User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is arguably one of the most important testing methods in the process of delivering, deploying, and implementing software. This cycle is key in substantiating the value of the software in the business, and also helps to gather buy-in from end users on the new code being delivered. Though the value of UAT is apparent, it often fails to meet the expectations set for it during the planning phases. There are a wealth of reasons why user acceptance testing may miss the mark, but the good news is that there are also a handful of common issues that can be prevented with a planned approach to optimizing and leveraging the UAT resources to the fullest. Here’s come a few things to keep in mind that can help shape your expectations around user acceptance testing to make the entire process more effective:
1. Don’t waste your time doing user acceptance testing unless you’re open to feedback and willing to change your system based off of it.
The number one thing that can derail successful UAT is instilling the feeling in your users that the feedback they provide will not be considered for incorporation into the system. Your end users have a unique point of view on how features should function, so you should plan accordingly to receive actionable feedback from them during this cycle. Failing to do so removes the incentive from UAT testers to provide useful and unique insight. Make sure that the schedule is set in a way that there is time to react and tweak the product when the UAT is performed.
2. Don’t treat user acceptance testing as your final regression testing cycle – the product should be production ready from a functional perspective
Too often, test managers use UAT as a safety net and believe that they can promote a half baked product into user acceptance testing and let the end users find the defects. This is a misguided assumption for a number of reasons. First, UAT testers will burn out if they are constantly blocked from testing functionality or slowed down by frequent bugs. Second, much of the value of user acceptance testing is from having testers test a system that very closely resembles the system they will use in production. Having a buggy system and using the excuse that “it will be fixed by go-live” opens the door for risk that there will be a significant change that will be made in that period that the UAT tester would not have accepted otherwise.
3. Don’t expect UAT testers to test everything (unless you have an army of them)
Unless you have been blessed with a staff of UAT testers that rivals your dedicated testers, do not expect to test every possible scenario or feature during user acceptance testing. For starters, UAT testers are often much slower than dedicated testers – not only because they are less experienced, but because the good ones are typically very detail oriented around the testing the features they will use daily in their jobs. Additionally, you should not try to overburden the UAT testers with testing scenarios that are not typical or even critical, as they do not have the endurance that typical testers will have. They should focus their time closely in short sessions on key areas of the application and provide their feedback quickly and accurately.
Managing user acceptance testing effectively is a unique challenge, but one that should be taken on to ensure that the process is not just another box to be checked, but rather a value added and consensus building exercise. Keeping the above tips in mind will start you on your journey of building a repeatable UAT strategy that can help drive a higher level of quality in your application and improve efficiency in your business.