User acceptance testing (UAT) is the final stage of a project’s life cycle prior to go-live. UAT is used to determine whether or not the software or application will be effective in real-world situations. While internal quality assurance (QA) testing is a crucial step in the process, an argument can be made that UAT is even more important to ensure you are receiving the most value possible. Let’s talk about the importance of proper user acceptance testing and how to implement efficient UAT for a project.
What is user acceptance testing (UAT)?
User acceptance testing (UAT), also sometimes called end user testing, is the stage in a project where the software is tested by its intended users. The goal of UAT is to make sure the software performs as intended and no features have been overlooked or contain bugs.
Why is UAT important?
Simply put, developers should build
the product; quality assurance (QA) professionals should handle all the initial testing, and the
end user should be completing the UAT. By sticking to this distinction, we ensure that the software is doing what it is designed to do in the user’s actual
workflow that may have been missed by general QA testing. On top of validating
the end-to-end business flow, UAT is also a cornerstone in helping prevent
re-work after a release. Fixes that are made after the software has gone live can create an unnecessary burden and
typically ends up costing more time and money than it would have if those issues had been caught prior to release. This is where UAT really thrives.
key to successful UAT is adopting industry standards. Let’s go over the steps you can take to successfully implement UAT into a business development
first step to successful UAT is gathering the information required to create
comprehensive test cases. Here, we are defining the sequence of user action,
guidelines for specific tests, and intended results from the user action.
- Scope: While
testing in general is crucial to the success of a business process, there are unique situations where UAT can safely be ignored. Ensuring that UAT is included when
defining the scope of a project means that both the development team and end users can be
assured that resources are not being wasted on tasks that are non-critical to
the overall success of a project.
and Execution: This is where the success of
UAT will really be defined. The best suggestion is to plan time for UAT
sessions before crucial milestones when the development team, dedicated
testers, and end users can meet to create successful documentation. Once a
testing document is created, the users that will be testing can begin work.
At the end of this article, there is a downloadable UAT template that
can be used during this design and execution phase.
- Confirmation: Once
the testing document has been executed and all defects and bugs have been
resolved, it is time to sign off on UAT and then go live.
Accurate and thorough documentation
on the UAT strategy and general plan is crucial to a successful and efficient
outcome. Documentation should feasibly include as much of this list as
- Out-of-scope situations worth testing
generalized agreement on standards that dictate a pass or fail on a test step
to carry out each step in the testing process
for the UAT session as a whole
At the end of this article is a downloadable template that can get your organization started implementing a UAT cycle
into your development workflow.
Starting at the top of the document, you should begin with general information including who will be completing the UAT tests, the project name, and any other information deemed relevant to the project. Just below this header are the columns where the actual test cases will be defined by number. Make sure to always include the date of testing for each test case.
While most of these first columns are self-explanatory, the focus of this article’s training will be in columns C – F, which describe the user actions, expected vs. actual results, and the pass/fail column.
Typically, the user action and
expected results columns will be defined by whoever would have the most
knowledge on potential fringe cases, overall workflow for the project, and
where the most value will be seen from the project.
Following this, the users tasked with completing the UAT will fill out the columns for actual results and pass/fail. If the intended result of a step is completed, no real action is necessary and a quick check in the box defines that step has passed UAT. However, if something unintentional happens during a step in the process, this is where the most valuable information will be found. Issues that would be helpful to add here would be inconsistencies in visual elements within the project, defining whether or not the user experience is intuitive and efficient, and any error messages that may get presented.
Finally, the notes field at the far right is a great spot
for documentation of fixes or where developers or support employees can put the
date that they resolved the issues, which lets the UAT professionals know it is
safe to test again. Think of the notes field as a sort of change log for each
The scope of the
project will dictate whether the bottom tabs of the document are necessary. If
the scope is small and the project does not have multiple iterations or
releases, then we can easily use one dedicated document to complete all UAT.
However, if there are known milestones in the project development cycle, having
separate tabs for milestone-specific UAT sessions is beneficial.
A successful UAT cycle can take some time, but the benefit
of spending that time upfront will prove invaluable to anyone that’s
experienced the hassle and cost of post-release bug fixes. By allocating
resources early in the scope of a project for UAT planning and execution, there
will be greater security in knowing that a project is truly ready to be
released into the wild. While it is great to be skilled in all steps of a
project’s lifecycle, one key thing to remember is: developers should develop,
internal QA should be done by dedicated QA professionals, and the intended end
users should be the last bastion to complete UAT.
If you have any questions regarding
this article, the downloadable template, or user acceptance testing as a whole,
please feel free to reach out to DB Services and let’s see how we can implement UAT in your organization.