This blog post will highlight an important testing practice called User Acceptance Testing and the UAT test plan as part of our series on testing principles and fundamentals.

User Acceptance Testing, often known as UAT Testing, is an essential component of all software testing, regardless of technique. Regardless of whether you use Agile development approaches or Waterfall, any software product you create must go through User Acceptance.

By definition, user acceptance testing (UAT) occurs when a user agrees that the product fits the product’s needs and design criteria. As a result, UAT is performed after all development and functional testing (read System Testing) has been completed, and shortly before the product is released or implemented. I’m sure you’re aware of everything.

UAT is so critical to a product’s performance after launch that it has its own Software Development Lifecycle phase. User Acceptance Testing is a different branch of Software Testing that is dedicated to it. There are also distinct skill sets and career paths for UAT that allow testers and test managers to specialize in this field.

“When you try your best to prepare ahead and plan effectively, it is feasible to get UAT right.”

Given its importance at this point in the project delivery cycle, it’s vital that you obtain all the help you need to design and execute UAT properly. And with almost no snafus or problems.

When you do your best to prepare ahead and plan correctly, it is feasible to get UAT right. How successfully your UAT test plan is received, accepted, and authorized is a genuine measure of your efforts to adequately prepare for the key UAT part of your projects. The strategy’s success is directly proportional to the success of your team’s testing efforts – after all, they’ll be following the plan (more or less).

As a result, in this piece, we’ll go over how to create a rock-solid UAT test plan.

You’ll learn everything you need to know to prepare for your UAT test. We’ll also go through how to make the most of your time while creating your UAT test strategy.

What is User Acceptance Testing?

To the layman, UAT is effectively the last line of defense in terms of catching any unsavory problems before to a product’s delivery to customers. The assumption is that you won’t be able to fix any obvious flaws in your product beyond this point in the project.

The point at which the ‘user’ acknowledges the product as fulfilling all requirements is also known as UAT. The term “user” refers to the people who ordered the product in the first place.

These could be persons who use the product themselves or who expect their customers to utilize it.

As an example,

  • Users are employees from the bank’s many offices who will use the staff front end on a daily basis if you’re constructing a staff facing front end for a core banking system.
  • Users are the business proposal team who have requested the functionality supplied by the app if you’re constructing a customer-facing mobile app for a retail bank. They, in turn, have documented their requirements based on encounters with customers or market input.
UAT Test Plan:

Now that we know who the users are, UAT refers to the cycle of testing that users traditionally complete to ensure that the product performs as expected and meets all of the requirements they provided at the start of the project.

The real testing can be carried out entirely by the users. This would necessitate the sponsoring user team allocating a specified quantity of dedicated resources.

This isn’t always doable, though. You may not always have enough user time to perform a thorough UAT cycle for a variety of reasons. As a result, it’s becoming more typical for users to choose a dedicated team of testers to whom they outsource UAT testing.

The key distinction here is that users nowadays outsource UAT execution rather than the decision-making that goes along with it. They employ a responsible UAT manager who collaborates with the project team to develop a UAT test plan and hires a team of skilled testers to carry out the test cases.

As a result, it’s feasible that users delegate responsibility for UAT planning and execution to a dedicated testing team. Users are still in charge of signing off on products that have passed UAT. That is, they must be able to express complete confidence in the product’s ability to meet all of the product’s original requirements before it is approved for distribution.

How UAT is planned and implemented varies depending on the software development technique used – Waterfall, Agile, or something in between. Regardless of how you include UAT into your delivery, the substance of what it symbolizes and the goals it seeks to achieve remain the same.

Let’s take a look at the major enablers for creating a successful UAT test strategy…

In agile, this is how it works…

Key enablers for building a rock solid UAT test plan:
Signed off (or approved) requirements

Yup – I know the Agile advocates among you are cringing at this headline. Doesn’t signed off represent Waterfall ways of working? Agile represents fluid project scope and requirements, right?

Not so much. Let me explain.

If you’re working on a Waterfall project (which I don’t suggest in today’s ever-changing Digital landscape, but to each his own), it’s true that you’ll have a list of “certain” (notice the quotes) and signed-off requirements before you begin development. As a result, employing these signed off requirements to design and execute UAT is simple and reasonable.

On Agile projects, things can get a bit convoluted.

Do you have development sprints in your Agile project, but separate test cycles to help polish the product before release? I can tell you that 60 to 80 percent of all Agile projects perform some level of dedicated System Testing and User Acceptance Testing cycles to catch the unsightly issues that need to be caught before releasing the product to users, based on my experience.

Why is this required? Because while you’re working in Sprints, you don’t have the time to make sure your product is perfect. Sprints are largely focused on building the essential product features as rapidly as possible to get these correct before thinking about release quality, especially if it is new product development.

As a result, a significant amount of testing is frequently delegated to pre-release preparation so that the Scrum team may work on the 80 percent (of the famous 80-20 rule) first. And no matter how you dress it up – call it a Sprint, a dedicated Test Cycle, just ‘Testing,’ or separate System Testing from User Acceptance, utilize real users or delegate testers – UAT is required at the end of the process.

“When your testers and developers are debating the validity of a defect, there can be no ambiguity about ‘what is the requirement?’”

So, returning to the topic regarding signed off or approved needs, you can create a repository of signed off requirements even on Agile projects. When a user story is incorporated into a sprint for delivery, that narrative is effectively signed off. The Product Owner has submitted their Sprint needs in the form of a “narrative” and “approval criteria.” To track delivery, these requirements are kept centrally (insert your favorite Agile Requirements management application).

These are your requirements that have been signed off on and approved.

What is the significance of sign-off or approval? Acceptance by the users Testing basically ensures that the product fits the needs of people who paid to have it developed. You obtain a tangible set of base requirements to compare and evaluate the product against when the people who pay express their requirements explicitly and are willing to approve or sign off.

As a result, having signed off requirements will assist you in developing a strategy to achieve those specific requirements. When your testers and developers are debating the legitimacy of a defect, there can be no ambiguity about “what is the requirement?”

Bringing it all together

There may be other equally significant enablers out there, some of which may be unique to your project or organization. The goal of this exercise is to provide you with a starting point from which you can design a successful UAT test plan.

So go ahead and start creating your rock-solid UAT test plan right now. Remember, the better prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed.

Would you like to contribute any other information that may aid in the development of a robust UAT test plan? Let’s have a good debate in the comments section below.

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