Why User-Acceptance Testing is Critical to Software Development

A critical but often undervalued step in the software development process is user acceptance testing (UAT). User acceptance testing allows a select group of the client’s test users to review the application prior to final implementation. Before diving into UAT, it is important to establish a plan that will act as a roadmap throughout the UAT process. Keep reading below to learn more about user acceptance testing and how to ensure that your organization completes the UAT process successfully!

What is user-acceptance testing?

User-acceptance testing, also known as beta testing, is the stage in the custom software development process in which end users will have a chance to test drive the software. UAT is usually performed by a group of test users who represent the total user base.  As test users explore the system, they will perform regular operations in order to assess the ease-of-use, how well the system meets the users’ specific needs, and how well the system will work to allow users to efficiently achieve their objectives through the application. Through user testing, the test users will be able to identify and request any desired modifications to the system to optimize it for the organization’s goals. After implementation of any desired tweaks, the system will then be thoroughly tested again, before making it accessible to the larger user base.

What is a UAT plan?

Prior to beginning UAT, it is important to establish a UAT plan. A UAT plan includes the UAT schedule, a list of team members, UAT feedback procedure, clearly defined acceptance criteria, and a well-documented sign-off procedure.

 

  • UAT Schedule:

A UAT schedule is a timeline for UAT activities. It outlines when the application will be reviewed by the client and provides a timeline for the development team to review UAT feedback. It is crucial that once UAT feedback is provided to the development team that there be communication.

 

  • List of Team Members:

The list of team members includes members of the client team and the development team. It defines clear roles and responsibilities and acts as a guide for the UAT team to reference throughout UAT process.

 

  • UAT Feedback Procedure:

UAT feedback is provided by the client team to allow the key stakeholders to requests tweaks and changes to the application prior to its final launch. UAT feedback is invaluable to the development team because it ensures that the final product will be exactly what the client wants and needs. The UAT feedback procedure should include a UAT feedback template, a designated person to whom the UAT feedback will be provided, and a schedule of when the UAT feedback will be submitted and reviewed by the project team.

 

  • Acceptance Criteria:

Acceptance criteria allows the project team to have a clearly defined set of standards that the application must meet in order to be signed off on. Without acceptance criteria, the UAT may go on indefinitely as there are no benchmarks for completion.

 

  • Sign-off Procedure:

Once UAT is nearing completion and acceptance criteria has been met, there needs to be a documented procedure for signing off on the application prior to final implementation. This procedure should include who will be signing off on the final copy, as well as the strategy for implementation once the application has been approved.

Who should be a test user on your UAT team?

Test users should be an accurate representation of the client’s entire user base for optimal results.  This means that you should select a diverse group of individuals who will ultimately be using the software on a daily basis.  A pitfall that many companies run in to when selecting the test users for UAT is that they only select employees in management roles to review the software. Selecting only managers on a software that will be used by employees at all levels will mean that the software will not be thoroughly tested for the functionality used by employees at other levels. This will leave the potential for issues to go unchecked and necessary functionality to not be included. So remember: when you are selecting your UAT test users, think about the user base as a whole and have representation from every type of user.

User acceptance testing is a very important step in the software development process. Not only does it allow users to preview the application and suggest tweaks and changes but it also gives the development team a chance to identify and correct and outstanding bugs that may not have been caught during the testing process. Are you considering developing a custom business application for your organization? Talk to a consultant today and learn how Aciron’s can transform the way you work!

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