New Year resolutions are usually a time to drop some bad habits, pick up some good habits, and generally try to make yourself a better human being. As well as personal goals for the year I like to set myself a quarterly work-related goal. Usually the goal focuses on solving a particular problem and consists of mini goals to keep me motivated. Previous goals have led to us adopting Continuous Delivery, tackling load testing, and introducing a bug tracking system. When I started to think about a suitable goal for the start of 2014 I realised that achieving the potential goals would have differing levels of value for me and for my current project(s).
On my current project we use checklists and sometimes even test plans to give the product managers confidence that the developers have checked the important aspects of the feature. Yes, the developers are testing, ask me about it if you want to know more. I come along later and carry out some testing to make sure we’re not losing the plot. I have a personal goal to get rid of the test plans and to hugely simplify the checklists because I want to spend more of my time doing things that I enjoy and that I feel are of greater value. Things like exploratory testing for example.
It would be easy to set this as my Q1 goal for 2014. I’m motivated to make some changes and I have plenty of ideas about how we could go about making these changes. But I realised that this is my goal not my project’s. The product managers and developers like the current process; they find it reassuring to have a finite list of things to check. Although I think we would be in a better place if we change this I have come to realise that you should always fix the problem that people feel is currently the biggest problem. With this in mind it looks like solving the flaky Facebook tests and finding a way to monitor CSS quality will be of far greater value to the project as a whole.
Do you set quarterly goals? If so how do you decide on them?