The number one rule of user acceptance testing (UAT) is to always ask: What is the cost of not doing it?
Many businesses learned the answer to that question after suffering significant losses due to post-release issues. It is much more expensive to fix defects and workflow issues after release than it is to deal with them beforehand.
UAT is a unique kind of testing, though. For example, your main concern in UAT is not finding defects. Instead, you’re ensuring that the software, system, or application is fit for use in a specific business context. While you may indeed find defects, your main goal is to determine if the system will support user needs in real-time.
And that means you can’t apply the same rules to UAT as you would to other forms of testing.
UAT scenarios should look like business processes, instead of isolated functional test cases. Such a scenario tests a series of procedures or scripts performed in a specific sequence to accomplish a critical end-to-end process. They often mirror an actual workflow that extends beyond just one person performing a given task.
UAT is critical to the business flow
User acceptance testing is a kind of black box, where testing scenarios are carried out in a separate environment with a production-like data setup. It is the final stage of any development process before go-live, with the goal of determining that the software does what it was designed to do in real-world situations. When successful, UAT validates changes in the organization’s business requirements and its end-to-end business flow.
Well-designed, high-quality UAT tests are thorough and reflect user requirements accurately, identifying problems that would go unnoticed in integration or unit tests. UAT tests provide a macro-level overview of how complete the system is. It is one of the most critical phases of software development and change implementation.
‘Is UAT really necessary?’
We still often get that question. And it is somewhat understandable. After all, UAT scenarios can often feel like searching through endless dependencies with a fine-tooth comb. It’s anything but easy, especially after performing so many system, integration, and regression tests.
Nonetheless, UAT is actually the most important phase of the release cycle. It is when your software’s fit-to-purpose is validated in the context of how the system is going to be used in practice. With live data and realistic use cases, UAT plays a vital role in ensuring all business requirements are fulfilled before releasing the software to market.
The problem is that most UAT testing is focused on one function, scenario or test case at a time. But that is not how most organizations operate in the real world. Rather, many processes are being performed all at the same time by different people. Simulating this activity requires multiple test scenarios, executed simultaneously.
Include the business users in UAT scenarios
UAT scenarios can be very time-consuming and difficult to manage. Overreliance on manual work, juggling multiple spreadsheets, and challenges in engaging users hold up the necessary collaboration and provide little or no visibility into testing progress. Test managers often struggle to get business users involved in test planning, as UAT is rarely high up on their list of priorities and they often lack the technical know-how to run effective tests.
The solution is quite simple – have the business user play the role of an end-user for UAT testing. After all, that is essentially what they will be after go-live.
You may think employees don’t have time to perform the tests and create the necessary documentation while continuing their daily activities. But that is not necessarily the case. Ideally, you would manage and execute UAT in a modern, comprehensive test management solution that makes it easy for both technical and business testers.
Nothing is impossible – with the right platform
Tight deadlines and engaged key users in a large-scale UAT scenario may sound impossible. But it is not.
Panaya Test Dynamix, our top-ranked end-to-end test management platform, is how it’s done.
Features like test notifications, collaborative communications, automated documentation, simple defect reporting, and seamless work handovers allow end-users to quickly complete their part in the UAT cycle and get back to business. The result is greater adoption, real-time visibility into each test cycle for targeted fixes, a proven increase in efficiency, and zero risk at go-live.
Yes, UAT is different, but it will save you time, money, and frustration – and isn’t that really the goal of all your testing?