Imagine you’re an overworked Quality Assurance (QA) engineer who’s just barely completed successful smoke tests and other manual testing in time for a deadline. Upon reporting your success, the product owner asks what your plans are for user acceptance testing. [Insert freeze frame and record scratch here.]
Your head starts to spin—you’ve never had to do user acceptance testing before. You need a way to make it as painless as possible, ensuring that you still have time to manage your other duties. I’ve got good news, this ultimate guide is now your new best friend.
In this guide, we’ve compiled everything you need to know to run an effective user acceptance test as painlessly as possible. With details, comparisons, how-tos, and best practices, you’ll be confident that you have the tools for stellar user tests to help deliver a five-star product to your customers.
User acceptance testing is the process of putting your software into the hands of real users to ensure it works well for different people in different environments. UAT is sometimes known as alpha, beta, field, or proof of concept testing.
The purpose of user acceptance testing is to get the product out into the wild in real environments and tested by real people. During this testing, issues and improvements are identified in order to optimize the software’s quality before its release to a larger audience.
Ideally, UAT is conducted at various points in software development once there is a product available to test, but it’s most commonly done during the Test phase just before the product is launched. Alternatively, UAT may happen once the software has passed a handful of critical tests by quality assurance (QA) to confirm the software works in a variety of environments.
After UAT is completed, the development team will review the results and determine if the product or software is ready for launch.
Like all software testing methodologies, user acceptance testing has a structured approach with a handful of stages designed to facilitate a successful validation of the product in question.
This is where the scope and objectives of the test are established, the UAT stakeholders are identified, testing criteria are defined, and the test environment is determined. The UAT team also creates the test plan, which outlines the test cases, testing approach, and methodology.
In this stage, the UAT team recruits the testers who will be responsible for conducting the user acceptance testing. Testers for UAT may be internal employees or external users who represent the target audience for the software.
In the execution stage, the UAT team ensures testers complete the test cases and scenarios developed in the Planning and Design stage. The UAT team collects feedback and test data, triages and responds to issues and other feedback, and determines whether the software meets the business requirements identified during product design.
In the closure stage, the stakeholders review the UAT results and provide sign-off on the software. This indicates that they agree that the software meets the business requirements. The UAT team also prepares the final report, which summarizes the testing results and identifies any issues or areas for improvement.
Understanding how to do user acceptance testing can be the difference between a successful product launch and a missed opportunity. A study showed that 57% of those performing user tests have no defined processes for their efforts, meaning that they’re re-inventing the wheel each time they launch a new product.
The process outlined below, when done correctly, can efficiently uncover invaluable insights, helping you tailor your product to meet users' needs and expectations. This step-by-step guide underscores the importance of a well-structured process in conducting successful user acceptance testing. It's not just about execution, but how each step contributes to an informed, user-driven product development journey
In software testing, everything starts with a plan. This involves identifying your testing objectives, selecting the appropriate test cases and scenarios, and defining your testing criteria. You should also determine the resources you'll need for testing, such as tools and equipment.
Need a user acceptance test plan template? Download this free resource.
Begin your planning with the end in mind. Ask yourself or your stakeholders, what are we attempting to achieve with this test? There are several different objectives to consider when planning out your test, including (but not limited to):
With your test objectives determined, the testing methods necessary to meet those goals become more apparent. Each objective requires a unique approach to testing that may or may not conflict with other goals and their methods. For example, evaluating ease-of-use and intuitiveness would utilize usability-focused testing with testers completing common tasks and providing feedback on their experience.
Evaluating software ease-of-use and how well it meets users’ needs.
Testers perform common tasks and evaluate the ease-of-use and intuitiveness of the software.
Assessing software performance under varied conditions
Testers simulate different scenarios and evaluate the performance of the software under each scenario.
Ensuring software performs intended functions as designed.
Testers test specific features and functions of the software to ensure that they work as expected.
Confirming software works across devices and platforms
Testers test the software on different devices and platforms and report any issues or compatibility problems.
Identifying and mitigating potential software vulnerabilities
Testers attempt to hack into the software or exploit any security vulnerabilities to identify areas for improvement.
Ensuring software functions correctly in diverse cultures
Testers test the software in different languages and regions and report any issues or localization problems.
One of the key questions to consider when planning your UAT is: “how long should my UAT take to complete?”. Commonly, the Execution stage lasts between 3-6 weeks. But, this will vary depending on the complexity of your software, the established testing objectives, the number of features being tested, and the size of your testing team. A duration of 3-6 weeks allows adequate time to get feedback and make product improvements before entering another phase of testing or heading to market.
Want to see a testing industry report? Download the free 2022 report.
Testing criteria are the standards or benchmarks that are used to evaluate the success of the testing. These criteria may include metrics such as the number of defects or bugs identified, the percentage of test cases passed, or the time it takes to complete testing. Testing criteria should be specific, measurable, and relevant to the objectives of the test.
Need a benchmark and evaluation template? Download it for free.
Research industry standards:
Start by researching industry standards and best practices related to the software or product you are testing. This will give you a good idea of what benchmarks and criteria you should be aiming for.
Consult with stakeholders:
Speak with stakeholders, including end-users, product owners, and other members of the development team, to determine what criteria are most important for the software.
Review previous versions or other similar products at your company:
Looking at UAT projects that have been done in the past is a great way to see what was accomplished and how your project can measure comparatively.
Metrics such as task completion rates, user satisfaction scores, and usability scores
Metrics like bug detection rates, defect density, and code coverage
Metrics can include response times, throughput rates, and error rates, as well as comparisons against similar software products
Metrics such as issues found or the percentage of features that work on different platforms like browsers or devices
Appropriate UAT test cases and scenarios are those that accurately represent the user requirements and objectives for the software being tested. User acceptance testing test cases should be specific and measurable, and should be designed to test a specific aspect of the software's functionality or performance. Scenarios should be designed to simulate real-world scenarios that users might encounter when using the software.
Here are some simple steps to create UAT test cases and scenarios:
Begin by identifying the specific features that need to be tested. This will help you to focus your testing efforts and ensure that you are testing the most critical aspects of the software.
Need a user acceptance test case template? Download this test case template for free.
Create a set of test cases for each feature that you want to test. Each test case should be specific and include the broad steps that the tester needs to take to test the feature. It should also include the expected result of the test.
To ensure that your test cases and scenarios are specific and measurable, make sure that each test case has clear pass/fail criteria. This will help you to evaluate the success of your testing efforts and identify any areas that need improvement.
To identify appropriate test cases and scenarios, you should review the user requirements and objectives for the software and determine which areas are most critical for testing. You can then develop test cases and scenarios that are specific to each objective, and accurately represent the user requirements and test goals. You should also ensure that the test cases and scenarios cover all aspects of the software's functionality and performance.
The purpose of a UAT tester sign-up page is to recruit testers who can provide feedback on the software being tested. The page provides information about the software, including its purpose, features, and benefits. It also provides instructions for how to sign up to be a tester and what is expected of testers during the testing process. The sign-up page collects information from the testers, such as their name, email address, and any other relevant details and experience, to help ensure that testers are qualified to provide feedback on the product.
Need a UAT signup page checklist? Download it for free.
Need a template for outlining your sign-up page? Check out this Tester Recruitment Kit.
To conduct effective UAT, you need qualified testers who can provide valuable feedback on your software. However, finding the right testers can be a challenge, especially if you're not sure where to start. In this section, we'll explore some strategies for finding UAT testers, from reaching out to your user base to using social media platforms and online communities.
This range could work if resources are limited for managing the UAT or if it's a niche product with a small user base. Feedback should be easier to manage and provide an initial scope of issues and ideas.
This range should provide a broader set of feedback and could be suitable for most general products. It provides a balance between the amount of feedback and the resources required to manage the testers.
This range could be suitable for products with a large user base or when you want a wide range of feedback. It will require more resources to manage due to the volume of feedback and amount of testers involved.
Do you need to find out how many testers you need? Check out this free calculator.
If you already have a user base for your software, consider reaching out to them to see if anyone is interested in participating in user acceptance testing—their familiarity with your software may help them provide valuable feedback during testing.
Optimize your sign-up page for search engines by including relevant keywords and meta descriptions. This can help potential testers find your sign-up page when searching for related keywords.
Promote your UAT project through social media channels and encourage potential testers to sign up. You can also join relevant groups or communities where your ideal testers may be active and engage with them directly.
Participate in online forums or communities related to your software's niche or industry. This can help you connect with potential testers who are interested in your software.
Encourage your existing testers to spread the word about your test and ask for referrals from their network. This can help you reach new potential testers who may not have heard about your user acceptance test otherwise.
Betabound.com is a platform that connects software companies (and others) with beta testers. You can use this site to find and recruit qualified testers for your UAT.
Onboarding testers into a user acceptance test involves educating them on the overall testing process, setting expectations for their participation in the UAT, and providing them with the necessary information to effectively test the product.
Provide clear instructions for how to access the software being tested, how to use the testing environment, and how to report any issues or bugs that they encounter during testing. Be sure to also explain the timeline and expectations for the testing process, including when feedback is needed and how frequently they should provide updates
Provide testers with access to resources for the hardware, software, and testing tools required for the testing process. This may include user manuals, set-up guides, and known issues.
Ask testers to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to ensure that they keep any confidential information they may come across during testing private. You may also want to have them sign a testing agreement that outlines the terms and expectations of their participation in the UAT.
Provide testers with clear guidelines on how to provide feedback and what to test. This may include a template for reporting issues or a checklist of features and functions that need to be tested. You can also provide them with a resource that outlines what to expect in the upcoming weeks and how to provide feedback effectively.
Before testing can begin, you'll need to distribute the software to your testers. This may involve providing a download link, sending an email with installation instructions, or providing access to a cloud-based testing environment.
Once your testers have access to the software, you’ll need to communicate the test cases and scenarios to them so that they understand what needs to be tested and how to test it. Below are some ways to effectively communicate these required activities to testers:
One of the key goals of UAT is to gather feedback from users to improve the software. It's crucial to have a structure in place to collect great feedback.
Need a UAT feedback form template? Download them now for free.
Provide testers with feedback forms where they can report issues, suggest ideas, and give praise for the software. These forms should be easy to access and use, and should include fields for testers to provide specific details about the issue or idea they're reporting.
According to our research on 2022 tests, issues comprised an average of 41% of the total feedback gathered, followed by 30% for praise and 29% for ideas.
Without dedicated feedback forms, parsing issues, ideas, and praise from a single feedback channel requires dedicated time and effort that's better spent helping to improve the software.
Survey questions can be used to gather specific feedback about the software and the testing process. It's a good idea to ask UAT survey questions both during the test and at the end of testing. This will help to identify any issues or areas for improvement early on, as well as provide an overall assessment of the testing process.
Do you want free UAT survey templates? Download them here.
Managing user feedback during the Execution stage of the UAT process is critical for assessing whether the software meets the user's needs and expectations. But, feedback management isn’t just reading through a queue of feedback tickets, it involves triaging each piece of feedback, responding to testers, and making necessary development changes based on the feedback received.
Triaging feedback means prioritizing the feedback based on its impact on the software's functionality and the severity of the issue. This helps to focus resources on fixing critical issues that may be hindering the user's experience and impacting the overall quality.
Responding to feedback is equally important as it shows the tester that their feedback is being heard and addressed which builds trust and fosters a positive relationship.
The end goal of feedback management is to ensure that each piece of feedback has been properly reviewed and prioritized based on its impact on the product experience.
Last, but not least, is reviewing the results of the UAT. The results review is a combination of analyzing tester feedback, test case outcomes, and any survey data gathered to evaluate whether the software achieves the testing objective(s) and meets the desired level of quality. The team can quickly assess which components of the software might need the most work by examining the overall pass/fail rates for each of the test cases. This review is key to ensuring that any issues or bugs are identified and addressed before the software is released to the public.
So, why do user acceptance testing? Well, testing with end-users not only satisfies the need for peace of mind, but also ensures that the software meets the needs and requirements of your market and business.
Without this testing to scrub out quality issues and identify poor experiences, your product might cause user frustration and dissatisfaction, which contributes to low adoption rates, negative reviews, and yes, loss of revenue. Thankfully, the numerous benefits of user acceptance testing make it a no-brainer.
Gaining the peace of mind that the product you’ve been working on meets users’ needs and expectations can remove uncertainty and build confidence in the product launch at all levels.
By completing UAT with a larger, more diverse group of external users, we can augment Quality Assurance’s efforts to ensure the software’s quality is top-notch before launch.
By reviewing test cases with high fail rates and problems that aren't necessarily bugs or defects, opportunities arise to improve usability and the overall user experience based on end-user behavior.
Through ideas and other feedback delivered from user acceptance testers, we can build a roadmap that’s tailored to introducing the features and functionality users want most.
Assuming the identified defects and bugs are addressed, the software’s overall quality will be higher, laying the foundation for increased user adoption early on in the product’s lifecycle.
Based on the submitted feedback during UAT, the Quality Assurance team can review their test scripts and automation for misses to ensure that future testing is more comprehensive and efficient.
While user acceptance testing is a necessary and beneficial tool in product development, it can present some challenges which can be difficult to overcome. However, knowing about these challenges ahead of time means that you can create contingency plans should you encounter one.
With over two decades dedicated to user testing, we’ve seen plenty of triumphs and slip-ups in every area of UAT. To help you achieve your goals, we’re sharing our best practices to help ensure that your UAT process is thorough, consistent, and provides reliable feedback that can be used to improve software and help launch amazing products.
Begin planning for UAT as early as possible to allow enough time for the process to be carried out thoroughly. This includes identifying test objectives, creating test cases, and identifying potential testers. You’ll also have an opportunity to anticipate any potential hurdles to clear before they become a problem.
Without testers you have nothing, but with the wrong testers, you could be making product decisions based on the wrong data. Ensure that the testers selected for UAT are qualified and representative of the intended end-users of the software. This helps ensure that the feedback and test data are valuable and relevant.
Develop detailed test cases and scenarios that cover all aspects of the software that need to be tested. This includes both positive and negative test cases.
Clearly define the objectives of your UAT, including what needs to be tested, who will be testing, and how the feedback will be used to improve the software. Make sure all stakeholders are aligned with the set goals.
You can’t expect testers to read your mind and know what to do in your UAT without providing some guidance and education. Provide adequate training and support to the testers to ensure that they are familiar with the testing process and tools. It helps to use a centralized tool to make feedback forms, product resources, and support easy to access.
Tester feedback comes in many forms, including both quantitative and qualitative data. In order to be comprehensive, use a variety of methods, such as surveys, interviews, and observation, in addition to traditional feedback forms for collecting tester feedback and data. This approach will help build a holistic picture of your product’s quality and launch-readiness.
Not all feedback is created equal, some is more critical or valuable than others. Prioritizing the feedback you receive in your UAT will help you increase your efficiency and ensure that the development teams focus on the most pressing issues first. Triaging and analyzing each piece of feedback based on severity and impact on the software and user experience will help identify where to start.
Develop a close working relationship with the development team. By bringing the dev team closer to the UAT process and inviting collaboration, you’ll be able to address the issues identified during UAT and make changes to the software in a more agile fashion. A positive relationship also means that the development team will be more likely to listen to your perspective and analysis throughout testing.
If you fix a sprinkler in your yard, do you put your tools away and call it a day without first turning on the water to see that it actually works again? Probably not. After changes or updates have been made to the software, ensure that you retest to confirm that the issues indicated have been resolved and the software meets the intended objectives.
Although agile has smaller windows, sprints still allocate time to testing. The product owner and UAT team collaborate to determine what features will be tested during each sprint, and the users provide feedback on each feature before it is released.
A UAT tool is software that is specifically designed to help manage and automate the user acceptance testing process. It’s used to improve the efficiency and accuracy of the testing process, as well as to increase collaboration among testers and stakeholders.
UAT tools are important because they can help ensure that the testing process is more organized and efficient, resulting in more effective tests and better results. They can also provide a centralized location for storing and managing test cases, test results, and other testing-related information.
Ultimately, tools like these can act as significant game changers, saving time and minimizing the risk of human error by automating several tasks. These tools enhance productivity, help ensure consistent quality, and provide an overview of progress. In turn, this allows your team to focus on more critical aspects of the project, helping to foster innovation, and drive business growth.
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User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is more than a phase in the software development cycle; it's a vital bridge that connects the developers' vision and the end-users' expectations.
Well-planned and executed UAT brings confidence in the product's quality and functionality, as well as assurance that it delivers a high-quality user experience. More than just a safety net, the feedback from UAT acts as a compass, guiding product development to align more closely with user expectations.
As technology evolves, products become more and more technical with each passing day, so the importance of UAT will remain unabated in the long-term. Whether you're working on a groundbreaking digital platform, launching a new connected product, or iterating an existing software solution, adhering to the principles of UAT can significantly bolster your product's chances of success.