Although User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is typically one of the last phases of software testing, it’s still just as important. If your new software product or purchase doesn’t meet the needs of users, what’s the point? But of course, nothing worth doing is ever easy. Software is a constant tool for work, life, and play, and we all sometimes flinch when an update is installed. Here are some best practices for user acceptance testing to get the feedback you need without frustrating end-users.
The first step to successful user acceptance testing is making sure users understand both the short and long-term goals of the testing. Like all truly important conversations, you’re going to have to use nuance here. While users absolutely need to air concerns about new requirements and features, they also must understand that what they want the software to do isn’t necessarily what it needs to do.
For example, maybe an HR software once required date of birth listed in multiple places but now inserts the question earlier in the process. This may confuse and frustrate users, but the overall increase in efficiency is better. It’s crucial to manage expectations or you’ll never get the software done.
In 2007, when those first lucky people got their iPhones, they already knew how to navigate Apple’s software. This wasn’t magic, this was UAT. Apple sold their product by claiming they’d “reinvented” the phone, meaning they’d made the familiar exotic.
But even when a familiar product becomes more enticing, there are still differences that can frustrate new users. The key to long-term adoption is to let changes happen in stages, while giving users enough time in between to get on board before a new wave hits. (One reason wireless headphones weren’t included with the first iPhone.)
The process of user acceptance testing means users must take time out of a standard day to check the software. But can your team manage such a commitment? For example, busy government agencies are often understaffed. Pulling employees to test new software means precious time away from an already overworked team. This doesn’t look that different on the private sector side, either.
However, a good quality assurance team remembers to always use people’s time wisely. Not only does this minimize frustration for the employee, it minimizes impact for the business and operations. This is why understanding how each group uses the tool and what they need to test first is key.
When it comes to nuance, finding the right perspective often means finding an outside perspective. Someone who can stand without bias and explain that what software needs to do isn’t always what we want it to do. But, for UAT to go off without a hitch, this tester needs to also remember that change is difficult for some and new users need time to express concerns, and that they must feel that their time isn’t being wasted. At iLAB we are always trying to make our processes more effective, and we consciously think about the impact a UAT test plan can have on a company. What are bumps in the road when you’re on your way to the moon? We’d like to get you there.