User Acceptance Testing – How To Do It Right!

Bold statement right? But of all forms of testing, user acceptance testing is often the most essential to get right. Why? Because when implemented correctly, it’s the most effective in reducing both time and cost, whilst increasing customer satisfaction. User Acceptance Testing, also known as UAT (or UAT testing), in a nutshell, is:

A process of verifying that a solution works for the user

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And the key word here, is user. This is crucial, because they’re the people who will use the software on a daily basis. There are many aspects to consider with respect to software functionality.

There’s unit testing, functional testing, integration testing, and system testing, amongst many others. As part of these processes, we regularly ask questions such as:

  • Does the application crash?
  • Do all the functions accept the correct inputs and give the correct outputs?
  • Does the application consume only the minimum amount of resources?
  • What’s the load time of the application?

Whilst these are valid, and essential, ultimately they’re quite meaningless – if the application doesn’t perform as the end user expects. As software artisans, we need to avoid situations such as:

  • Can the user use the software?
  • Is it really what they asked for?
  • Do they have trouble using it?
  • Does it behave exactly as anticipated?

What Is User Acceptance Testing?

I’ll keep it simple; according to Techopedia, UAT (some people call it UAT testing as well) is:

User acceptance testing (UAT) is the last phase of the software testing process. During UAT, actual software users test the software to make sure it can handle required tasks in real-world scenarios, according to specifications. UAT is one of the final and critical software project procedures that must occur before newly developed software is rolled out to the market.

User acceptance testing (UAT), otherwise known as Beta, Application, or End-User Testing, is often considered the last phase in the web development process, the one before final installation of the software on the client site, or final distribution of it.

UAT is usage of the software by people from the intended audience and recording and correcting of any defects which are discovered. It’s the closest thing to a “_real world_” test available. It gives users the chance to interact with the software and find out if everything works as it should if features have been overlooked, miscommunicated, not communicated, and so on.

DevelopMentor puts it most succinctly when they describe user acceptance testing (UAT) as:

The goal of User Acceptance Testing is to assess if the system can support day-to-day business and user scenarios and ensure the system is sufficient and correct for business usage.

When Should You Start User Acceptance Testing

Whilst UAT – User Acceptance Testing –  is essential, typically, it’s not able to be undertaken until the application is largely feature complete. Guru99 lists 10 prerequisites, which must be met before UAT can begin. These are:

  1. Business Requirements must be available
  2. Application Code should be fully developed
  3. Unit Testing, Integration Testing & System Testing should be completed
  4. No Show stoppers, or High or Medium defects in the System Integration Test Phase
  5. Only Cosmetic errors are acceptable before UAT
  6. Regression Testing should be completed with no major defects
  7. All the reported defects should be fixed and tested
  8. Traceability matrix for all testing should be completed
  9. UAT Environment must be ready
  10. Sign off mail or communication from System Testing Team that the system is ready for UAT execution

Who should be involved in User Acceptance testing?

The most important peer group to include in UAT testing are “real” end users of your software. Every role and stakeholder group should be included which means that people from each group should be selected to join the UAT team.

How To Get Started With User Acceptance Testing

Now that we’ve laid the groundwork for what UAT is and why it’s essential, let’s finish up by seeing how to get started. Normally, UAT consists of four steps. But it can vary, based on whether the application is being delivered to a single customer, or whether it’s intended to be off-the-shelf software, available for purchase by anyone.

Firstly, the criteria by which the software is considered to be “working” needs to be assembled. These are likely to be collated from the system requirements, and user stories. Next, a set of UAT test cases must be created. Centric defines a UAT test case as:

A set of test steps, execution conditions and expected results developed for a particular objective, such as to exercise a particular program path or to verify compliance with a specific requirement

Each case covers a specific usage scenario of the software. It is normally a set of actions which the user can carry out and be able to verify if the software’s worked as intended.

With these in place, the tests then have to be run and the results recorded. Were the tests successful, or did defects result? Any bugs then need to be corrected and re-tested.

Finally, assuming that everything is working as expected, an orderly sign-off needs to be completed. This is done more easily with an individual client, where they state that what they’ve received works as expected and meets their criteria.

User Acceptance Testing framework

User Acceptance Tests might not be called User Acceptance Tests in your organizations. There are various buzzwords – such as alpha or beta testing – out there. And sometimes we also get ask about the differences between UAT and functional testing.

Therefore we decided to collect all our thoughts and knowledge on the different types of UAT in this article.

Conclusion

And that’s what, why, and how of integrating User Acceptance Testing as a standard part of your web development projects. It reduces the likelihood of issues being raised, which in turn reduces the amount of work required in development and maintenance.

Sure, it’s another process which you have to manage, but the reduction in overall cost and a higher level of user satisfaction more than offsets the associated costs.

free user acceptance testing checklist

To help you out, we’ve prepared a UAT testing template which you can download. This covers everything from preparing your team, the test environment, to test execution and evaluation. Feel free to grab a copy to help you out with your UAT testing efforts.

Are you using it in your projects? What success and failures have you encountered along the way?

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I know, I just talked about User Acceptance Testing. Last but not least, I just wanted to give you a heads-up on Usersnap, which is our very own bug tracking and feedback tool, used by companies like Facebook, Oracle, and Google. Feel free to give it a try. It’s free for 15 days.

software testing with usersnap bug tracking tool

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