Acceptance Testing: A Step-By-Step Guide

August 15, 2023

Acceptance testing is a testing technique performed to determine whether or not the software system has met the required specifications. Click now to read.

Acceptance testing is a testing technique performed to determine whether or not the software system has met the required specifications. Click now to read.

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 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 testing stage, so your product will already have been tested for bugs. You need to check if the product delivers what it was designed to do. Your client or end-users should be doing your UAT.

These are the acceptance testing types:

  • User Acceptance Testing (UAT): This involves verifying the user’s requirements have been met.
  • Business Acceptance Testing (BAT): Here, you assess 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.
  • Operational Acceptance Testing (OAT): This type of test is known as Operational Readiness Testing or Production Acceptance Testing. It aims to ensure 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 will be released.
  • Alpha Testing: This is the last set of internally conducted tests 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 occurs 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.

Why is acceptance testing so important?

The best way to answer that question is with an example. Let’s look at developing an app used for plant identification. Your developers can write sophisticated code that uses image recognition and machine learning to identify a plant. It will most likely extract the unique features that allow it to narrow in on the correct genus and species. However, your developers and testers are not botanists; they have likely used a library of plant images to develop the application. To evaluate the software’s accuracy, 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 application’s usability. This will save you much time and money compared to releasing a product with issues. If you skip UAT, it will cost you far more to rectify any problems after release.

What are the Uses of Acceptance Testing

  • Finding the defects missed during the functional testing phase.
  • How sufficiently the product is developed.
  • The result is what the customers need.
  • Feedback to improve product performance and user experience.
  • Minimize or eliminate the issues arising from production.

Advantages of Acceptance Testing

This testing helps the project team in the following ways:

  • Knowing the further requirements of the users directly as it involves the users for testing.
  • Execution of Automated tests.
  • It brings confidence and satisfaction to the clients as they are directly involved in the testing process.
  • It is easier for the user to describe their requirement.
  • It covers only the Black-Box testing process; hence, you can test the product’s full functionality.

Disadvantages of Acceptance Testing

  • Users should at least have basic knowledge about the product or application.
  • Also, sometimes users don’t want to participate in the testing process.
  • The feedback for the testing takes a long time as it involves many users, and the opinions may differ from one user to another user.
  • The development team does not participate in this testing process.

How to carry out acceptance testing

Many studies and guides focus 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 expectations Your product/development team and testing participants need to know the value of the testing feedback and their participation. Everyone involved must understand what you aim to get from the test.
  • Select the right participants Whenever possible, use regular test participants you collaborate with regularly. 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 need to be representative of real users. Launching a beta version of your product and recruiting existing customers to test it is an excellent approach. This is ideal as real-world users operate the software in a real environment.
  • Creating test assignments Since you want to test every part of the software, you must make 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 must write instructions in everyday language.
  • What results to look for Your 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 do they cause issues with the users’ ability to navigate the application?
  • Clarify the feedback You need to understand the feedback you receive from testers thoroughly. Again, your participants will likely 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.

Acceptance Criteria

You can define acceptance criteria based on the following attributes:

  • Usability
  • Performance
  • Functional Correctness and Completeness
  • Data Integrity
  • Data Conversion
  • Timeliness
  • Confidentiality and Availability
  • Installability and Upgradability
  • Scalability
  • Documentation

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. It would be best to avoid users who aren’t interested in your application.
  • Lack of test planning: Provide your users with guidelines so the application is thoroughly tested.
  • Not enough data: You need to support your participants as much as possible. Allow your participants to use live data to get the most out of your user acceptance tests. This will ensure the experience is as close to using the live product.
  • Avoiding negative results: Often, tests are designed to look for positive results. Consider including environments where the product will 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:

  • Determining your timeframe
  • Agreeing on test criteria
  • Providing the correct documentation
  • Understanding what the severe and priority defects are. 

Teamwork with your product owners, project managers, and the client is the best way to solve these. You need to ensure everyone understands the importance of UAT, and they also have to buy into doing it correctly 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.

About the author

author photo: Tamas Cser

Tamas Cser


Tamas Cser is the founder, CTO, and Chief Evangelist at Functionize, the leading provider of AI-powered test automation. With over 15 years in the software industry, he launched Functionize after experiencing the painstaking bottlenecks with software testing at his previous consulting company. Tamas is a former child violin prodigy turned AI-powered software testing guru. He grew up under a communist regime in Hungary, and after studying the violin at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, toured the world playing violin. He was bitten by the tech bug and decided to shift his talents to coding, eventually starting a consulting company before Functionize. Tamas and his family live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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