What to do when the books are wrong? (part 1)

Okay, this is a fun one and it seems to happen everywhere.  What do you do when the book is wrong?  Get a new book, right?  What if all (or most) of the books are based on that one bad book?  Pretty much, nobody is going to believe that all of the books are wrong.  If you bring it up, people just think: who are you to think that you know better than all of these books.  However, if the book is wrong, then it is wrong.  Trying to convince people of it, is no small feat.

It reminds me of a really great Mark Twain quote, “It is easier to fool people than it is to convince them that they have been fooled.”

Naturally, I have an example in mind: “User Acceptance Testing”.  Everyone has heard that term.  You know where it goes, right?  At the end of the dev cycle, just before you release your stuff.  Then, the users look at your stuff and nod their heads and it’s Miller-time.  Everyone applauds.  Cue the credits.

It sounds pretty logical, but in reality, what usually seems to happen at User Acceptance Testing is that the users finally get a feel for the app and ask for changes several times.  No Miller, no applause.  Just head-shaking, a few scouls and more work.

So, what really ends up happening when you do your UAT after dev and test, is that you have to re-write the app and re-test it again.  Then more UAT, followed by more re-writing and re-testing.  Then, people start asking questions, like “sheesh, why can’t you guys do anything right” or “Why hasn’t it been released yet?” or “If you had done it right the first time, we would be done by now”. Yeah, tell me about it, but I am doing exactly what the book says.  So, why is everything sucking so bad?!  Could the book be wrong? Could it?!

The most irritating thing about UAT, is that it should be really obvious that you want the users to view and approve the app before you do any significant work.  Because if they want major (or even minor) changes, it means another dev/test cycle.  But, when I tell a manager that “waiting to do UAT at the end is very risky”, its like I told them that they are currently moving at a speed of over a million miles per hour even though they are standing still!  People don’t want to think.  They want to follow whatever is in their book.  And the book says “UAT goes at the end”.  Yet, they can’t explain the irritating outcome and won’t admit that there has got to be a better way.

More on this topic later…

– Think-outside-the-box time –


About Tim Golisch

I'm a geek. I do geeky things.
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