QA tips for coping with task buildup and emergencies at holidays

quality assurance manager's tips on preventing work buildup and dealing with emergencies at holidays

Tips on how to easily come back to work after the holidays or vacations with minimum stress for QA specialists, managers, and everyone who cares about their working tasks.

Big cities and small towns almost all over the world are already decorated and ready for the magical time of Christmas and New Year’s. Even if you’re the most work-minded person in the world, it’s very hard to ignore the laughs and vibes from your colleagues playing Secret Santa. As for me, I noticed today that several colleagues have new haircuts because they’re preparing for the company’s New Year’s party. And this means that very soon many projects all over the world will be paused during this celebration time.

This also means that it’s time to think about the risks of this pause, risk probabilities, and ways to prevent them.

the author's dog posing in front of a Christmas tree at a city square
A holiday picture of Natallia's dog Tara

It’s time for you to prepare for the first working day after the holidays to avert a possible disaster and just feel less stressed after the celebrations.

1. Prepare for your first working day after the holidays

A. Update your calendar.

Check if it has all the required events (for example, release date, calls, meetings) and confirm with all the invited people if they will be available.

B. Update your list of tasks.

Check if you have all the needed documentation, access to environments, etc.

C. Create a list of available colleagues/ someone on the customer’s side for emergency cases.

Clarify their preferred communication channels.

D. Share your actual task statuses before your day off.

In a Slack group, email, etc. And carefully read your colleagues’ statuses to prevent miscommunication.

a snippet of the author's calendar for January the 2nd, 2020

2. Adjust the above approach to your project needs

No one model can be used like a non-adjusted dogma. Each project has its own conditions that should be taken into account. The steps below can be used as a starting point for your thinking process:

A. Create a list of all emergency situations.

Think about all the disasters on your project you’ve dealt with during your career. Brainstorm with your colleagues and see if they can come up with more potential disasters.

Example 1: Possible risk - the person responsible for putting out fires on the customer’s side is not available on your working days and/or you have non-working days when the customer is available.

B. Divide all risks into categories according to their probability - high/low/unknown.

Don’t forget to be honest with yourself :)

Remember that some risks can be calendar-dependent.

Example 2: In the case of Example 1, it’s low probability if you and your customer are in the same country AND there is no release date in January;

It’s high probability - if we’re talking about different countries, different holiday dates, and a release in January;

It’s unknown probability - if you just started working with the customer and the communication model is not fully determined yet.

C. Treat situations with unknown probability as high-probability cases.

D. Check if at least one method from the list in paragraph 1 can help to lower the risk.

Add a new method, if needed.


Congratulations - you made yourself a good gift for your first working day after the holidays.

Happy holidays!

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