What is User Acceptance Testing (UAT)?
User Acceptance Testing (UAT), or application testing, is the final stage of any software development or change request lifecycle before go-live. It is the final stage of any development process to determine that the software does what it was designed to do in real-world situations. Actual users test the software to determine if it does what it was designed to do in real-world situations, validating changes made and assessing adherence to their organization’s business requirements.
The main purpose of acceptance testing is to validate end-to-end business flow.
User Acceptance Testing is carried out in a separate testing environment. A change, an update, or a new feature is requested and developed. Unit and integration tests are run. All seems to be in order. But then, after it is released to the public, serious problems appear. Rework and retesting are not the most expensive consequences when that happens. Loss of reputation is.
UAT Process Management Best Practices: The Checklist
The key to successful UAT is adopting industry best practices, including five steps that take you through the process from start to finish.
1. Knowledge Gathering for Test Planning
Always begin by gathering the information required to create a comprehensive test. Your list of questions for the relevant stakeholders must include:
- Which business processes should be tested?
- What sequence of actions must be taken for a representative test?
- What are the guidelines for selecting test data?
- What are the intended results of the changes made?
- Which UAT team is responsible for testing?
Generally, the entire process requires a significant degree of collaboration between the integration manager, the different functional leads, and the relevant business process owners.
2. UAT Scoping
Not all business processes must be tested. Some can be safely ignored. It would be best if you never began UAT until you’ve defined the scope of your project. You’ll find that it tends to balloon pretty quickly. Unless you scope in advance, it can become challenging to decide on the fly what is critical for the success of your test.
3. UAT Design
Once you understand the scope of your UAT test, you can move on to design. This includes mapping and assigning different steps to various business users and setting a timeline. As time passes and you have more use cases to reference, this step will become much more manageable.
4. UAT Execution
With your UAT process clearly defined, you can now begin testing, address any defects and decide if you should move ahead to production or not. To make this step optimally efficient, you’ll need flawless communication and balance between testers and developers, focusing on documentation (see below for a deeper dive into this issue), progress reporting, and defect management.
5. Business Objective Confirmation
Once execution is over, and as many defects as possible are resolved, it is time to sign off on UAT and go live. The sign-off approval indicates that the change meets business requirements and is ready for deployment.
Pro Tip: The Importance of UAT Documentation
Documentation of your UAT testing strategy and overall plan is indispensable to the outcome of your current and future tests. It should include:
- Out-of-scope situations worth testing
- Expectations for the test
- General agreements about the standards for passing
- How to carry out the test
- Owners and participants
- Scope of work
- Venue used
Remember to note any successful past use cases, including test structures, management, and outcomes.
UAT test case outcomes
Document your tests and their results with traceable and annotated records that are easy to access and use. (But please don’t mistake Excel sheets for ‘easy to use’.) Here are some examples of the kinds of data to include in your outcome documentation:
- Acceptance criteria
- Business impact (e.g., high, medium, low)
- Business requirement
- Date executed
- Expected outcomes
- Name of tester
- Test case name and number
- Test case steps defined
Your testers should independently record their own UAT results, which should be reviewed daily. In this way, issues can be identified early and addressed immediately.
Be sure that prerequisite requirements for proceeding to production are crystal clear and well documented. Defects arising during UAT can be classified as low, medium or high in terms of impact. Then, resolve any medium- or high-impact before moving to production. Do not defer anything but the lowest-priority items.
Major UAT Challenges
So, you’re at the tail end of testing the latest changes to your application and you are ready for UAT. If you’re still using Excel or traditional test management tools, then one of two things is happening:
You are chasing your business users around.
You are rounding up your globally dispersed business users for a session of round-the-clock testing.
If the first scenario sounds familiar to you, then you’re probably on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Stakeholders aren’t responding to your repeat requests. Yet at the same time, they are pressuring you to get their changes delivered on time – or better yet, yesterday. Even when you manage to get testing underway, you don’t have any visibility into the current status of any cycle.
The second scenario may be defined by fixed timelines business users can’t avoid and flying them in from around the world to a single location. It is not the most effective solution, quickly becoming very expensive and time-consuming in the best of times. During the Covid-19 era, with its periodic travel restrictions, it can be nearly impossible to coordinate effectively.
Other common UAT challenges include:
- Engaging non-technical, business users
- Easing collaboration between users
- Reducing idle time
- Improving visibility and control over the entire testing process
- Ensuring high quality test evidence without impacting user productivity
- Location costs
- Business users’ availability
How to Make Your UAT Even More Effective
With the right agile UAT tools in place, you can tackle those challenges and take the best practices we talked about to the next level. You’ll be reducing the time and effort needed for UAT processes by up to 50%.
Engaging both your functional and business users on a standardized platform from the start is key to ensuring tests reflect actual end-to-end business processes. The right solution will offer collaborative technologies to coordinate among cross-functional, globally-dispersed users, and will be intuitive enough to ensure business users are comfortable with the process.
Scope as Needed
When it comes to scoping your project, you can’t get very far without input from your business users. Yet getting them to list all the important information you need in spreadsheets can be incredibly exhausting. The right test management solution would be able to guide users through this process, intuitively. Moreover, instead of having to rescope each project from scratch, test plans can be repurposed so users can get started immediately.
Accelerate Test Execution
Copying and pasting screenshots of test results into Word or Excel is very time-consuming and prone to human error. Optimize your UAT testing with automated documentation, workflow and defect management. The right tool will help you with exploratory testing and be able to document tests using a recorder for playback as needed, accelerating the process and reducing the back-and-forth between the software development and testing teams.
Evaluate and Monitor
When you start off with a business-process-centric approach, it’s much easier to track processes throughout the test lifecycle. Instead of relying on unmanageable and unreliable Excel sheets, leverage real-time dashboards to help you track multiple test cycles at both the test and business process level. You’ll be able to monitor defects and manage overdue tests with built-in notifications to proactively reassign tests or send reminders to relevant stakeholders.
Execution: Remove Idle Time and Relieve Bottlenecks
UAT workflows often feel like running a relay race blindfolded to your key users. There are so many dependencies they are simply unaware of as they wait their turn in a waterfall-type workflow. This is anything but agile UAT. Instead, you can relieve dependency bottlenecks with embedded workflow automation features – even in a multi-step, multi-tester business process. Notifications, for example, can let a user know when it’s their turn to test within the business process (a ‘Time to Test’ alert) or when a defect is resolved and ready for retesting (a ‘Retest’ notification), and a ‘Close’ notification informs developers of test or retest success.
Evaluation: Accelerate with Built-In Collaboration Tools
Globally dispersed key users are bound to have time-zone and communication issues that can make their whole testing experience even more unpleasant than it usually is. The right defect management tool can sidestep these problems and reduce the time wasted on ineffective communication between testing and development teams, automatically alerting developers to errors during testing and attaching the steps that produced them. When a defect is found, all other tests affected by it can be automatically identified, and testers can be warned or blocked from proceeding until the defect is resolved.
Simplify UAT Testing with Panaya
Does all of this sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. A smart test management solution will help simplify your UAT cycles. Panaya Test Dynamix, our top-ranked end-to-end test management platform, includes features like test notifications, collaborative communications, automated documentation, and simple defect reporting. It allows end-users to quickly complete their part in the UAT cycle and return to business. The result is greater adoption, better ROI, fewer bottlenecks, real-time visibility, and zero risk at go-live. As an end-to-end testing solution that mirrors actual business processes, Panaya Test Dynamix provides those benefits and more, streamlining UAT and accelerating business process testing by 85%.
User acceptance testing need no longer be a battle. Download the eBook How to Simplify UAT Testing and learn how to:
- Automate more elements in your user acceptance testing
- Incentivize key testers with ease-of-use
- Gain business users’ confidence and promote adoption
Accelerate Testing for All Stakeholders
Hear from Our Customers
“We loved Panaya TDx for its collaboration features. It is a user friendly, cloud-based solution that offers easily repeatable test scenarios between similar projects. We would recommend it to any other organization running SAP.”
Pam Brown | Senior Director, ERP Business Process Organization, Bruker
Frequently Asked Questions
User acceptance testing (UAT) is the safeguard against unfinished, ineffective, or faulty software products before go-live. Well-designed, high-quality UAT tests are thorough and reflect user requirements accurately, identifying problems that would go unnoticed in integration or unit tests. Finally, UAT tests provide a macro-level overview of the system’s completion.
User acceptance testing validates the testing done at the end of the development cycle. The software may undergo other testing phases and be completely functional but might still not meet its requirements for the end users. UAT safeguards against faulty, ineffective, or unfinished software products being released. To be effective, UAT should be thorough and reflect user requirements so that the software will not be released with bugs. These issues can be costly and potentially damaging to the software vendor’s reputation.
The software can be completely functional from a technical standpoint and still fail because requirements are not clearly defined or effectively communicated to developers (a widespread problem with evolving projects). In other cases, new code that appeared effective in every virtual deployment model may have been inadequately tested for a dynamic real-world environment.
User acceptance testing (UAT) is the safeguard against unfinished, ineffective or faulty software products reaching rollout. It achieves that goal by answering the question, “Have we produced what customers want?”
Well-designed, high-quality UAT tests are thorough and reflect user requirements accurately, identifying problems that would go unnoticed in integration or unit tests. Finally, UAT tests provide a macro-level overview of the system’s completion.
For example, a purchase order interface might be improved to include a new subfield for online customers. A unit test could confirm that the change was executed and integrated correctly. But it will take a user acceptance test to ensure that the revised order functions correctly throughout the purchase-to-pay process, across multiple departments, from initial creation and approval, through receipt and invoicing to accounting.
UAT is one of the most critical phases of software development and change implementation. It should be run after unit testing so that development teams are satisfied that their code works as expected and after successful QA testing, whether automated, manual, or both. Then, just before the move on to production, the business users put it to the test. Their practical understanding of how the software fits into real-world scenarios can reveal hidden vulnerabilities and ensure the final product meets your organization’s business requirements. They are the last word.
Business users are the actual UAT performers. Key business users are needed for their business know-how on all phases of the UAT cycle – planning, execution, and evaluation and executing UAT before go-live. Functional experts who oversee the technical side of software development play an important role in shaping UAT cycles and interpreting the results. Stakeholders, Business Analysts, and Software Testing professionals can perform these tests, but UAT imposes unique challenges, such as multiple users involved in testing each business process. The right testing management solution should enable project managers and testing managers to easily assign different steps of a single business process to multiple functional experts or key users, who can then run the tests in an automatic workflow.
System testing is performed by testers and developers, while end-users and clients perform User Acceptance Testing. System testing is responsible for testing the interfaces between the components and interactions to various systems parts like hardware, software, and interfaces among systems. In system testing, individual units must be integrated first in separate builds; however, the whole design is examined in user acceptance testing.