If you want to run a solid user acceptance test, you need a solid plan — but since you’re reading this, you probably knew that already. With so much at stake, planning ain’t easy; there are schedules to build, people to recruit, stakeholders to work with, feedback to sort. We created this user acceptance testing checklist to help you navigate all the moving pieces and get you testing like a pro.
But First: The Goal of User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
The goal of UAT is to determine whether or not your product is ready for the real world. By testing with end-users in their actual homes, offices, and other live environments, it’s your last chance to iron out any functionality or usability issues before release. And since the days of launch-it-and-forget-it are long behind us (Adios, Waterfall. Helloooo, Agile!), these customer-driven insights also feed future product iterations.
What Goes Into a User Acceptance Testing Checklist?
To successfully test your product (and stay organized through the whole process), your user acceptance testing checklist should cover the following key topics:
- Product Readiness
- Tester Readiness
- Team Readiness
Let’s look at each topic in a little more detail.
Before you start reaching out to testers and spinning up a project, you need to make sure your product is ready for user acceptance testing. In theory, if you’re nearing the point in development where you’re reading about how to start user acceptance testing, this should be a given. But in actuality, delays in engineering or manufacturing mean that may not always be the case.
A test-ready product is stable and near feature complete. It should be functional — your testers shouldn’t be so distracted with reporting unknown issues that you don’t get a true sense of how your product will perform with your larger audience.
Your User Acceptance Testing Checklist for Product Readiness
- Verify with your engineering team that all components of the product are test-ready
- Verify with your product management team that all key features are working
- Check that all the auxiliary components you need for testing (product documentation, test instructions, etc.) have been created
- Assemble all your auxiliary components into a single package for your testers
- Review the out-of-the-box experience, including setup, installation, and documentation
- Document any known issues that could not be addressed before testing, in case they come up and need to be communicated to your tester team
- Verify the uninstall or product return process (if applicable)
You can’t test your product in the real-world without (surprise!) a team of real-world testers. But not just any person will do: you need end-users who both represent your target market and are excited to help you improve your product. You should also be aware of any technical, demographic, and knowledge requirements your testers will need to successfully test each topic. (If you don’t know where to begin, start with this free Recruitment Kit.)
Once your tester team is waiting in the wings, give them a rough outline of your test schedule (even if it’s subject to change) and let them know what’s expected of them. These two simple moves will greatly improve engagement later on.
Your User Acceptance Testing Checklist for Tester Readiness
- Make sure you’ve got enough testers in each segment of your market
- Notify selected testers that they’re on the team
- Verify contact information (and shipping address if you’re testing a hardware product)
- Get all non-disclosure and test participation agreements signed and returned
- Communicate the project schedule and tester responsibilities to the tester team
- Give testers a rundown of the systems they’ll be using to provide feedback (and if they aren’t dead simple, you’ll want to provide some documentation or training)
- Make sure your testers have readily accessible, easy-to-understand resources for carrying out their responsibilities
Like the process of developing a product, 99.9% of user acceptance tests have dependencies on other teams. Everyone has to do their part to succeed, which is why it’s important to bring your stakeholders to the table early and keep them involved throughout the project.
To make sure everyone’s up-to-date on the plan and prepared to take action, you have to identify and educate your stakeholders on the plan, procedures, and everyone’s responsibilities. (Luckily, you’re working on this nifty user acceptance testing checklist that you can later use as a guide to keep everyone in sync.)
Your User Acceptance Testing Checklist for Team Readiness
- Identify the features or experiences that will be tested during your project and verify them with your stakeholders
- Write out your task scenarios, including a quick description and the activities necessary to test each feature or experience
- Make sure you have defined processes for test goals, feedback collection, product distribution, and incentives
- Define your project schedule, taking your goals, recruitment needs, and logistics into account
- Communicate important milestones and deadlines to your stakeholders and contributors
- Make sure your stakeholders have handed off all the deliverables (tools, documentation, surveys, packaging, product keys, NDAs, beta units, etc.)
- Create a contingency plan and/or chain of command in the event of vacation, paternity leave, etc.
- Set up and test your project space, feedback channels, issue tracking, content delivery, and servers ahead of the testing period
Check, Check, and Check
If you’ve crossed off everything on your user acceptance testing checklist, your product, testers, and team should be ready to go! But there are still many more secrets to unlock for running a successful pre-release test. Whether you call it user acceptance testing, beta, or field, take your knowledge to the next level with the in-depth best practices and the fill-in-the-blank template included with this free Planning Kit.