Sunday, March 28, 2010

WeekendTesting EWT11: Giving back is not giving up

A new weekend, new chances, new lessons
This weekend I participated in another session of the European Chapter of Weekend Testing. for more details see: EWT11: "To secure the area" The objective for this time was testing a financial application with a focus on security.

This time we had a good guest-facilitator: Anne-Marie Charrett who guided us true the mission and this weekend event. One part of the fun of weekend testing is you get to know different people. See it as the first step. Imagine you participate for the first time; you meet people you perhaps heard of and never worked with. The next time you participate you remember those names. Imagine what can happen when you meet them in real life for instance on a conference. Normally they would be one of those unknown fellow testers sharing the profession. Now you have something else in common which might make it easier to find each other. I hope to meet them some time some day, until now, I will meet them on weekend testing. Perhaps you too?

This time the following persons attended the European weekend testing session:
- Anna Baik (facilitator)
- Markus Gärtner (facilitator)
- Anne-Marie Charrett (facilitator)
- Anuradha
- Ajay Balamurugadas
- Markus Deibel
- Jaswinder Kaur Nagi (just found out that this is "Jassi" :) )
- Maik Nogens
- Thomas Ponnet
- Ravisuriya
- Jeroen Rosink (that's me)

Was it Fun?
As every weekend you have to make the decision: can and will I participate and should I? I decided although I knew I might not be able to attend the whole session to participate.

This weekend I was not able to make the application work, I didn’t succeed to get passed the registration form. Although some others did, and some shared the same “errors” I faced.

Lessons Learned
#Lesson 1: for me it is an error for the organization/developer it is a warning message
This is a mistake we often make. We see an message shown to inform us what is wrong and we cannot continue. Based on all kind of rules like business rules we should not be allowed to continue. It actually tells what to do: contact helpdesk. This seems to be an informational message.
If you see it with respect the situation then it also might be an error message as that message stopped me to continue. The situation was that I was allowed to use the software as I was provided with a license key which I was allowed to use. I also was under time pressure: testing within an hour. Another thing was: I was not supposed to call the helpdesk, so the message was not for me.

As you see; a message can be more then just informational. It is also is an error on multiple layers:
1. it was falsely shown as I ought to have a valid license key
2. it bothered me as I couldn't continue my task
3. the information provided was incorrect as I should contact helpdesk.

#Lesson 2: Security is not only within the application
One of the objectives for this session was to learn more about the security of the application. Although I didn't got that far to use the application, the chance is there that security of my PC (test environment) blocked me for using the app.

When thinking; this made me draw the conclusion that we often focus on the security within the Application Under Test (AUT). During testing we also should consider the security settings of the (test) environment. Although for some testers this has nothing to do with security and more with authorization. In that case you might consider the impact of settings of the environment of the users for the security. Perhaps add checks in your application to check if the security settings are correct? Or inform the users/ application managers under which conditions the application should be used?

#Lesson 3: Giving back an application is not a shame, it should be done considerably
There is a thin border between giving back and giving up. That border should be crossed carefully. Giving back an assignment is the last thing you can/should do. As you are admitting you are not able to do the task. Not doing your task can be taken as not skilled enough, not committed enough, not dedicated enough, or just not enough.
So be careful when giving back, come with argument you did not gave up.

I gave back the mission after I found arguments for myself to stop. I didn't give up as I stayed with the team as long it was possible for me.
Arguments were:
- I tried several option on my PC to get pass the registration form without success
- I tried to obtain help and other license keys, without success
- I tried to get help from other fellow testers, their support didn't work out either
- I check the time with respect to the mission: less time was available even when I would manage testing would make less sense
- I would do better to see what lessons I could learn about this (learning is another mission for weekend testing for me:) )and spent time on that
- not spend more valuable time of other by asking for help.

During the session I formally gave back the mission. I believe it is important to tell it instead of keeping silent so others are aware you stopped. for me the session was njot a failure, I learned from it.

# Lesson 4: On every edge there is something to learn
Although I didn't follow the mission as I intended to do; I took the time to think about lessons I can learn. This confirmed me that you can, should learn and continue learning not only looking to expected outcome. You might have to take a step back and see what the actual outcome could teach you. If you believe that nothing was to learn, you might spend more time. On every corner, edge, situations, there are lessons to learn.

For those who also wants to be challenged by challenging yourselves, you might take part on one of the weekend testing sessions and teach yourselves!

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