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Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 5 and off to Phoenix

On the morning of day 4 you start to get grades (red, yellow, green) for profiles that you've failed, may be failing, or passed.  The morning of day 4 usually has very little red because there isn't much danger of failing yet, but if you don't make any progress on that day on a profile, it goes to red Friday morning.  I woke up to two reds this morning on Day 5 that I didn't understand. 

Check Status Frequently
On tracking it down I was reminded that you need to continually check status.  In this case, one critical path test got paused because of missing information in the logs, without me ever noticing.  Not noticing it, I didn't rerun it so there was no progress yesterday.  Thus a red flag. 

Avoiding Test Failure
In this particular case, the test wasn't clear about what information was expected, but it was easily accessed from my logs, so I resubmitted it.  But, I've seen other systems get tests paused or failed for lack of following instructions.   A complaint I commonly hear from connectathon monitors, managers and profile authors is that reading appears to be a lost art these days.  One of the connectathon monitors wears a shirt whose acronym can be interpreted as Read The Free Manuals.  It's important to read the instructions on the tests and then follow them, and be prepared provide even more information than is asked for just in case.

Have the Right Team
Something to add to my list for success is the team makeup that you send to connectathon.  To be successful a system should have at least one technical expert who can quickly find and correct problems in your application code, and you should  also have someone who is detail oriented manager who can plan how to execute the tests, and track that they've succeeded.  Few systems succeed without both skill sets, and you rarely find them in one person (when you do, keep them around).  If you are sending more than one product, you should also have someone to manage your overall participation.  If your application has several subsystems, you may need more than one technical expert.  It helps to have prior connectathon experience.

I've been fortunate that one of the teams I'm working with has that person with both skill sets, another team that has multiple experts and a manager ensuring execution, a third team that read everything very closely, and the fourth team has multiple experts and plenty of connectathon experience.  We didn't get everything done that we wanted to, but we did get everything done we had planned.  That's a successful connectathon in my book.  Well, off to Phoenix.

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