Thursday, 17 September 2015

It meets the business requirements

Recently I came across an interesting software requirements issue whilst eating out at a UK restaurant chain.

They had one of those common deals you can come across in similar chains.  You choose a main meal from a limited, but tasty, menu.  You get unlimited drinks of either tea/coffee or fizzy drinks. (soda) and you can have unlimited access to the salad bar .  To end your meal you get an ice cream sundae.  All of this for the sum of £9.99!

I was with my wife and we both ordered a main meal and a drink.  Whilst our meal was being prepared we went and selected our bowl of salad from the salad bar.  We set about eating our salad, during this time the drinks arrived followed by our main meal.  We only just managed to finish our main meal and was feeling rather full by now.  So when the waitress came over and asked if there was anything else we both said no can we skip the ice cream sundae and just get the bill.

The table was cleared away and the bill arrived......

Can you guess how much the bill came to?

If you are thinking the same as my wife and I you would think the bill would be £19.98.   The actual bill came to £20.13.  I queried this with the waitress and she replied....

"Oh, that is because you did not have the ice cream sundae!"

Our reply was "WHAT", We have less but it will cost us more?

The waitress was very confused and went to see her line manager. Who came over and explained that what they will need to do is order us the ice cream sundaes and then go and let the kitchens know that there is no need to make it.  They did say we could take it with us!  Ice cream, in car for hours & warm day  not a good combination.

All of the orders were taken on a mobile phone app which fed back to the main system and the kitchens.  There appears to be no option to be able to mark an order as one of the deals. Each item is entered individually.  Once you have the four items it now knows which are part of the deal and works out the price.  Now the question to those reading this..... "Is this a defect?"

From the business requirements perspective this is, I guess, what they wanted from the software.

Since entering each item one at a time and then working out if it is part of the deal allows them to manage stock control and keep business costs under control.  It has one less step for the operator to carry out rather than if they had to press a button to indicate it was a deal,

From the end user experience perspective it is flawed.  It appears they did not expect customers to decline something that was in reality free. From the staff working there they had to override the system and implement manual processes to enable the correct price to be calculated. At the same time this will upset the stock control reporting that they have two less ice cream sundaes than they actually do.

When we look at software requirements and we start testing these requirements, it is important we look at the implementation from all perspectives.  This is especially true for systems that businesses use to help facilitate customer service.  Get this wrong and it can leave a bad impression on the business customers.

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