addressing the right people. Do not forget to stick to the schedule and give a summary of what was discussed and decided. Brilliant speakers aren’t born, they are taught, and you may take the first lesson from this article where we gathered the best experience of QATestLab specialists. Use these simple but useful blog tips while preparing for your nearest meeting, and the results won’t be long in coming.

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Endnotes:
  1. QA lead: https://blog.qatestlab.com/2019/04/25/qa-leads-responsibilities/
  2. How to Perform Efficient Software Testing: https://blog.qatestlab.com/2013/11/06/2-advices-how-to-perform-efficient-software-testing/
  3. Rules for Effective Software Dev and Testing: https://blog.qatestlab.com/2013/05/20/rules-for-effective-software-development-and-testing-2/
  4. Top Android Devices to choose for Testing Apps in 2019: https://blog.qatestlab.com/2019/08/15/android-device-for-testing/
  5. Effective Cooperation with a Remote QA Team: https://blog.qatestlab.com/2019/07/23/cooperation-remote-qa-team/
  6. What is better: Test Emulators or Real Devices: https://blog.qatestlab.com/2019/07/18/emulators-vs-real-devices/

Source URL: https://blog.qatestlab.com/2019/08/13/effective-qa-meetings/