When a studio wants to see how well an upcoming movie will do, they hold advance screenings for test audiences. And in some cases, that audience feedback has caused studios to cut out scenes, add new ones, change endings, and do reshoots. People’s opinions and experiences matter and can affect the outcome of a release.
The software industry has its form of test audience screenings, and it’s called user acceptance testing, or UAT for short. However, UAT is a lot more involved than showing a test audience a movie. That’s why this article will introduce you to the world of user acceptance testing. We will answer questions like “What is user acceptance testing,” “What are the prerequisites of user acceptance testing?” and “How do we make user acceptance testing more effective?” We will also touch upon the challenges of UATs, and how they differ from system testing.
Let’s get things started with a definition.
What Is User Acceptance Testing?
User acceptance testing, also called end-user, user acceptability testing, or beta testing, is the process of testing software by the clients or users to see if the product is acceptable for release or not. The testers are familiar with the software’s business requirements, so they can adequately gauge the product’s readiness.
When Is It Performed?
UAT is considered the last phase of the software testing process, conducted after the functional, system, and regression tests are complete. It’s the final test run before the product goes live or before the client accepts delivery. Consider the UAT to be the bow sitting atop the testing package; it’s not conducted until all other testing is done.
Alpha, beta, and UAT all fall under the category of acceptance testing.
Who Performs UAT?
The testers consist of either people in the target market of potential buyers or a testing team of end-users that includes stakeholders and representatives of every group in the organization.
What Is User Acceptance Testing: The Need for User Acceptance Testing
Technical people who develop software create a product according to the required specifications. That’s their job. However, even if they do everything exactly right, there are still factors such as processes or business requirements that only end-users would understand and want. Sometimes there’s even miscommunication over what’s needed in the application.
Testing plays a significant part in ensuring that all the business requirements have been met before the product goes live. However, in the long run, it's more expensive to fix post-release bugs and errors than it does to run user acceptance tests.
So, by engaging in user acceptance testing, the application’s vendor can make sure that the software does what it’s designed to do for the paying customer and that it functions correctly. If it doesn’t, errors can be corrected and features tweaked to conform to consumer expectations.
Acceptance Testing and V-Model
Acceptance testing is part of the V-Model, a model where processes run in a sequential manner resembling a “V.” V-Models are also called Verification and Validation models. User acceptance testing falls at the end of one of the “V” branches, the final step.
What Is User Acceptance Testing: Prerequisites and Characteristics of User Acceptance Testing
Before a software developer undertakes user acceptance testing, it should ensure that it has taken care of the following issues and specifications:
User Acceptance Testing Process
The overall process is best broken down into three phases: planning, design, and execution.
- Assemble the critical acceptance criteria: The acceptance criteria consist of a list of items that must be evaluated before approving the product.
- Define the Quality Assurance team’s role: How involved will the QA team be? This role could be anything from “none at all” to performing the actual UAT and presenting their findings. Typically, the QA team assists in the UAT and isn’t responsible for running the entire show.
- Define the primary expectations and objectives: Here’s where the test organizers spell out what they hope to accomplish.
- Define the key activities of each phase in the UAT: This stage means breaking down the activities into the following steps:
- UAT Test Initiation: Define the approach, who’s doing the testing, the data requirements, and how the other teams will support the testing.
- UAT Test Design: Validate the business-related scenarios, identify the relevant test data, upload the scenarios and grant access to the involved users.
- UAT Test Execution: Run the test, find defects and conduct defect re-testing and regression testing.
- UAT Test Closure. Create the closure report and make the “go/no go” decision.
User acceptance test governance ensures the procedure has excellent gates and well-defined Entry and Exit criteria.
- Entry Gates: Make sure these tasks are complete.
- User stories are complete and have been signed off.
- Regression testing is done.
- All access and environmental requests are set.
- System and integration testing is finished.
- User Interface validations are done.
- Business users (testers) have been chosen.
- The team has completed a UAT sanity check.
- Validations have been undertaken regarding functional specifications.
- Make sure system testing has full (100%) coverage.
- Ensure there are no critical defects or open showstoppers.
- End to End UAT Validation and Objectives: The team should make sure these are met.
- All applications are stable and functional.
- Browsers and operating systems are compatible.
- Data flow and integrity have been maintained across all applications.
- All necessary business processes are intact and function as expected.
- All transactions have been correctly combined with the business process.
- Business user feedback/review gained on the aspects of the application’s usability.
- The actual performance of the tested application.
- UAT Exit Criteria: These two issues must be resolved to fulfill exit criteria.
- All defects found during the UAT are resolved and signed off.
- Business flows against the business requirements set by the system’s end users have been accepted.
UAT Test Planning
Typically, the system and UAT are planned together. This activity chiefly involves creating a user acceptance test plan, encompassing the test dates, environment, participants, roles and responsibilities, templates, communication protocols, results and their analysis process, and the entry-exit criteria.
User Acceptance Testing Design
This stage covers the collected acceptance criteria from the users. This criteria often consists of a list of test cases, typically using a template that has fields for test number, acceptance requirements, test results, and user comments.
Whenever possible, the testing occurs in a "war room" or conference room sort where all participants assemble for a day (or several) and work through the list of acceptance test cases. Once the tests are done and the results completed, the powers that be make an Acceptance Decision, also known as the Go/No-Go decision. If the users are satisfied, it's a "Go." Otherwise, it's a "No-go."
Tools and Methodologies
These tools are like the tools used in functional testing.
- Tools. Users rely on defect management and test management utilities such as JIRA or QC.
- Methodologies. If a vendor expects its release to go worldwide, it must be tested by a diverse pool of users. Crowd testing is very effective, as it permits users from all over the world to join the testing, validate the product’s usefulness, and provide feedback.
UAT In Agile Environment
The Agile methodology can work with user acceptance testing. At the start of the project, business users would assume the role of key stakeholders. At the end of each sprint, these business users would participate in the demo and offer feedback. Additionally, the sprint would get an additional phase dedicated to the UAT, where the business users handle their validations.
The UAT Team: Its Roles and Responsibilities
The UAT team consists of the following members.
- Business Program Manager: The manager creates and maintains the program delivery plan, reviews and approves the UAT test strategy, and makes sure the program stays on schedule and within its budget.
- UAT Test Manager: The test manager creates the UAT strategy, makes sure there’s a cooperation between the IT team and Business BA/PMO, and participates in requirements walkthrough meetings.
- UAT Test Lead and Team: The team verifies and validates the business requirement against the business process, creates and executes the UAT test plan, implements test cases and maintains their logs, reports and manages test management tool defects through the entire lifecycle, and creates a UAT end-of-test report.
What Is User Acceptance Testing: Seven Challenges of UAT and Mitigation Plans
Here are the seven obstacles that a good team must overcome to create a successful software delivery.
- Planning the test: The plan must be created and shared with the team well before testing begins, so it must be developed promptly while making sure it has correctly identified and prioritized the critical business objectives.
- The environment setup and deployment process: Testers must create a separate production-like environment to run the test and not rely on the setting used by the functional test team. Such an arrangement runs the risk of overlooking real-world issues and test cases. Additionally, the team must effectively control the release cycle and ensure that the correct version of the software is being tested.
- Inexperienced or unskilled testers: Unless a company has a consistent, dedicated testing team, candidates are recruited from various departments. As a result, the testers’ technical acumen or business knowledge will vary wildly.
- Managing new business requirements as defects or incidents: Needs and expectations are often miscommunicated or misunderstood. Sometimes the customer changes their mind and adds new features, then expects the changes to be implemented without considering the time it takes to make the changes.
- Improper communication: If the test process has multiple teams spread over a wide geographical area, miscommunication may arise. There are even issues like the lag time between e-mail responses.
- Having the functional test team conduct the testing: The whole purpose of a UAT is to have the release tested by end-users or at least testers who can replicate that point of view.
- Whose fault is this? Unfortunately, some business users decide to reject the product and look for petty reasons to validate their decision. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s a possibility. The best way to avoid this is to ensure that there’s a good working relationship with the business team (and all the teams, for that matter!).
System Testing vs. User Acceptance Testing
The fundamental difference between system testing and user acceptance testing is that system testing checks the software to see whether it meets the specified requirements. In contrast, acceptance testing determines whether the software meets the customer's needs or not.
Developers and testers conduct system testing, while stakeholders, clients, and testers handle user acceptance testing. And while system testing consists of integration and system testing, user acceptance testing consists of alpha and beta testing.
What Is User Acceptance Testing: How to Make Your UAT Even More Effective
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your user acceptance testing.
Create the Right Plan
Make sure your solution can engage both the business and functional users. Employ collaborative technology to ease coordination between diverse groups.
Employ a good test management solution to accommodate changing scoping needs based on user input. Create test plans that can be re-used.
Make Test Execution Run More Efficiently
For example, use automated documentation to optimize your UAT testing and avoid time-consuming cut and paste functions.
Improve Your Tracking and Monitoring Capabilities
For example, use real-time dashboards to let you track multiple test cycles at the business and test levels.
Reduce Idle Time
If users aren’t aware that it’s time for them to do their part in the testing cycle, it can create delays and bottlenecks. Employ embedded workflow automation tools to notify users when it’s their turn to run a test or use a “close” message to tell developers that a test succeeded.
Use Collaboration Tools to Avoid Communication Issues
Employ defect management tools to avoid communication issues and time-zone difficulties. These tools reduce wasted time by using automated messages that alert the developers of testing errors so that testing can be halted until the issue is resolved.
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