ASK FOR HELP

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Pattern summary

Ask for help instead of wasting time trying to do everything yourself.

Category

Process

Context

This is an extremely important pattern if you want to do test automation efficiently: it should always be used!

Description

Ask for help when you need it. Recognise when you have got "stuck" and can't get any further on your own.

Implementation

Find out who has the expertise you are missing and ask for help. Do try to work on your own, but don’t waste time. If somebody can help you to quickly solve some problem, then definitely ask.

Help may be available from other people in your organisation, but also from web sites and discussion groups and forums.

To encourage people to help you, you can use "gamification" (see experience entry from Kristoffer Nordström).

Recommendations
Don’t be afraid to ask for help: most people actually enjoy helping.

Issues addressed by this pattern

AUTOMATION DECAY
LIMITED EXPERIENCE

Potential problems

Do your homework before asking for help so you aren't asking about something obvious. If you want to ask someone for help, check with them first if it's ok to ask now - they may be in the middle of something more important.

Experiences

Margaret Heffernan: Why it's time to forget the pecking order at work
Organizations are often run according to “the superchicken model,” where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. This excellent talk gives evidence for why helpfulness is a key to productivity (as well as social connectedness).

Seretta: an interesting talk about how asking and giving help can really influence productivity and innovation (also for test automation!)

Kristoffer Nordström presented a talk at EuroSTAR 2014 about how to encourage help with "Gamification" and allowed us to report it here.
Gamification – How to Engage and Get Help from Users of a Test Framework

We all have obligations in our daily work, and so do the people we require help or information from. How can we encourage them to help us and bring their expertise to the table? The answer is to turn contributing into a fun game.
I’m a test developer and part of a team developing a test framework that's being used in a global organisation for multiple different systems and users. The users, predominantly testers, spend their days just like you with testing to be done, deadlines to be kept, and new releases always looming around the corner. But the users all use our framework with different systems and tools, with their own unique requirements and own ways of using them.
This leaves us, the development team, always struggling to learn about all the intricacies of their product, weather it’s in Sweden, India, Germany or the US. How do you engage your users, and even get them to eagerly help you fix and improve the very tool they are using themselves – and to top that, how do you get the developers for the different systems involved in contributing new code?
When I realised we needed the help and domain expertise of the users of the test framework we decided to turn contributing into a game – prizes were introduced, titles handed out, and much more. We introduced a leaderboard, handed out public recognition at demos, and also introduced special events and competitions that would award one-time bonuses. Users could earn points and with the points win pencils or t-shirts or mugs.
In this way we were able to motivate our users to help us even in their spare time.


If you have also used this pattern and would like to contribute your experience to the wiki, please go to Feedback to submit your experience or comment.

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