Exercise: Incident Report

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Assume you are testing a maintenance release which will add a new supported model to a browser-based application that allows car dealers to order custom-configuration cars from the maker. You are working with a selected number of dealers who are performing beta testing. When they find problems, they send you an e-mail describing the failure. You use that e-mail to create IEEE 829 compliant incident report in your incident management system.

You receive the following e-mail from one of the dealer.

I entered an order for a Racinax 917X in midnight violet. During the upload, I got an 'unexpected return value' error message. I then checked the order and it was in the system. I think the Internet connection might have gone down for a moment our cable television wend blank at the same time and we use a cable modem for internet access.

Write an IEEE 829 complaint incident report based on this e-mail, and mote any element of such a report which might not be available based on the e-mail alone.

Note that this scenario, including the name of the car model, is entirely fictitious.

Test incident report identifier: This would be assigned by the incident tracking tool.

Summary: System returns confusing error message if Internet connectivity is interrupted.

Incident Descriptions:

Steps to reproduce

1. Entered an order for a Racinax 917X in midnight violet.

2. During the order upload, the system is displayed an 'unexpected return value' error message.

3. Verified that, in spite of the error message, the order was in the system.

Suspected cause: Given that a brief interruption in the Internet connection (provided through a cable modem) may have occurred during order transmission, the suspected cause of the failure is a lack of robust handling of slow or unreliable internet connection.

Impact assessment: The message in step 2 is not helpful to the user, because it gives the user no clues about what to do next. A user encountering the message described in step 2 might decide to re-enter the order, which in this case would result in a redundant order.

Some car dealership will have unreliable Internet connection, with the frequency of connection loss depending on location, wireless infrastructure available in the dealership, type of internet connection hardware used in the dealers' computers, an other such factors. Therefore, we can expect that some number of incident such as this will occur in widespread use. (Indeed this beta test incident proves that this is likely event in the real world.) Since a careless or rushed dealer might decide to resubmit the order based on the error message, this will result in redundant orders, which will cause significant loss of profitability for the dealerships and the salespeople themselves.