User Acceptance Testing (UAT) | Why Is It So Important?

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) | Why Is It So Important?

Defining UAT | User Acceptance Testing

Of all forms of testing that we execute as part of quality assurance, user acceptance testing (UAT) is often the most essential to get it right for the users. The purpose of UAT is to determine if the product is market ready, in another word, it is able to perform in the hands of real end-users. In terms of naming, it might not be called as such in your organizations, it can also be referred to as alpha or beta testing.

And sometimes people seem to confuse the differences between use acceptance testing and functional testing. But it's only confusing when you have testing phases and techniques mixed up.

To begin with, quality assurance scheme can be divided into the following 4 main levels (phases) and in this article we are going to focus on UAT which we get asked often by clients.

• Component Test (Unit Test)
• Integration Test
• System Test
• Acceptance Test

4 Levels of Testing

It progresses from Unit testing, Integration testing, System Testing to Acceptance Testing as development work moves ahead.

Following these steps, after units (components) have been tested, User Acceptance Testing comes in to verify that a solution in its final form works for the targeted users in expected environment. It is the last phase of the software testing process that is supposed to give you a confirmation on whether a product or software is fit for the purpose it was built for. And we can check by having real end-users test the product in real-world scenarios. Therefore, it is one of the critical project quality assurance procedures that must occur before the product is rolled out to the market.

It's All About The Users

There is an overlap with other testing techniques, but what makes it different from simply testing functions is that it’s all about the user. Whether the software is constructed in-house or by 3rd party company, any solutions must go through UAT because users are the ultimate audience who would be paying for your solutions. In product management terminology, UAT takes place as beta testing in which a small group of early adaptors try out the product and provide user feedback. This provides you important piece of information for you to know if the solution is meeting both business requirements and user expectations. After that, once larger group of users start to use the solution, market feedback will be provided which product team may want use to determine problem areas that need to be quickly addressed.

Since it puts users’ needs at the center of the discussion, the questions testers need to answer are:

Q. Are the users able to use the solution without error?
Q. Does the solution behave in expected ways and meet promised specs?
Q. Does the solution work when users take a series of unexpected actions?
Q. Does the solution solve users’ problem after all?

How To Plan and Manage UAT

User acceptance tests can be planned and executed following these steps:

1. Determine stakeholders and target users needs
2. UAT scoping including bug management tool and size of testing
3. Design test cases based on product specifications and user journey
4. Summarize test runbook and acceptance criteria
5. Prepare test data (ex. Registration - 3days in use - 1 month in use...)
6. Set up for beta test users
7. Execute the cases
8. Keep track of tickets and user feedback
9. Regression testing on defects found during UAT
10. Confirm fix and have stakeholder sign off

The key to successful and insightful user acceptance testing is to have clear view on target users' needs and expected behavior. By having this understanding, you are equipped to develop defined acceptance criteria and efficient test cases to complete the process fast, as it's impossible to test every bit of the software that meets every single user's expectation.

Secondly, as the purpose is to assess the product's market readiness, it is extremely important to record evidences, track progress with development team and report results to stakeholders. Pre-approved test runbook and acceptance criteria works as the source of truth and choosing the right bug tracking tool contributes to smooth communication with the developers who will be fixing the defects found.

Tips on Test Cycle Management

We think that collecting evidence from end-users and copy pasting screenshots of test results into Excel worksheet is very time-consuming. That is why we highly recommend you choose the right tool for your team during scoping phase, in order to make sure necessary data is collected, visualized and made sharable to accurately tracking improvements made after UAT. At SHIFT ASIA, our testers use our own management tool to visualize that data that speeds up team collaboration.

Hope this article helps and for inquiries, please contact