UAT (User Acceptance Testing): Explained in 5 Minutes

31 Oct · 5 min read

UAT (User Acceptance Testing): Explained in 5 Minutes

User acceptance testing, as the name suggests, is the testing phase of a product right before it is shipped. UAT verifies if the product fulfills all requirements for which it was built. This is where all business requirements are cross-verified, and usability is checked. This is the last phase of the software development life cycle which can either trigger change requests or go live. Here, the end-to-end business flow is validated with real-world scenarios. 

User Acceptance Testing is carried out in a separate testing or staging environment where the product with all the changes is deployed and can be tested in similar conditions to the production environment. Enterprises usually have 3 different environments for a product:

  • Quality Assurance - An offline or semi-online environment for the QA team to test their scenarios before escalating the product to the UAT phase.
  • UAT environment - A staging environment where the application’s main users test the product before it goes live.
  • Production environment - This is where the deployed application goes live.

These environments ensure that all the releases lined up in a product succeed without any hassle.

What is the purpose of UAT?

Although changes in a product are made with proper documentation and communication, there can still be issues with gluing the new code with the existing code base. This also happens when the code runs perfectly in a virtual environment but malfunctions in real-business scenarios. Apart from that, exceptions might not be dealt with due to missing documentation. 

User Acceptance testing is done to cater to all the aforementioned scenarios and to make the product bug-proof

UAT is also where the internal team can test if the product delivers what the customers want. Test scenarios are developed from a user point of view to form a mix of high-level and granular testing.

What’s the difference between QA and UAT?

The difference between Quality Assurance and User Acceptance Testing can be confusing but there is a clear line. UAT is the last step of testing and is done by business users to test all the business scenarios before moving the product to live. QA is to ensure that the individual parts of the product have no issues before the whole product is finalized and sent to UAT. UAT is where the whole gelled series of changes are tested at one place as if it were the production environment. Once the changes are declared bug-free, the product is then escalated to production where it is deployed and brought to speed with the production database.

Why not test on Production?

Having performance issues or bugs in the production environment immediately stacks up customer tickets which not only is a hassle for the engineering team but it also is a huge setback in terms of the reputation of the company and product. 

The production environment is the running machine where downtimes and performance issues can not be tolerated. Hence, all changes are first tested in the UAT environment before they go live. All missing areas are reported as defects which carry out the whole life cycle to fix and test. So, in order to maintain the integrity and reputation of the company and product in front of the customers, all testing is done before sending the changes to production.

Best practices for UAT processes

If the User Acceptance Testing is done without best practices in mind, the procedure can either elongate or test cases can be missed. To avoid any such issues further on, it is recommended that the UAT process is optimized and follows a checklist.

  • Documenting the testing plan
  • UAT scoping
  • UAT execution
  • Go-Live

Documenting the testing plan

UAT is an important aspect of the software development lifecycle, and product owners should make sure that the testing plan is properly documented including all testing scenarios. This document is to be shared with all the stakeholders so that everyone is on the same page in line with Agile principles. This document includes the following points:

  • The teams responsible for carrying out UAT
  • Instructions for gathering test data
  • Steps for the process
  • Intended results

The documented test scenarios are essential when it comes to UAT as this contains the business scenarios, steps to perform a test case, and the desired result against each item. 

UAT Scoping

This step encompasses jotting down all the items that are critical to acceptance testing. Some business processes can be ignored due to multiple reasons. UAT scoping can help reduce the time required in the overall testing procedure and make it much simpler. 

UAT Execution

Now that all the stakeholders are clear on the steps required for execution, the UAT process can formally begin. This requires very strong communication between the testing, development, and product teams. 

All the progress is reported and documented. Defects are managed timely to ensure that the end product is flawless. Once the whole process is executed, the changes can now go to production.

Who performs User Acceptance Testing?

User Acceptance Testing is carried out by business users. This includes people with proper domain and business knowledge and how the product is supposed to behave under different conditions. This can be done by project managers, business analysts, and testing managers who can divide the tasks for multiple users at once. Sometimes end users and clients are involved in this testing as well to get a fresh perspective on the development. 

One of the most important aspects usually ignored by most people is the time taken for the UAT should be extrapolated for worst-case scenarios, i.e. all test cases fail to execute. This is due to the fact that all development teams are required to present deadlines for the changes and efficient project management requires proper time allocation and distribution for the changes to develop, test, and deploy. All-in-all, for an application to perform successfully in a production environment, it is necessary that the changes go through all the environments and undergo all testing processes following the steps mentioned before.

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