User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is the final stage of any software development life cycle. This is when actual users test the software to see if it is able to carry out the required tasks it was designed to address in real-world situations. UAT tests adherence to customers’ requirements. UAT testers aim to validate changes that were made against original requirements.
Who Runs UAT?
Functional experts and business users are both needed for UAT. Experts are in charge of the technical side of software development. However, business users are still absolutely critical to a successful UAT test. After all, they’re the only ones who know exactly what the change outcome must look like. The software can be completely functional from a technical standpoint and still fail because it doesn’t meet the change requirements’ standards. This is true for packaged application testing as well.
For example, a new purchase order has been improved to include a new subfield of Internet orders. A Unit test could confirm that. An acceptance test must ensure that the same purchase order functions properly.
The new format for the purchase order should function properly throughout all of the purchase-to-pay processes. This includes initial creation, approval, receipt and invoice creation and finally, accounting.
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Why Is UAT Testing Performed?
Without proper UAT, changes may appear as though they have been completed. In reality, there might still be work to be done. The only way this problem will then be caught is after the platform has been released and users discover it on their own.
In this case reverting to running a more thorough UAT test is not the highest cost. The loss of reputation is. UAT is performed to answer the question, “Have we produced the result that customers want?”
Thorough, well-thought-out, well-designed UAT tests are important for accurately capturing user requirements in a direct, verifiable way. High-quality tests are also essential for identifying problems that would otherwise go unnoticed by integration or Unit tests. Finally, UAT tests provide a macro-level overview of how complete the system is.
Similarly, UAT tests are also a good safeguard against problems that happen when change requirements aren’t effectively communicated to developers. Developers may think they followed requirements to the letter, but only realize if they made an error after it was released to customers. This is an especially common problem when requirements change during a project. Sometimes, news of these changes doesn’t reach the developers who need to implement them.
Which Test Environment Is Used for UAT?
Ideally, your enterprise should have three environments:
Your UAT test processes should occur within the second environment before your software is released.
Following the right phases is essential to the success of your UAT tests. Fortunately, the four phases of UAT are fairly straightforward.
1. Knowledge Gathering for Test Plan
UAT test planning should always begin by gathering the information required to create a comprehensive test, one that stands the best chance of successfully testing for the requested changes. In order to gather this kind of information, enterprises need:
- The list of business processes they must test
- Guidelines that focus on
- Which data to use
- Intended test results
- The UAT team responsible for testing
- The sequence of actions or test steps that must be followed at a high level
Generally, the entire process requires a large degree of collaboration between the integration manager, the different functional leads, and the relevant business process owners.
2. Business Steps Allocation
Not all business steps must be tested. Some unchanged steps can be safely ignored. You should never begin 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 difficult to decide 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 designing it. You’ll also be using the information you gathered in the first step to designing your test. As time goes on and you have use cases to reference, this step will become much easier.
4. UAT Execution
With your UAT process clearly defined, you can now execute it and decide if you should move ahead with production or not. In order to successfully execute your UAT test, you must appreciate what’s required to manage it.
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Managing the UAT Process
Below are some guidelines for managing your UAT project on an ongoing basis.
1. Decide User Roles
Start preparing for your UAT project by putting together the QA teams that will be responsible for managing it. Teams should include both the UAT owner and the project sponsor. This is usually the business owner.
The UAT owner is responsible for managing the entire project. They will make all final decisions. They are also usually the ones who communicate with the project sponsor, updating them on the status of the project.
The project sponsor is responsible for the test requirements. They are also responsible for guiding the UAT owner. The project sponsor is consulted about changes reported and defects found. They play an integral role in all decisions about change controls. They are responsible for all change control items that receive approval. Finally, they lead the process of securing additional funding.
Other roles will vary, but some degree of support from the development team is almost always necessary.
2. Prepare Scripts
Standardize as much of this process as possible to preempt any potential flaws. Create formal scripts for your test’s business users. Use them to test migrated data and functionality. This step is a great training tool for your business users. It will show them exactly how to use your system following deployment.
Informal scripts are a good tool to have on hand. They can help identify potential defects. For example, your script might tell the user to log in and start the training course. This instruction assumes they’ll understand how to do that. However, you might find that your system isn’t as intuitive as you think.
3. Choose In-Person or Self-Paced Testing
One of the big challenges that will face your UAT test is the location of your team members. For internationally dispersed teams. self-paced testing may be the better choice. If you have the option to choose one or the other, here are some further considerations.
- Predefined time frame, shorter
- Co-located team
- Immediate, sharable documentation
- Lower risk of miscommunication
- Higher levels of team-member engagement
- Requires meticulous planning
- Higher risk of idle time waste
- Independent, asynchronous scheduling
- Lower risk of idle time waste
Requires centralized control
- Keeping tabs on testers
- Defining milestones for the team
- Controlling the project scope
- Ensuring that the right test cases are used throughout the process
- Enabling users to test real-world scenarios that fall outside of the project’s scope
Overall, self-paced testing tends to work best for smaller teams.
4. Create a List of Master Data
Give your business users a list of master data they can utilize during your UAT. This could include anything from login information to the data your system requires in order to function.
If you’re struggling to create this list, consider your business data diagrams. Obviously, the scripts we covered earlier will be very helpful for this step, as well. As you go through them, think about what a user would need in order to execute each one. For example, if you’re conducting UAT on a training tool, provide your users with sample training courses that they can actually take during the test.
Depending on the scope of the testing you’re doing, you may also want to organize this data with spreadsheets or in some other format broken down by test scenarios. This will make it easier for your testers to quickly find the information they need for each script.
5. Create a “User Manual”
Similarly, be sure to provide each tester with a user manual for the actual application but also for the testing itself. Among other things, this manual will tell users where they can find the master data, where to go to access the system, what to document during testing, and any other instructions they need in order to conduct a successful test.
Spell out for them how to document a defect in whatever system you decide to use. We’ll give you some examples of documentation criteria you can use momentarily, but whatever you decide on, make sure your testers understand it.
Design this user manual with the intent of limiting just how much work you have to do to manage this project successfully. Revise it regularly, as well, to address questions you received during the last test.
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6. Determine Your Timeframes
As we’ll cover in a bit more detail shortly, time is going to be another major challenge to the success of your UAT tests. So you’ll want to address its role in these tests right away.
Your testing could take a couple days, a couple weeks, or even a month. It will depend on what your project requires. When managing your first UAT test, you’ll probably find that your initial estimate is a bit off. It will take practice before you’re accurately able to predict how much time your testing will require.
Here are some factors to consider:
- UAT Environment Standards
- Scope of Work
- Availability of Team
- Venue Availability
7. Decide on Your Standard for Documentation
Documentation is absolutely vital to usability testing. It’s the project manager’s responsibility to ensure it is carried out but also to create an agreed-upon plan beforehand regarding how documentation will occur.
8. Define the Change Control Process
Changes may come up while carrying out your test. At which point, you’ll benefit greatly from having a standard change control process in place.
For example, you may run into items that fall out of scope but have to be addressed. If you have a high-quality change control process you can leverage, your team will be able to quickly assess what this item’s impact will be to your:
Ultimately, this will greatly reduce the impact of any item on your UAT test.
Documentation of your UAT testing process is important. It can improve the outcome of your current and future tests.
Testing Strategies and Plans
The documentation for your testing strategy and overall plan 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 the work
- Venue used
Include any relevant test or use cases that were successful in the past. Remember to document tests structure and management, as well as their outcome. Document your test cases. Your documentation should be traceable and annotated.
UAT Test Case Outcomes
UAT results should be as easy as possible to document and access. Many test managers mistake Excel sheets for ‘as easy as possible’ to use. Here are some examples of the data you should provide:
- Acceptance Criteria
- Business Impact (e.g. high, medium, and low)
- Business Requirement
- Date Executed
- Expected Outcomes
- Name of Tester
- Test Case Name
- Test Case Steps Defined
- Test Case Number
Your testers should independently record their UAT results. Documentation should be reviewed daily. Any issues identified early should be addressed immediately.
Users should have well-documented requirements for what must happen before proceeding to production. Classify your issues as low, medium or high-impact test cases. Then, solve any that are medium or high before moving to production. Do not defer anything but the lowest-priority items.
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Major UAT Challenges
Below are the most common UAT challenges. Consider them when designing your UAT test and throughout your testing process:
- Engaging non-technical, business users
- Easing collaboration between users
- Reducing idle time between testers
- Improving visibility and control over the entire testing process
- Ensuring a high quality of test evidence without impacting user productivity
- The time and costs of flying testers to the same location
- Business users availability
Simplify UAT Testing with Panaya
All of this sounds complicated? Choosing your testing management solution wisely can help to simplify your UAT cycles. Looking for a UAT management tool, companies like AGC, Shiseido, and others come to Panaya for help. In rolling out cross-organization, multi-geography UAT project, enterprises are focused on meeting the following requirements:
- Greater key user adoption
- Better ROI
- Fewer bottlenecks
- Total visibility
To get all of the above, It is important to choose a tool that mirrors real business processes. Panaya Test Dynamix is an end-to-end testing solution. It can simplify UAT and reduce testing effort by 30%. Experience Panaya Test Dynamix in action.