User Acceptance Testing (UAT), Oh so important

With any project, the final step before signing off involves what is known as the UAT or User Acceptance Test. There are various reasons why such a test is essential with the two obvious ones being the safety of the program and the confidence of the project team. Nothing succeeds like success and for the project to pass its final test is a cause for celebration.

Mind you there is a certain danger in establishing the end user acceptance in that the testing to grant such acceptance must not import any trouble or problems to the actual project. Testing is fine but it must be done without interference to the material being tested.

There is no point in even beginning the UAT until every stage has been completed. Unless and until every component has been signed off as complete can the vigorous user acceptance testing begin.

The most effective method of testing is by the construction of test cases. Here every possible scenario is created and then subjected to the UAT process. Only by exhausting every possible use of the material/system can the test be considered successful. Failing to test every scenario does not mean the missing test case would not have passed but the risk of not testing every eventuality is far too great to ignore.

The best form of UAT is akin to black box testing. The testing is not concerned with the configuration within the device but rather whether or not it produces what it is designed to produce. The whole point is to consider the real world and what the average person would expect from the material. If experts are not the average person using the program then their expectations and problems are not the ones to be considered.

The major steps in any UAT process are the same as found in other testing programs. The steps include

  • What specifically is to be tested?
  • What are the test cases to be tested?
  • Who will carry out the UAT?
  • Who will document any faults or defects found in the testing?
  • Who will correct any faults, remove any bugs, etc.?
  • Who will sign off on the testing?

These steps are mandatory and must be completed in order in their entirety. Again the point to understand is that the end user is the person working in the real world and not an IT specialist. The test is for the average, everyday operator.

User acceptance testing carries a considerable weight of responsibility. If a software program is not successful because of defects or an inability to deliver what is claimed it can do, then the company faces a welter of problems. Their financial loss could be catastrophic, their reputation seriously damaged, there are legal ramifications and their resources could be tied up in repair or replacement work not foreseen.

So ensure you include UAT in your projects and the sign-off of this step is definitely cause to celebrate.

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