That’s Not An Update In Real Time

This does not represent a good practice of synchronizing your application data with the real world:

Twice we had ordered a pizza with extra-large pepperoni. Twice it had arrived without the extra large. See, the order is calibrated to hit everyone’s preferences, and my daughter will only have pepperoni, so: her half has pepperoni and extra-large pepperoni. But twice the pizza has arrived without.

“I’m going to call them,” I said.

“No, Dad, don’t! It’s okay! Don’t make a fuss about it.”

“Honey, a manager would want to know these things.”

So I called, and explained, and the manager asked if I ordered online. I said that I did, modern-type person that I was. That’s the problem. Extra-large has been discontinued, but it’s still on the online menu. Can you tell me what the printout on the bottom of the box said? I noted that it had elided the extra-large issue altogether. So the problem wasn’t on their end. [Emphasis added.]

This isn’t a simple change made on the fly, either. It’s a menu change determined probably by a national pizza chain’s HQ and telegraphed to its franchisees by semaphore or something. Somehow the change managed to dodge the people responsible for the Web storefront.

Forget keeping your application data synched with the other online data. Your application has to keep up with the real world, too. A lot of IT teams and vendors can rationalize not keeping up if the customer doesn’t keep up, but you need to make it easy to change and to grab your client/internal stakeholders by the lapels to ensure they keep you up to date.

James Lileks, from whose blog I took the anecdote, is a patient customer and does not blame his local pizza shop. However, another client will quit a brand for that sort of thing. Especially if that client is in QA.

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