UAT isn’t magic but it shares some characteristics with Quidditch, a sport featured in the Harry Potter series. In this game of wizards, team consists of three Chasers, two Beaters, one Keeper and one Seeker, with each role requiring different skills. Although the Seeker is the fastest and most agile team member, his ability to clinch a victory by capturing the Golden Snitch relies on the contributions of his teammates. VMC’s Galen Erickson says User Acceptance Testing (UAT) success also depends on the right mix of skills among the participant team.
UAT is about verifying that an application or solution meets business requirements. So, participants who perform UAT should be power users – those who know the business process well and can identify blockages in a release by using its new features. However, we’re meticulous in figuring out the right mix of power users. Any given business application will have multiple intended and unintended usage scenarios. For instance, some applications are localized and require validation based on region-specific factors. Other times, different groups within the same region may use certain features or functionality in different ways or for different purposes. This might not be the intended use of the tool, but if it supports a business process it should be validated in UAT.
Beyond location and group, power users vary based on their roles within a business process. Some are strategic users, approaching from a “big picture” viewpoint. In contrast, some power users are tactical users who may be more concerned with specific configuration points and do more data entry. We need both types of power users to be represented in UAT. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set formula for what comprises the right mix of power users for a tool. It’s different from one project to the next, depending on a number of variables. That’s why we are very methodical in our UAT discovery, goal-setting and communications efforts.
With the right combination of users, UAT is a golden opportunity to take offensive measures to avoid post-release issues. What is your method for seeking out the right UAT participants?