While Business Analysts are technically not supposed to play an active part in testing, in reality they do support and perform product testing.
One common type of tests that business analysts support is the User Acceptance Testing.
But what are User Acceptance Tests (UAT) ?
User Acceptance Testing (UAT) are tests that are usually conducted by the end user to verify that the product is working as expected. It is used to confirm if the product meets both the requirements and expectations of the stakeholders.
These tests are usually performed to capture product before it is deployed to the production environment.
The user acceptance tests are usually done in an environment that is almost identical to the final production environment.
They are one of the final tests that are conducted after all other tests such as the functional, integration and system tests are done.
But how are the User Acceptance Tests conducted ?
The UAT is usually done by the people who are going to be using the final product. These end users know the product requirements, and understand the business processes so they are best qualified to identify potential issues with the finished product.
But why is the UAT so important ?
Every experienced product team knows that the sooner you identify product problems, the cheaper they are to fix.
So while the UAT’s are performed towards the end of the project, it is still essential that they are properly performed by the right people and before the product is deployed in the production environment.
If a defective product is prematurely deployed, it can severely damage an organization and the cost of fixing the incurred damages can sometimes outweigh the value to be gained from the deploying that product.
So it is important that the user acceptance tests are conducted before the product is deployed.
So how do I conduct a UAT ?
There a few steps to be taken when conducting the UAT and they include the following :
- Once the product is ready for the user acceptance tests, the test scenarios should be created.
- The test scenarios should be created based on the requirements. If the project is Agile, then the created user stories can be used to create the acceptance testing scenarios.
- After the test scenarios are created, you should contact the users to schedule the user acceptance tests.
- The users should conduct the user acceptance tests and identify any issues with the product.
- The identified issues should be reviewed and any defects should be fixed.
- The user acceptance tests should be rescheduled.
- The users should retest the product.
- The process continues until the product passes the tests at an acceptable level.
- While this might not mean that all the identified issues are fixed, the issues might be noted and the fixes might be scheduled for the next system patch.
Note: A system patch are changes to a product which are designed to update, fix, or improve the product.
There are some tips that can help the business analyst successfully facilitate the UAT and they include the following :
- Manage expectations: while the users might expect to test a product that includes all their requirements, the business analyst should inform them in advance of the product features that they would be testing. This would help them understand what they should expect and ensure that any questions are answered before the test date.
- Conduct the UAT early : while the UAT’s are usually conducted towards the end of the project, it is important that they are conducted with enough time built in to resolve any identified issues.
- Identify the right testers : stakeholder analysis is an important part of the UAT’s because if the wrong people are invited to test the product, the product might not be properly tested and this could lead to costly mistakes. So it is vital that the right people are identified and invited to participate in the user acceptance tests.
- Prepare the test scenarios : the test scenarios that are to be used for the user acceptance tests should be created based on the end user’s perspective and real-world scenarios.
- Don’t focus on finding defects : while one of the objectives of the UAT’s is to identify product defects, it should not be the focus of the tests. The focus of the UAT is usability, the product should be simple enough for the end user’s to use but complex enough to fulfill their requirements. .
- Clarify the test results : the UAT results might include the identification of some product defects and change requests. The report might require some clarifications, so the business analyst would need to follow up with the end users to fully understand the UAT results.