What Is UAT Testing

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) Process Explained

What is UAT Testing?

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is the final stage of any software development or change request lifecycle before go-live. 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.

Why Run UAT?

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.

When that happens, rework and re-testing are not the most expensive consequences. Loss of reputation is.

Software can be completely functional from a technical standpoint and still fail, because requirements are not clearly defined or effectively communicated to developers (an especially common 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 such 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 how complete the system is.

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 properly throughout the purchase-to-pay process, across multiple departments, from initial creation and approval, through receipt and invoicing, to accounting.

When should UAT be run?

UAT is one of the most critical phases of software development and change implementation. It should be run after unit testing, so your development teams are satisfied their code works as expected, and after successful QA testing, whether automated, manual or both.

Then, just before you move on to production, you let some of the people who are likely to actually use the software 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 final word.  

Who should run UAT?

Of course, functional experts who oversee the technical side of software development play an important role in shaping UAT cycles and interpreting the results. However, business users are really the stars of the show when it comes to a successful UAT test.

After all, they’re the only ones who know exactly what the software change or packaged application should look like in day-to-day practice.

Simplify User Acceptance Testing

User Acceptance Testing – Simplified

Help business users make acceptance testing a priority by simplifying it. Gain user adoption and execute faster and safer UAT cycles.

UAT Process Management Best Practices: The Checklist

The key to successful UAT is adopting industry best practices, which includes a series of 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 large 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. 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 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 goes on and you have more use cases to reference, this step will become much easier.

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, with a particular focus 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.

UAT Process

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
  • Comments
  • Date executed
  • Expected outcomes
  • Name of tester
  • Pass/Fail
  • 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.

Sign-off

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%.

Plan Right

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.

UAT testing process cycles

Execution: Remove Idle Time and Relieve Bottlenecks

To your key users, UAT workflows often feel like running a relay race blindfolded. 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 – even in a multi-step, multi-tester business process – with embedded workflow automation features. 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 normally is. The right defect management tool can sidestep these problems and reduce the amount of 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.

That’s why companies like AGC, Shiseido, DHL, and others turned to Panaya. In rolling out their cross-organization, multinational UAT projects with our agile UAT management tool, these enterprises were able to achieve:

  • Greater user adoption
  • Better ROI
  • Fewer bottlenecks
  • Total visibility

As an end-to-end testing solution that mirrors real 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

UAT with TDx-Stakeholders

Hear from Our Customers

Allianz

“We would not have been able to do the testing that we did if we hadn’t had the automation and the acceleration potential that Panaya brought to the table.”

Maximilian Mayrhofer | Global Program Manager , Allianz Global Investors

Read the Full Case Study >

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“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

Read the Full Case Study >

Simplify User Acceptance Testing

User Acceptance Testing – Simplified

Help business users make acceptance testing a priority by simplifying it. Gain user adoption and execute faster and safer UAT cycles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Run UAT?

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.
When that happens, rework and re-testing are not the most expensive consequences. Loss of reputation is.
Software can be completely functional from a technical standpoint and still fail, because requirements are not clearly defined or effectively communicated to developers (an especially common 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 such 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 how complete the system is.
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 properly throughout the purchase-to-pay process, across multiple departments, from initial creation and approval, through receipt and invoicing, to accounting.

When should UAT be run?

UAT is one of the most critical phases of software development and change implementation. It should be run after unit testing, so your development teams are satisfied their code works as expected, and after successful QA testing, whether automated, manual or both.
Then, just before you move on to production, you let some of the people who are likely to actually use the software 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 final word.

Who should run UAT?

Of course, functional experts who oversee the technical side of software development play an important role in shaping UAT cycles and interpreting the results. However, business users are really the stars of the show when it comes to a successful UAT test.
After all, they’re the only ones who know exactly what the software change or packaged application should look like in day-to-day practice.