Sunday 25 August 2013

Family (test) trip to Konstanz.

This summer we hit the road to do some test driving, here is the story about how it went and how it looked like from my testers perspective.

Understand your mission.
I was born in Denmark and spent there my early childhood, because of this, one year of these we want to do a long travel to Denmark in order to show the kids the places where I grew up, but since that is a 2500km trip we liked the idea about doing some test first, So we decided to do a 2/3 scale trip and visit the city of Konstanz in Germany.

Success Criteria.
All 5 family members must return home, at the same time and without any injury.
The car must also make it back home.
The travel expenses had to fit in the budget.
We should all have a good time together.
We should reach our destination.
We should get home at the expected date.
Note that the three first are fixed conditions easy to verify, while the last three are optionals or subjective items, nice to haves but not a requirement.

Plan before you test.
Before we depart, we had a lot of things we should take care of, as checking car stuff, having the needed documentation, hotel reservations... so I did a mindmap where I could update the different items as long as they where completed.

Check your tools.
I updated the GPS map, wrote down the trip on a handy device, downloaded some country music, checked the tire levels (also the spare tire), got a travel fridge, enough water for half way, some books for the kids to read.

Test early.
We planned about starting the trip Saturday morning, but as the previous Friday we had everything packed up, we decided to trade a evening in Valencia for a visit to Avignon. So we booked a cheap hotel in Barcelona and started our journey as soon as we could.

Know your stakeholders.
Because this trip was a family thing, we decided that every day we would see something nice for adults and something fun for the kids, so we went to museums and parks, at least one per day, and by doing this, we all got a nice experience out from the trip.

Change your plan if you feel like.
Once we arrived, it turned out that the information about places to visit that I found on the internet was not exactly the same that we found at the tourist info at Konstanz train station, so we decided to change some items, and we did not go to the Fussen Castle, but we went to the Dornier Museum instead, we also visited Kreuzlingen even that it was not on our initial plans, but the info lady told us that the park over there would be something for the kids to see... and man, she was right, they know how to maintain public parks for small children in Switzerland, and now I know this.
Also, our visit to the Rheinfall turned out to be shorter than expected, as the kids interest on a huge waterfall quickly dropped after 10 min of watching a river, so we spent a longer evening at the Allensback park.

At the end, we visited Avignon, Konstanz, Friedrichshafen, Rheinfall, Kreuzlingen and the Bondesee arounds, we drove about 2300km and we got back home the next Friday, safe and sound and thinking on our next travel.

What have we learnt out from this.
You got to choose how to travel, as you choose how to test.
Either you make a lot of kilometres or you visit some place, but you can't do both on the same day. For us, if we drove 400km then we still had time to spend the evening and see some place, but if we planned 700km for the day, then we would just have time for a bath and then dinner and then bedtime.

It comes with a price.
Whenever you decide to travel, you need some time and some budget to spend, once you got both, you can decide if you want to take a plane, a train, or drive your own car. In some way, when we automate stuff it becomes like flying, where we go from point A to B but we don't really know much about what is in between, but if we want to arrive to somewhere in a short amount of time, then manually driving do not seem to be the best way.

Is it worth?
Yes, both travelling and testing gives you a insight about how is the world around and how does the application work, and if you think it might be expensive, well, then think about the costs of not doing it.

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