The US Travelogues - Boredom

i know you guys might be wondering about when you can see a cheerful word next to my customery 'The US Travelogues' but believe me the current situation do not inspire me to use any of those...

So i am in Atlanta for two weeks. So i am bored. The training room where i sit everyday has a full wall french window right next to me. I can (thankfully) look outside.
Most of the times its sunny. I feel like discarding my sweater and go out for a walk but i just cant.
I am playing role of a QA Administrator and tracker. Big bold terms. in short i am suppose to play a supervisor to all the business users who will be playing around with the application to see what results it gives back. they call it testing. i frown even without realizing it. This is NOT testing. they are checking if system does what its suppose to do. a tester is also suppose to check if system does what it should not do.

I almost go teary eye and frizzy haired while explaining this to helpless users who just simply cant fathom why they are expected to break their system. I do. so i give them example of lockbox and receipt creation. they nodd their heads in understanding and i feel reassured but only for next minute or so.

Next time when i am going through their testplans, i see blanks for all negative test cases and i repeat the circus. This happens atleast four to five times each day and i feel like shouting at top of my voice only once and for all for them to understand why testing is important and that they should take it seriously.

I dont blame them. They are frustrated. The age bracket here is that of 40-50. each one of them have been working on the 'dumb terminals' for all their career and as they say that the company matters, over this period of time they have come closed to becoming what their system is. Inflexible. They dont welcome Oracle even though it 'seems' more user friendly. Its pale blue screen with yellow mandatory boxes, neatly seen List Of Values, RED-YELLOW-GRAY-GREEN concurrent requests... every single thing is new to them and that baffles them.

There are sighs of dissapoitnment, murmurs of restlessness, exclaimation of surprise (oh we need to go for those many screens to arrive at this one!!!). Noone can remain oblivious to it. They havent had training on this new system and they are expected to know it as good as the back of their hand. They hate it so they take this testing or CRP 2 (Conference Room Pilot) less enthusiastically. Lunch time is a picnic and only solace for them because

- its company sponsered
- good for american testbuds
- it has what americans love big time - cheese in it on every single item. Be it Nachos, Pizzas, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Pasta, Salad, Rice, Cake. You name it and find cheese in it.

They discuss their families, travel, dogs, kids, neighbours, taxes, government (in the same order) during the lunch. Thats the only time when i see some excitement on their faces. otherwise it is screwed in concentration. Some of them come to me during meal times to ask me hows India doing (as if i am Sonia Gandhi and i know!). i look up from my cheesy plate and say 'spectacular'. they look into my eyes for the hint of sarcasm. when they dont find it, they laugh (on what they assume to be a joke) and move on.

One of these come to me one day to ask if i find the food too bland for my indian taste. I feel like crying cause yes it does. I am sick of cheese!!!! i nod yes. She goes and gets me a Tobasco sauce bottle hidden in her bag and tells me that her son loves spicy food so she always always keeps one in her bag. Now thats endearing. I say thanks with a heavy voice and resume eating.

but luckily with all that food, i do not feel sleepy. It keeps me awake instead of making me feel like dozzing off next to my laptop. I work some more, running CRP2-Open Issues report after every half a minute to see if any more issues have been logged. I sigh deeply with satisfaction as i see the count going up. One new added issue makes me update 6 different spreadsheet and takes upto half an hour for me to update in my system. That half an hour goes so nicely. I thank God for bugs. My face lights up but users cant seem to understand why or rather how should i feel happy when there is an issue. They give me a reproachful look. i do not bother to explain them about a tester's glory in bugs. Another revolution or century is what it might take for non-testers to understand how a tester thinks or feels. blah!

One of the guys is pot-bellied and looks grandpa-happyish all the time. He laughs very often...sometimes in the middle of a Defect Review Meeting breaking the silence and monotony of the room. His laughter makes me feel as if i am standing under a cascading waterfall... It falls so heavily on me...i dont know whether to laugh or cry..

Some time later, the manager, a hapless lady with bushy unruly hair comes in with a forlorn look on her face and i can sense the admonishing news already. Some system of the maha-system is not ready to be tested. i see some of them smiling while trying to hide it. i see some of them grinning openly. Do they not understand what the news implicates? they do but their short term gain is that they would get out of the wretched room sooner than they were told and that covers up the long term loss it would be if the system is not ready for a timely go live.

i see the manager reassuring people that the system would be ready in a day or two. She tells a (very) few concerned faces that they had anticipated this and has enough room on their schedule to accomodate the down time. The others yawn or look away. She stopps in her speech. I wonder if she is prepping herself for the next pep talk which is hard to come in such helplessly broken situation.

CRP2 is a failure. A complete failure PERIOD. all the major functionalities have massive bugs in them. they dont even need a QA to poke them so that they can collapse. They need a little nudge or a draught of wind to get it back on the earth. Many of the users find navigation difficult to by-heart. It would take practise. Months of hands-on. i want to tell them so but i keep quiet. The Americans need everything fast and simple. Unfortunately Oracle is complex. Its virtue of being flexible also makes it difficult but i am not suppose to have pep talk. I am this strict supervisor for them to check if they are doing their job properly. everytime i open my mouth to say something, they are scared as if i am going to tell them what lousy job they are doing. I dont. I am bored!

i wish people undertsood that projects fail! they really sometimes, despite of all the money it costs, inspite of all the efforts that were put in, irrespective of all the sincere intentions, they fail. The basic building blocks, the very foundation of this project, the design is shaky. Users break the 'experts' in pieces. They dont care how snazzy the system looks. They want return for their money, they dont get it, they shout and make their disapproval very very apprarant. Thats one thing about Americans. They do test how sporty you are. They would not sugar-coat their words. They are upfront and upright about things they want to say. What they do in the situations where they need to eat their own words you think? They just say sorry, put their hands up and thats it.

Its fourth day of testing today. percentage of completion is about 23%. Issues are growing like street dogs...abundantly and shamelessly. Noone can control them! i am tired of keeping the track. i crack my joints, i dig my fingers in, i draw up as many colors on my excel sheet to make it as colorful as i can.

Meanwhile i get some of the test case folders back so i get back to checking them if everyone has executed everything. i see few more failed testcases in one of the folders but i do not see Service Desk request logged against them so i go to the team and tell them to log the tickets so that it can be trated as a defect and can be discussed later on. They look disinterested and without speaking a word to me, go back to the Outlook and show me sent mails. i get confused. if they have sent mails, i should have been able to see the tickets on my log. i check again while they stare at me with What-do-u-know-kid attitude and challenge me to correct them. I feel sheepish. I feel like saying sorry but then a quick glance at their sent items and i (almost) smirk. I politely ask them to check the mail id. They have omitted U from Mail is not sent. i do not see tickets. Now its my turn. i look at them with Kids-are-better-sometimes look.

Then is the highlighted point of the day that everyone is eagerly waiting for. The Defect Review Meeting (dub it as Mud Slinging Match)

There are three teams participating.

- Development
- The Business Users
- The IT Support group (five faces at the end of the rows - Me, three other managers and one training person)

Issues are discussed. Everyone tries to play pass-the-buck within and sometimes outside the team. Users feel exasperated with developers cause they dont understand why a simple change such that a field on a form prepped to take only the capital letters should take more than a week. Developers feel exasperated cause they dont understand why users want it that way. IT Support Group is exasperated because that seems to be the flavor of the moment. They get pulled up in the fight unceremoniously and are more often than not asked to pick sides. A difficult job for the managers but they make faces and ultimately pick one. The other side goes mute in silent protest. The meeting is often a playground for cold war. For someone like me who is not expected to participate but just observe from a safe distance, its flurry of activity after an extremely dull day. Feel amused and hence better! The AC on my head drones some more, washing me with ice cold air. I shiver but i cant budge from my place. I need to keep track of whats getting opened, whats getting closed, whats getting assigned to who, who is frustrated because of this.

Then in the end, i gather my laptop and bag and i get out in warm and pleasant sun. Its 5.30 in the evening. People who were just fighting with a cutthroat attitude wish each other good night and move away in their cars. I have 2 and half hours more of light to go out and check the surroundings. I thank God for bringing another day to an end. Fruitful or otherwise


  1. Look at it another way.. You are getting to know the people and their ways in a very short term :)

    Enjoy it !

  2. Never knew an IT related post would be this interesting and hilarious!!! U have a way with words!