A User Acceptance Test is an evaluation given to a piece of software to make sure that it meets the goals set for it during the design and programming phases of its development. Performing a UAT is an important part of software development because it ensures that the finished program meets the needs of its intended users. A UAT is typically performed during the final stage of development, when the software is tested as a whole.
- Skill level:
Establish criteria for the user acceptance test. Determine the objectives of the test such as the specific design goals that the program should meet and how the program operates under select real-world conditions.
Create a logistical plan for the UAT. This plan should define key points such as the testing method used for the UAT, how the test objectives should be met or attempted during the course of testing and what program features or activities will be the specific focus of the current testing cycle.
Write a script to base the UAT off of. This script should include specific information on the actions that are to be performed during the test, the expected results of these actions and any special procedures or requirements for testers once the testing cycle begins.
Create the actual test worksheet for UAT testers, using the script as a guide. Make sure that the worksheet includes any information that the testers need to know during the test such as the actions they are to perform and any passwords or product keys that may be required during their use of the software. Do not include information regarding your expectations of the test results as this could result in tester bias. Make sure that the test worksheets contain space for testers to write thorough descriptions or additional information as needed.
Recruit testers either from within your company or from pools of potential end users. In an ideal situation, you should include both types of testers so that your testing groups have a mix of experience and inexperience with the software, though this is not necessary. If recruiting from outside of the company, make sure that any testers sign non-disclosure agreements to keep their testing experiences confidential.
Allow testers to use the software, answering test questions based on their experiences. The testers will follow the instructions of the test, performing the required actions and reporting the results.
Evaluate the test results after each testing cycle has ended, comparing the responses of your testers to the script you created previously. If the results reached by the test groups are not consistent with your expected results, consider the possible reasons and make corrections or other adjustments to the software if necessary.
Tips and warnings
- If you wish for your UAT cycles to account for real-world conditions in addition to controlled conditions, set up additional test groups who work from a different test worksheet. The secondary worksheet should not contain the same strictly defined actions as your primary test worksheet, allowing the testers to have more control over their use of the program and creating a closer approximation to how the software will behave when used by a standard consumer.
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