Experience is a list of lessons learned and mistakes to avoid

Q: Tell me about a time you failed or made a mistake and how you handled it.

A: Couple of years ago, we implemented an accounting hub. Files got transferred from system to system in csv format. We’ve designed it based on business requirements. We’ve tested it end-to-end from source system to target system. No problem! Last round of testing used production data. We found a big issue. One field in the file is “Remarks”. It was blank before but now populated with free-form text. And it’s full of commas. CSV is comma-separated value. Those extra commas messed up the entire file. We reached out to source system developer we needed a code change to put double quotes around every comma. Boy he was mad: why didn’t you tell me at the beginning? It’s a simple change. But it’s a last minute change! We have to go through the project cycle again. Everybody was frustrated. I said: I’m frustrated as you are. But I’m also glad that we found the issue before it goes to production. That’s the purpose of testing, right? Well, it’s a great lesson learned. I put it on my list of “Lessons Learned”: fix extra commas in csv file. Next time when we onboarded a new source system, I shared with source system developer my list of “Lessons Learned”: Look, we have previously failed here, here, here. Let’s not repeat the same mistake again.

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