User Acceptance Testing: Best Practices & Methodology

Instructor: Temitayo Odugbesan

Temitayo has 11+ years Industrial Experience in Information Technology and has a master's degree in Computer Science.

In this lesson, we will be looking at what User Acceptance Testing is all about, why it is so important that it is carried out, and best practices & methodology to apply when implementing.

User Acceptance Testing Definition

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is a form of design usability testing used after design completion with the intention to validate the business requirements captured during design initiation and planning. The aim is not to debug the design but rather ensure that it meets the requirements for which it was designed.

Processes Preceding UAT Initiation

Oyarifa Brokers is a stock brokerage firm. Having been in operation for years, they contracted out their IT infrastructure needs to another software solutions provider, Mabinty Solutions.

Mabinty Solutions was mandated to provide an automated trading platform to replace the current one in use. This was in response to the complaints (it was also a probable cause of their dwindling fortune) received from clients stating their inability to carry out successful transactions on the platform.

It swung quickly into action, dispatching a team of business analysts and a project manager to help kick-start the project. Their initial task includes, but is not limited to, business requirements elicitation, analysis and gathering. This was to enable the team get a grasp of the business processes and requirements expected of the new platform. This will be captured in the User & Software Requirement Specification documents to be released by the team and forms the basis for the development of a new platform.

Oyarifa Brokers' management signed off on the agreed timeline for work completion and terms of product delivery.

In the terms of delivery, it was agreed that the finished product would be subject to a UAT validating that the product met the business requirements and satisfies the organizational objects of Oyarifa Brokers. In the event it deviates, Mabinty Solutions would be required to fix it.

Best Practices and Methodology

In order to ensure a successful product delivery, Oyarifa Brokers engaged the services of a software project management and quality assurance firm, Koroma & Bangura Associates (K&B), to help manage its project with Mabinty Solutions.

K&B drew up a project plan to guide all parties involved throughout the various stages of the design life-cycle and also ensured that iterative tests were carried out often to help point out deviations early enough to be fixed.

The plan also highlighted action items or activities to be carried out prior to and during the UAT phase of the project, a best practice and methodology checklist, which includes, but is not limited to the following: -

Knowing What to Test

Knowing what to test during a UAT is critical. Without it, the testing is as good as not having been carried out at all.

Prior to the scheduled day, K&B did a run through of the business requirements and together with selected staff of Oyarifa Brokers, embarked on a paper walk-through of the new platform reviewing features of utmost interest.

Design Effective Test Cases

Once a list of features to be tested has been made, the next step would be to draw up a list of test case scenarios and how it should be tested, for example, as an untrained user of the platform to help ascertain the platform's intuitiveness in real-life use.

Expected Outcomes of Testing

The expected outcome of each feature being tested must be known and documented prior to the UAT. This forms the basis of the key metrics measuring the adherence or deviance from the business requirement noted with the steps taken to achieve it.

The table below shows a feature under UAT using expected outcomes and actual outcomes.

Scenario Test Steps Expected Outcome Actual Outcome
Verify that the Stock Total field accepts only numeric characters Login to Platform and key in numeric characters Platform should accept only numeric characters Platform accepts only numeric characters
Verify that the Stock Total field does not accepts alpha-numeric characters Login to Platform and key in alpha-numeric characters Platform should NOT accept alpha-numeric characters Platform rejects alpha-numeric characters

Composition of UAT Team

This usually sparks up a lot of confusion during UAT preparations. While some schools of thought would prefer a team made up of only testers from the client side and not from the developers' side, others would prefer a team representative of novices to give an independent review.

It is, however, best practice to include in the team a mix from the client side, developer's side and untrained users. It helps in giving the test a feel closest to the product deployed in real-life conditions.

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