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Acceptance testing: What is it and how can you adopt it?

Whenever you build a product for customers or end-users, you must run tests to ensure it meets quality and safety standards. User acceptance testing, or UAT, takes testing one step further. With UAT, the aim is to test whether your new product actually delivers value for its users. We have compiled a thorough guide on UAT, including the best practices and key considerations as you perform UAT.

What is user acceptance testing?

UAT is a process that tests the usability of a product from the point of view of the consumer or the user. It is the final stage of testing, so your product will already have been tested for bugs. You now need to check if the product delivers what it was designed to do. Your client or end-users should be doing your UAT.

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There are various forms of acceptance testing:

  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT): This involves verifying if the user’s specific requirements have been met.
  • Business Acceptance Testing (BAT): Here you are assessing whether the product meets the business goals set out in the design.
  • Contract Acceptance Testing (CAT): These tests happen once a product goes live. In essence, the acceptance tests must all pass within a given period of time.
  • Operational Acceptance Testing (OAT): This type of test is also known as Operational Readiness Testing or Production Acceptance Testing. It aims to ensure that there is a proper workflow (backup plans, maintenance guide, and training) for the software.
  • Regulatory/Compliance Acceptance Testing (RAT): You use this to verify whether the product complies with all rules and regulations in any country where it is to be released.
  • Alpha Testing: This is the last set of tests conducted internally before you pass the product for UAT. It is the last opportunity to make product changes and the aim is to release a bug-free piece of software.
  • Beta Testing: This form of acceptance testing is done by real users. It takes place at the customer’s premises or the end user’s site. The aim is to ensure the product behaves as expected and to catch any last bugs before release.

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Why is acceptance testing so important?

The best wat to answer that question is with an example. Let’s look at developing an app used for plant identification. There’s no question your developers can write sophisticated code that usea image recognition and machine learning to identify a plant. Most likely, it will extract the unique features that allow it to narrow in on the correct genus and species. However, your developers and testers are not botanists. The chances are, they have used a library of plant images to develop the application. To really evaluate the accuracy of the software, you need a botanist to test it in the field.

During a user acceptance test, you will receive invaluable feedback on any critical issues with the usability of the application. This will save you a lot of time and money compared to releasing a product with issues. It will cost you far more to rectify any issues after release if you skip UAT.

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How to carry out acceptance testing

You can find many studies and guides focused on the techniques and operating frameworks for user acceptance testing. One very detailed review can be found in the International Journal on Recent Innovation Trends in Computing and Communication.

Your user acceptance testing should follow these guidelines:

  • Define your expectationsYour product/development team and testing participants need to know the value of the testing feedback and their participation. Everyone involved has to understand what you aim to get out of the test.
  • Select the right participantsWhenever possible, use regular test participants that you collaborate with on a regular basis. This helps you to develop a strong relationship and get more honest feedback. Professional software testers are readily available, but as this is their primary job, they are not representative of real users. An excellent approach is to launch a beta version of your product and recruit existing customers to test it. This is ideal as these are real-world users operating the software in a real environment.
  • Creating test assignmentsSince you want to test every part of the software, you need to create specific test assignments. These test plans should be based on real user journey interactions. Remember that your users are not developers or business people, so you need to write instructions in everyday language.
  • What results to look forYour UAT testing should focus on functional and/or UI/UX issues. Are all app buttons, drop-downs, and sliders working correctly? Are there overlapping elements preventing scroll? Do all CSS styles render correctly, or cause issues with the users’ ability to navigate the application?
  • Clarify the feedbackYou need to thoroughly understand the feedback that you receive from testers. Again, it is likely your participants will use non-technical language in their feedback. You can find numerous templates to assist you in creating a UAT feedback form. Here is a list of the top 20 for this year.

Common mistakes you need to avoid during user acceptance testing

If you are new to UAT, it is normal to make mistakes. So, here are some common mistakes that are easy to avoid:

  • Incorrect users: You must choose the right participants for your UAT. It is worth taking the time to find suitable testers. You need to avoid users that aren’t actually interested in your application.
  • Lack of test planning: Provide your users with a set of guidelines so the application is fully tested.
  • Not enough data: You need to support your participants as much as possible. Allow your participants to use live data, so they get the most out of your user acceptance tests. This will ensure the experience is as close to using the live product as possible.
  • Avoiding negative results: Quite often, tests are designed to look for positive results. You should include environments in which the product will more likely fail to get more realistic feedback.

Common challenges of user acceptance testing

There are many challenges you will hit when you start doing UAT. Firstly, determining your timeframe. Secondly, agreeing on test criteria. Thirdly, providing the correct documentation. And finally, understanding what the severe and priority defects are. The best way to solve these is teamwork with your product owners, project managers, and the client. You need to ensure everyone understands the importance of UAT. They also have to buy in to doing it properly and not look to cut corners.

In conclusion

There’s no question that UAT is vital to ensure the stability and functionality of any software release. Effective UAT methodologies will save your organization time and money, and reduce churn by preventing bugs or usability issues.