Poor Testing Leads to Complicated Coffee

coffee makerPoor testing and a seemingly simple process conspired against me when I tried to make 36 delicious cups of coffee.

Since I make coffee every morning in my own unit at home, and the instructions were posted next to the coffee maker, I was confident.

But I had never made that many cups of coffee or used a commercial coffee maker. And this machine had a thermos-like carafe that held the coffee and kept it hot.

The instructions said the first step was to turn the coffee maker on. It went down the drain from there.

Left Out

Here’s all the items that the instructions posted on the wall left out.

  • The need to empty the water out of the carafe.

The last step in the cleanup routine said to brew a pot of hot water so that the carafe is warm when coffee is made the next morning. That’s because you don’t want coffee to heat up the carafe and make the coffee cold.

But the instructions never said the carafe would be full and you needed to empty it first.

Fortunately, my buddy helping me make coffee (he was a newbie too) discovered the carafe was full before we started brewing.

  • How to open the carafe to dump the hot water out.

Again, my buddy figured this one out. The carafe had a large handle used to carry the carafe. Only when the handle was folded flat against the top of the carafe could you take off the carafe top; it just lifted out.

  • The need to press the Large/Small Brew button to toggle it to the correct setting.

When pressed once, the light next to Large was activated; when pressed again, the light next to Small was activated. Large caused 36 cups of coffee to be brewed; Small only 18. Fortunately for us, the button was already on Large, as that was what was usually brewed; we never even saw this setting.

  • The need to wait until the Ready light glowed, indicating that the hot water was heated to the proper brewing temperature.

We didn’t figure this one out until the coffee was done, and we found it a little more than lukewarm. By this time, our meeting was in full swing and we didn’t have time to wait for another pot. The coffee still tasted good and no one complained.

It was obvious that the person who wrote and posted the instructions had made coffee many times and left out a lot of important steps. It was also obvious that the instructions were never walked through or tested on several people who had never used a commercial coffee maker.

Why it is Easy to Fail

Assuming something is simple is always a mistake; people have different backgrounds, experiences, fears, and different levels of confidence in themselves. A process may indeed be simple, but that doesn’t mean everyone will find it to be simple.

That is a good reason why auditors should carefully walk through a process, ask lots of questions, and do thorough testing.

Preferably with a good cup of hot coffee.




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