Look for opportunities to shortcut a process

When I'm testing applications, I keep an eye out for opportunities to shortcut a process. For example, if you got to book a hotel room on Expedia, you very likely do the following:

  • Enter an arrival date and end date

  • Enter a city or address

  • Change the default number of rooms and/or travelers

When you click search, you get a set of results back and all of them will have some indication or price and availability. I suspect that this is the "normal" process for booking on Expedia. However, you can also "repeat a trip" using Expedia. When you repeat a trip from your past itineraries, it defaults the hotel selection to the same one from the trip. You just select new dates.

Recently, I did a normal search for a hotel, and Expedia told me that the hotel was unavailable for my dates. When I repeated a previous trip for the same hotel, suddenly those dates were available and I could book. I found that interesting. Apparently, there are different rules that fire in each process flow.

When I'm evaluating what to test in an application, I look for those opportunities where I can shortcut one process with another. It's not uncommon to find differences in rules, available data, or messaging inconsistencies when doing so.