Finding the Acceptance in User Acceptance Testing

Finding the Acceptance in User Acceptance Testing

What is the most important word in “user acceptance testing?” Is it user, the individual whose role it is to ensure that the software can stand up to day to day processes and actions? Is it testing, the actual clicks the user is taking to push the software into easily understood actions and results? Or is it acceptance, the comfort that the user will have once the testing is done? The comfort that yes, this software is going to improve my life, my coworkers’ lives, my organization’s business. That this software, this investment that we made, is increasing efficiency and providing business lift.

The Goal of UAT

Acceptance is the goal of UAT. Users must drive the system through real-world examples and stress-testing scenarios. Users must go through the bumps, bruises, and hiccups of learning a new system, and considering how that system will affect others throughout the organization. These users, this testing, is always aiming at the end goal of acceptance: accepting that this is the right system, and the right decision was made. The users within the UAT group will be the organization’s cheerleaders going forward.

Defining Success for UAT

We are often asked what makes a “successful” user acceptance testing phase—is it a UAT with fast results, high-level testing plans, and few issues reported? Or is it UAT with timely responses, a robust testing plan, and many issues/questions reported? If an organization’s assigned UAT group isn’t reporting issues and is mostly quiet…it’s an easy assumption that they aren’t testing. And if they aren’t testing, they aren’t going to accept the system. Organizations with engaged testers report issues, ask questions, request time with experts. These are the organizations who feel confident that they are embarking on a successful rollout of a new software system, and feel confident introducing this software to their wider organization.

Testing leads to familiarity, and familiarity leads to comfort, and comfort to acceptance. Achieving this comfort and confidence can be rocky, but getting through the rockiness with your trusted group of dedicated testers will ensure that your wide user base avoids hitting those same rocks and wondering the same questions—those paths have been smoothed out and the answers are at the ready. The most important word in a software rollout is acceptance—the ease and comfort of welcoming a thoroughly vetted and tested end product.