What Is UAT in Software Development

by Anna Khrupa on Mar 9, 2022

User acceptance testing, also known as UAT, is a type of software quality control performed from the perspective of the external users to evaluate the developed system in lifelike scenarios and executed in pre-production environments.

Acceptance testing (AT) verifies the software system operates for a customer by meeting the essential user requirements that were agreed upon. It is one of the final stages of the project that is not intended to examine the functionality or capture simple bugs like spelling errors or crashes. It primarily concentrates on validating that the developed software works under non-functional requirements. The results of UAT give confidence that the system is usable and can be accepted and released since it is fully compatible with the business criteria provided at the very beginning of the development process.

Do not confuse the (UAT) user acceptance testing definition with System testing (ST), which goes first and emphasizes making the components work together properly and the product runs without crashes. UAT is making the solution work for a user specifically. It is based on the business norms and addresses the experience customers go through while interacting with the product. UAT happens after ST is done to check whether the expected outcome is market-ready. It is cheaper to fix problems by applying real-life scenarios when the product is not released yet.

So, what is this quality control type about?

User Acceptance Testing Approach: Who, When, and Why?

Who performs UAT?

  • A client/owner
  • An end-user

UAT is preferably undertaken either by a client/owner or a user, who represents the target audience, to improve the system before it becomes publicly available for customers.

Purpose of User Acceptance Testing

The primary purpose of UAT is to remove any doubts about whether an app or software fulfills the requirements and behaves as intended without any glitch.

It is the final step before the product delivery is accepted, being thoroughly verified and evaluated. It happens on a platform that closely resembles the real-world environment, which is created for the client and the team to see for themselves whether the system can handle the required tasks.

Who benefits in this case? Both users and clients. The users are satisfied with the end product as post-implementation risks are minimized. And client satisfaction is increased due to the confidence in how well the product behaves after a release, reflecting the initial business requirements. 

How to Adopt User Acceptance Test Process

UAT is a complex procedure with a number of steps to reproduce and documents to prepare.

But how to do it right?

Prior to starting UAT, there should not be medium or critical bugs detected, integration testing should be finished, the product should be completed, and the platform should be ready. If not written well, this type of test can be quite fragile to perform. The material received by a tester should be the same as what is given to the target audience.

There is a checklist for a team to perform UAT correctly.

  • Indicating the criteria and analyzing the requirements. To write test scenarios in UAT, the team has to prepare specific documentation (business use cases, process flow diagrams, etc.).
  • UAT plan preparation. Without having a substantial user acceptance test plan, the testers are not capable of optimizing the process and covering every type of condition to monitor and review. It outlines the strategy by documenting criteria for AT, test scenarios or test cases and ensuring the code is delivered on time.
  • Specifying test scenarios. Multiple test cases, made in a clear manner, guide software engineers through potential problems, which may occur while interacting with a product. They are not overcomplicated with technical explanations and cover most scenarios.
  • Test data preparation. Live data is considered, being scrambled to verify the database flow later.
  • Selection of end-users to participate in testing. A team is formed depending on product specifics and requirements. 
  • Test execution. Previously selected testers execute specified actions and record what actually happens using close to real data and accessing different functionalities at each phase.
  • Closure report delivering. A sign-off approval is prepared to allow a product to confirm business objectives and go into the next phase.

Since UAT is finished, the final product can be moved into production with certain criteria to be met:

  • Not a single critical bug is detected;
  • The business process is organized accurately;
  • A formal sign off approval is provided.

It is critical to start planning AT early in the project life cycle as there are a few things that define user acceptance testing flow in software development.

What to consider to make the process successful?

  • Checklist. You have to prepare a checklist and all participation and business-related documentation.
  • Scope of UAT. Prepare the UAT scope defined by the time allocated, the expertise of quality engineers, and the business processes being tested.
  • Unknown user. See the matters from another person’s point of view.
  • Criteria. Consider entry/exit criteria.
  • Control. Monitor the process to make it better suited for the project objectives.
  • Summary report. Prepare a report of overall user acceptance testing approach results being presented timely before making the app publicly available.

There are risks to be aware of as well. They may include improperly trained testers, incorrect error handling, deployment process, or incomplete platform setup.

User Acceptance Testing Examples

UAT has different forms. Here are five user acceptance testing examples that are practiced to verify the product:

  1. Alpha (where the development is happening) and beta (at the customer level by real users) AT;
  2. Operational AT (proper workflow analysis);
  3. Regulation AT (whether the product complies with government rules and regulations);
  4. Contract AT (whether the product complies with contract norms);
  5. Business AT (whether the product complies with business criteria).

Like any other testing type, user acceptance testing process aims at enhancing quality and usability. But with UAT, it is the final confirmation from a client about whether the system design is configured correctly and whether the product works for a user specifically.

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