Good living habits keep you healthy; good test management habits make your testing team strong and ensure consistent success. I’ve led many teams – from 2 or 3 to 30 or 40 people. The following are the habits I always insist on and they keep my projects running smoothly so far.

1. 4W & 1H

4W means: what, when, where, who. 1H means: How.

As the manager, once you assign a task to a team member, ask them these questions:

  • “What’s your task?”
  • “When should you start and complete it?”
  • “Where to start”
  • “Who should you cooperate with?”
  • “How to handle this situation?”

If she/he can answer, basically I am sure she/he will have a good output. Of course, you need train your team to think in this way while accepting a task.

At the beginning of a project, you can ask your team members one by one; gradually, once they are used to this, pick some of them to ask; and in the end, what you need to ask is only “are you clear about your task” to the whole team.

2. Put all the information into a wiki, not emails.

I know many managers or leaders like to share information via emails. Except special cases where I want to communicate with specific team member(s), I don’t use emails. Instead, I post all the information into our wiki space dedicated to our project (in our case, Confluence), and then yell “I just posted a piece of news!” All the team members will go there and have a look.

This accomplishes what emails can do, but more importantly, it stores all the project information into the same place instead of saving into members’ personal Outlook .PST files. You can easily to track the history of the project; when a new guy joins your team, he or she can read through the wiki to catch up quickly. Additionally, it’s easier for another project manager to replace you if you are sick or are transferred to another project. In fact, this way of sharing information serves as project documentation, knowledge sharing, and project archive.

3. “First thing” in the morning.

I often emphasize the things that must be done in the morning:

  • Check emails (even most time you don’t have emails)
  • Check project wiki
  • Check latest defects

When you have all the project information posted, you cannot always yell out a broadcast especially if team members are in different locations. Train members to develop the habit of checking information and bugs every morning.

4. Like meetings.

I like meetings very much, so I push team members to like meetings as well. Meetings are for people to share, to express, to learn, and to have fun. I use meetings to review all the project news and bugs, share knowledge, and make sure everybody is on the same page.

One thing to remember: every meeting must have output. If it doesn’t, then it’s a bad meeting.

5. Understand the big picture.

The manager should not be the bottleneck of the project. Even if you disappear for a couple of days, the project should still run very well. To achieve this, you must ensure that all team members understand the “big picture” of the whole project:

  • Why are we running these test cases?
  • What’s our objective in this cycle of testing?
  • When to release with what approaches to implement it?
  • Why are we doing this task first, second, etc.?
  • What are the next steps?

Everybody should know the answers to the questions like this. They may not understand on their own, so as the manager you should tell them and make sure they understand, and confirm many times over.

It is said that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. For project management, 21 days is far from enough. The manager should always keep these tips mind throughout the entire project.