I know… you’re sitting here, starting to read this, and you’re thinking of the ten other things you need to do today. You’re asking yourself if you should even be reading this at all. Whether it’s a responsibility at work, something you need to do at home, taking time to exercise, or simply sitting down to eat a meal, there are probably numerous other obligations demanding your attention right now.
We live in a world where everyone is burdened with endless responsibilities. We allow task after task to be added to our list, and we struggle to prioritize which to do first and which will follow. And many times, we realize that we don’t have time to do everything that needs to be done.
So, what do we do? Some people review their ‘to-do list’ and figure out what is the easiest thing on the list. This gives them some satisfaction that at least something has been done for the day. Others take things on priority. They focus on the highest priority items and put their effort into them. Either way, we are all faced with the struggle of completing everything on our to-do list before time is up.
If you’re seriously overbooked, you may attempt to multi-task. Many believe that they can accomplish more if they double, triple, or quadruple the things they are doing at once so that they can get more done in a shorter amount of time. This is a fantasy.
An article in Psychology Today states that multi-tasking is a misnomer and that the term should be called “task-switching”. This is because the human brain can only do one task at a time productively. Instead of truly combining tasks at one time, we are “switching” from one task to the other. This task-switching process requires a lot of effort to accomplish, and studies have shown that it can reduce a person’s productivity by 40 percent.
As you read this, you may be saying to yourself “That’s not the case with me. I’m not the same as everyone else. I’m a pro at multi-tasking”. There is a slight possibility that you are one of the rare people that are called “supertaskers”. An article in The New Yorker speaks to research by David Strayer, in which he found that approximately 2 percent of those studied attempting to multi-task could be productive at 100 percent. Chances are, you and I are not supertaskers.
In software testing, we are constantly faced with the need to multi-task. Whether the timelines are short, or we’re simply attempting to complete multiple testing tasks at the same time, we find ourselves trying to do more than one thing simultaneously. With software teams shifting to development methods such as Agile and Continuous Integration to increase productivity, testers often feel the need to double their workload in order to meet the needs of their peers in development. Not to mention, with more browser-based products, and more types of mobile devices being introduced into the technical world, we see a growing need to ensure that each browser and device used by the end users will work the same for everyone.
While responsive web design helps to ensure that the product is visibly functional on all devices and browsers, it does not solve for reducing time spent going through each one of them. Automation in testing has provided the ability to conduct “checking tasks” which do not require a human to sit and execute each test. This has proven supportive to test teams which need to perform checking in regression or other repeatable tasks. Automated testing gives the tester time to focus on the hands-on testing of the application, evaluate the product, and explore the functionality. With the number of browsers and mobile devices increasing every day, there begs a need for the ability to test all “X” of the possibilities without a time requirement of “X multiplied by the testing time” for one browser or device. For example, if you have a script that takes one hour to run and you need to test on ten different browsers, that’s ten hours just to check one test case. Figuring you have multiple scripts to execute, manually testing them all would be hours and hours of valuable time every week.
With the number of browsers and mobile devices increasing every day, there begs a need for the ability to test all “X” of the possibilities without a time requirement of “X multiplied by the testing time” for one browser or device. For example, if you have a script that takes one hour to run and you need to test on ten different browsers, that’s ten hours just to check one test case. Figuring you have multiple scripts to execute, manually testing them all would be hours and hours of valuable time every week.
How can testers accomplish this, and how can they do this while respecting a deadline without getting sloppy? One way is with cross-browser testing. Cross-browser testing enables a test scenario to be executed repeatedly across multiple browsers and devices without the need for the tester to process these one by one. Once you have defined how your tests will be executed and you have developed the steps to move through one scenario, you can leverage cross-browser testing to complete the testing for other browsers or devices.
With CrossBrowserTesting, testers can leverage the platform to run parallel automated tests, compare screenshots, and remotely debug on 1500+ real desktop and mobile browsers. The need for organizations to own every browser and mobile device is simply covered by the CrossBrowserTesting software. Manual and automated tests can be executed in parallel, and testers can leverage the platform so that, while the tests are running, they can focus on the other testing for their product. Removing the need to multi-task ensures productivity continues to soar high for testers, while ensuring that all of the testing is completed in the timeframe given.
If you’re facing the challenge of short testing windows, or the need to ensure your product works on multiple browsers and devices, you should consider evaluating a cross-browser testing tool like CrossBrowserTesting to understand the many ways that it can help you and your test team to be more productive.
Let CrossBrowserTesting be your “supertasker” while you focus on the other tasks that you must complete for testing your product. The more time you have that you can focus on each task one by one, the more productive you will be in testing.
About the Author: Mike Lyles is a QA Director with over 20 years of IT experience in multiple organizations, including Fortune 50 companies. He has exposure in various IT leadership roles: software development, program management office, and software testing. He has led various teams within testing organizations: functional testing, test environments, software configuration management, test data management, performance testing, test automation, and service virtualization.
Mike has been an international keynote speaker at multiple conferences and events and is regularly published in testing publications and magazines. Mike’s passion to help others improve and grow, in the field of testing, leadership, and management, is his key motivation. His first published motivational book will be released this year.