What user acceptance testing is, (and is NOT)

Oct 11, 2017 by Anna Heiermann

Do you have complete confidence that what you are delivering to your business partner is exactly what they asked for?  How can you be sure?  Have you implemented User Acceptance Testing (UAT) throughout your process, or will they see it in the end?    Here are a couple of insights on what UAT is and what it is not.

UAT is NOT:

  1. The only/first time a business owner should see the application, (and before the deployment). 
    • If that is your current process, it causes risk to your budget, milestones, and overall time. This is because the feedback received is coming later than sooner.  Despite how detailed the requirements were, additional feedback is collected as soon as the business is seeing it and using it for the first time.  Therefore, let them see it sooner and frequently.  The sooner issues are detected, the cheaper they are for the project in the long run.
  2. The only test phase in a project, period.
    • Whatever the reason, it is a myth that proper testing cannot occur until UAT.  This risks the confidence the business will have in the application as it wasn’t tested by a Quality Analyst prior to the UAT for detailed testing.  If testing is limited to a unit test from the developer, and a UAT with the business, chances are there will be some setbacks and issues that will arise that should have been found during integration testing earlier in the project.

UAT is:

  1. A chance for business partners to interact with the product in a test environment. 
  • If the whole point in UAT is to get acceptance, make sure your application puts its best foot forward with good requirements, detailed testing against the requirements, followed by a UAT session with the business.
  • The goal is to have an opportunity to communicate any issues/concerns with usability before the product is launched.
    1. A series of reviews with the business throughout the product life cycle.
      • This is not always done, but the more the business is interacting with the product, the better feedback will be received.
      • This should be accessible each time that the initial integration testing is completed and any working defects are addressed.
    2. A place where end users should have the ability to answer the following questions:
      • Can the user use the software?
      • Is it really what they asked for?
      • Do they have trouble using it?
      • Does it behave exactly as anticipated?

UAT primarily helps to keep the lines of communication and set expectation open between the team delivering the solution and the business partners who will own the solution once it’s released.  The more interaction and visibility into the end product has many benefits on both sides. 

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