7 Stages of User Acceptance Testing

Designers and engineers during their work should take into account customers’ expectations about products’ interface and capabilities. Though they can rely on marketing reports or customers’ interviews, this gives only an approximate result. Special quality assurance techniques, such as usability testing or black box, allow developers to try the end-user role. Doing this way, developers can find logical mistakes and bugs in the product’s work and test a technical part of the application. But even a good-working product can fail to meet customers’ expectations, so user acceptance testing is a crucial part of the development process. 

What is the difference between quality assurance and user acceptance testing?

User acceptance testing is also known as end-user testing, application, operational, and beta-testing. All these names demonstrate the main goal of UAT: to define that the product is good or not for final customers. QA specialists call this process validation

It is needed to distinguish validation and verification.

Verification is about testing technical processes, a standard QA procedure. Verification shows that the product really works. 

Validation (UAT) guarantees that the product meets business requirements and is ready for customers. 

There are two kinds of validation:

Alpha-testing: On this stage, developers use different validation methods, for example, black-box testing. Black-box testing offers engineers the ability to test the application with an open mind: they can’t see the system’s code at this moment.

Beta-testing: the main task of this kind of testing is to validate the user acceptance level of the product. Several groups can be involved in this process:

  • Users who are already working with the product.
  • Users who worked with the previous version of the product.
  • Business analysts as end-user specialists.
  • Stakeholders engaged in product development.

According to the results, developers can fix bugs in functionality, problems with usability, system design, or business requirements.

Why is user-acceptance testing vital for product development?

UAT goal is to validate that the product meets the users’ requirements; it can also discover technical or design weaknesses in the software. Origsoft report shows that more than 75% of companies conduct several user-acceptance testing cycles in their development process. It helps them predict potential problems before the product’s launch and save a lot of money. It is complicated for developers to get close to the users’ vision, almost impossible. 

Effective UAT process requires certain preparation. Let’s consider how you can get ready for user acceptance testing. 

#1. Analyzing the product’s requirements and defining key results

At the first stage, you should figure out your functional and business requirements: they define the goal of testing and the audience to work with. 

Business requirements are the main goals of the company, for example: “We should provide several ways of payment for our customers.”

Functional requirements help to turn business requirements into technical solutions, so they look like: “Implement payment gateways: PayPal, Payoneer, Visa, and Mastercard.”

After analysis, you understand what you should test, and you can transform your functional requirements into test cases. Also, it helps you create a common testing strategy and engage QA engineers, business analysts, and product owners.  

In your planning process, you should think about the technical documentation of the UAT process, write testing strategy, rules, testing cases, standards, and more.

UAT Outcomes 

The result of the planning process is the action plan, the main document with full information about the object of testing, and who will deal with it. You should figure out all organization moments of testing with real users. 

Let’s consider what low-level details you should describe in your plan.

End-user testing strategy

In the end-user testing strategy, you should mention the product, the goal of testing, and testing types. We prepared a special listing that will help you at this stage:

  • Product description;
  • Testing scope;
  • Testing purposes;
  • Standards;
  • Types of testing;
  • Roles of testers;
  • Managers of testing;
  • Reviews;
  • Reporting standards;
  • Results.

Entry criteria

Entry criteria are the rates of the readiness of the product. They are defined by QAs, developers, business analysts, and stakeholders at the planning stage. 

Exit (acceptance) criteria 

Acceptance criteria are the last stage of UAT. These conditions demonstrate that software is valid for users. To define this, you should assign reviewers for analysis of the outcomes of testing. Also, they define that user acceptance criteria comply with requirements.

Test scenarios

Test scenarios are needed for validation of the system’s efficiency and end-to-end operations with real data. Test scenarios should cover all use cases and be approved by real users, business-analysts, or stakeholders. Every use case meets one or two user stories or requirements and should be clear in testing. For example: “Test the shopping cart functionality.” 

It is better to attract end-users to the approval of test scenarios. Doing this way, you can predict all potential variations of the product’s usage. Your test scenarios should be easy to understand without complicated technical explanations. Your process of writing scenarios can be faster if you use templates for test scenarios.

Test cases

Test cases should be equal to your test scenarios. They can be transformed from your user stories and business use cases. For example:

  • Check unregistered users when they add the product to the shopping cart.
  • Check how filters work in the shopping cart.
  • Check how the Continue Shopping button works.

Test cases work effectively when they are understandable for users and have clear goals. So, your test case can look this way:

  • Open the application.
  • Add the product to the shopping card.
  • Authentication is not required.
  • Go to the shopping cart.

Your test case can include predicted outcomes and your customers will know what to expect:

  1. The product will be on the shopping card.
  2. System asks customers to sign in.

Reporting standards

It is what your report should look like and what information it should give to the end-user.

Test reports

After your testing is completed, you will get documented output data that depends on the test standards and the test scenario. As a rule, a UAT team requires a tester’s sign-off as proof for successfully finishing the test. QA engineers or UAT managers can use the information from the test and transfer it to the development team. Also, QA engineers process end-users feedback and provide continuous communication between different team members. Test outcomes, bug reports, and other information can be used for measuring progress in the UAT process. 

#2. Choosing the methodology of end-user testing

You can hold acceptance testing at the beginning or at the end of the project. The time of testing depends on the chosen methodology. Generally, companies use the Waterfall or Agile model. 

Waterfall model in user acceptance testing

The Waterfall model is an example of traditional methodology based on step-by-step product development. Stages go in turn, so there is no design and testing at the same time. At the end of development, the company receives clear documentation and full-fledged application without iterations in development. 

In the Waterfall model, user acceptance testing takes place before the product’s launch, at the final stage of development. At this point, the system’s code and features are ready, and all preparations are completed. There are checkpoints, which your product should pass before user acceptance testing:

  • Full business requirements;
  • Complete codebase;
  • Ready QA activities: testing the system, integration, and modules;
  • Fixed bugs after QA testing;
  • Small visual problems can be accepted at this moment;
  • Finalized user acceptance environment: UAT manager or tester, test tools, scenarios, etc.

In the Waterfall model, the UAT is the key moment that defines that software is ready for launch. In this case, UAT performs full system verification: its features, bugs, usability, and checks that the product meets end-user requirements. 

Agile methodology in user acceptance

Agile methodology is about iterating every development stage, until the product achieves needed quality and functionality. Agile is about flexible development, fast-changing requirements, and little documentation. So, the development team adapts to changes in users’ requirements fast. UAT in Agile methodology can ensure the product’s validity for the end-user.

In the Agile approach, UAT can take place at each stage of product development, and end-users can influence the initial requirements. Permanent UAT testing during the development process ensures early feedback and high quality of the product.

There are checkpoints for UAT in the Agile project:

  • Ready business requirements;
  • Finished system documentation;
  • Completed test material: mock-ups, prototypes, demos;
  • User-acceptance environment.

According to the stage, UAT can use different tools or forms: it can be testing functional or non-functional requirements, system architecture, etc. 

#3. Recruiting users in the UAT team

You can choose testers from your existing customer base. Also, according to the projects’ features, stakeholders, experts in related spheres, business-analysts or leisure users can be the product’s testers. The sales department can find real users to test your product, also you can search testers on the crowdsourcing platforms or hire freelance specialists.

Creating a special landing page or posting in your social network can help you to attract attention to your product and avoid a deep involvement of the QA team. It is a perfect solution for you if your testers know the principles of work of your product or similar applications.

#4. Implementing UAT tools

In your UAT process, you should use special tools created for end-user testing. Professional QA testing tools are difficult for non-professional testers, who are not related to the development sphere. So, let’s consider instruments for reporting, task overviews, and templates for testing documentation.

Usersnap. It is a popular framework that ensures visual feedback on tested software. Users can write comments, purposes, and feedback just on the screen. 

Testgoat. With this tool, testers can use, download, and modify templates for the UAT results. Also, testers can create reports about bugs and address messages with problems description to certain people or teams. So, your testing process becomes more organized.

Bugwolf. It allows for testing the environment, reporting on bugs, and using gamification and competition testing capabilities. Also, Bugwolf demonstrates useful build-in payment options if you want online end-user testing.

You can use popular project management tools, for example, Hygger, Jira, or Trello, to conduct your UAT.

#5. Creating user acceptance environment

Well-organized training of your end-user testers can give you great results and improve your UAT process. Hence, your UAT manager should figure out a training strategy and all it steps:

  • Introduce users to the testing goals and the process;
  • Train users to deal with UAT tools (if it is necessary for your product);
  • Check that users understand test cases;
  • Provide reporting standards;
  • Provide access to the test environment.

Generally, users can complete the UAT process with their hardware, online. You don’t need to provide them with any equipment. In case of complicated projects or work with confidential data, you can gather testers in your office. Your QA engineers or managers should create documentation and provide tools and support.

#6. Running tests 

After you make sure that your end-users understand all test scenarios and test cases, you can run tests. During the testing, users should work with real or realistic data, so don’t allow random content. Inaccuracy can influence the outcome and make testing slower.

Your developers should be ready for bugs or system fixing at any moment. It is crucial to grant users access to needed functions and design elements if this moment is mentioned in your testing plan.

#7. Analyzing outcomes

Your QA team should be ready to process a large number of information from testers. They can send user reports manually or via special tools if it corresponds to your testing strategy. Also, you can conduct an interview with certain testers to get detailed reviews of user cases. 

If you measure the percentage of the passed, failed, and fixed tests, you can see the level of readiness of your product. In addition to these rates, you should consider several moments:

  • System stability. The indicator of system stability is the number of unforeseen errors that took place during testing.
  • Testing coverage. It is about the correlation between the written test cases and the completed ones. You also can compare UAT results and user journey maps to find untapped parts of the functionality.
  • The system’s usability. The marker of the system’s usability is the number of uncompleted tests, users didn’t understand how these actions can be done. As a rule, common UX is the part of usability testing, another kind of testing.
  • Meeting requirements. It is the last step in user acceptance testing. You should be sure that tested software still meets initial requirements after all changes and editions.

If reviewers approve the acceptance criteria, your product can proceed to the production stage.

Engaging end-users in product testing can help you find unpredicted problems in the system and save your time and money. As a result, the product will come to the market in perfect condition and with all the needed features. 

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