User acceptance testing (UAT) is a process that evaluates if a product meets end users’ requirements. You must define your testing plan and use this testing method to determine if your product is ready for launch or if you need to make changes.
Analyze product requirements and define deliverables.
To start, you’ll need to assess your product’s functional and business requirements to determine what needs to be tested and who needs to be involved. Functional requirement documents will guide the end-user recruitment, as those specifications will dictate the type of users who will need to participate in validating your product. You should also use functional requirements to develop test cases. Business requirements will often drive functional specifications and should also be considered as part of the testing strategy. The UAT process will determine if the implemented solutions meet the users’ needs and solve their problem or the business’s.
Developing the proper technical documentation will complete the planning stage. During this phase, you’ll need to document your testing strategy, outline rules, define how you’ll test scenarios/cases and establish standards. Creating a UAT test plan helps keep the team aligned by providing all the necessary information to conduct testing. Standard sections in a UAT test plan include an end-user testing strategy, entry criteria, exit or acceptance criteria, test scenarios, test cases, reporting standards and test reports.
Define the timing and form of end-user testing.
Acceptance testing can occur in the early stages of the project or as a last step before the product is released. The timing of your UAT implementation will largely depend on the project management methodology used to develop the product: Waterfall or Agile. Because the Waterfall method involves a step-by-step development process that aims to deliver a complete application without iterations, the product can really only be tested at the final stage of development.
The Agile process provides the opportunity to test at any stage as well as at many stages. In different phases, UAT takes different forms and requires various tools. Depending on the iteration, tests can be functional or non-functional.
The most significant difference between UAT under these two different models is that the initial requirements are more likely to shift with Agile, especially if you’re testing during the course of various iterations. This is because user acceptance testing is conducted throughout the entire product development process if your team uses the Agile method. On the other hand, the Agile model is likely to positively impact the quality of development because your team will have more immediate feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
Form a UAT team and recruit users.
You’ll need to identify the team members who should be involved in testing and then work on developing a pool of users to demo the product. Your UAT team should include testing facilitators and a team manager. The UAT manager should be appointed at the onset and will be responsible for assigning tasks to QA engineers to provide documentation, tools and support to conduct testing.
To recruit users, you can tap your existing user base for everyone from stakeholders and power users to leisure users. If you don’t have current users, you may look to recruit subject matter experts, business analysts or potential customers via your sales department’s contacts, crowd-sourcing platforms or a freelance user-testing consultant. Other means of recruiting users can include social media posts, a landing page, webinars or any of these other ideas.
Select testing tools and onboard testers.
There are specific helpful tools that aid in end-user testing. Tools like Usersnap, Testgoat and Bugwolf provide testing management solutions that allow you to report, manage tasks and leverage testing documentation templates during the user acceptance testing phase. There are other tools you can use to test your SaaS product, including UserTesting, which allows you to observe users who are interacting with your product virtually.
You’ll then onboard the users you’ve recruited through offering existing users early access, generating interest via landing pages or any of the other helpful ideas outlined above.
Create a testing environment and perform training.
You’ll need to work with your UAT team, specifically the manager, to ensure the proper testing environment is in place and that users undergo a training process. You’ll want to start by introducing users to the test’s objectives and outline the process they’ll go through in order to participate. Users will need to be trained on the tools as well as the reporting standards and guidelines. Explain test cases to users, and provide support as needed. Once the user has a clear understanding of the process and the desired outcomes, you’ll need to grant the user access to the testing environment.
In most cases, you won’t need to supply testers with the hardware and instead can conduct the process entirely online. However, if the project is complicated or includes confidential information, you may need to conduct testing at a dedicated location, such as your office. You’ll also want to consider how user reports are submitted during the testing process: manually or via specific tools.
Execute the test.
In executing the tests, it’s incredibly important that users understand exactly what they should be doing, as they aren’t professional testers. To get the best results, provide real (or seemingly real) data to users. By avoiding sample content, dummy buttons or anything else that could cause misconception, you’ll reduce the risk that they get stuck during the test case.
While testing, it’s incredibly beneficial to ensure your developers are available to fix anything that goes wrong. Testing environments can go offline or bugs can prevent users from completing the desired action and, therefore, the test. Users need to be able to access and interact with the required functionality; otherwise, they won’t be able to perform each test case as prescribed by the testing plan.
Collect and analyze data.
You’re likely to have a significant amount of data from your user acceptance testing process. Your QA team will take the lead in analyzing all of the information from user reports. Interviews with separate users can be conducted to gain even more insights or fill in gaps. .
As you’re analyzing the data, you will need to assess these essential items:
• Identify if the defined criteria were tested and met.
• Determine if your testers accomplished those criteria.
• Identify the overall rating for the test cases
• Identify how many testers completed the test cases.
• Identify failed tests and explore why there were failures.
A critical evaluation that stems from this test is system readiness, which can be measured by analyzing the percentage of tests that passed, failed or were resolved. You’ll also want to assess system stability, coverage of testing, the usability of the system and contract/requirement compliance. It should be noted that UX testing occurs during usability testing, which is a separate process from user acceptance testing. Your product can move into production after it’s been determined that the acceptance criteria have been met.
User acceptance testing will help you reduce product issues and deficiencies, and it will also reveal unconsidered user problems. These discoveries will help you save money and time while also improving the user experience and functionality. Additionally, if you conduct end-user testing during early design-focused stages, development costs can also be reduced, as the process validates what features and functionality work best for users before the SaaS product goes into production.
User acceptance testing is a critical step in the process of creating a SaaS product. Be sure you’re prepared for all of the other important phases by reading our helpful guide on the steps to launching a SaaS product.
At Geekbears, we work closely with our clients to test their SaaS applications in an end-to-end manner. We often start by creating a clickable prototype for user testing and product validation. With greater insights into user needs during the early stages, we’re able to develop a more intuitive and effective MVP for either closed/internal or beta releases to further test and validate the product. Even after launch, we continue to test and analyze, using tools like Mixpanel and Google Analytics to assess traffic patterns and gain insights into user acquisition and engagement. We believe that the more we know, the better the product will become as it continues to evolve and improve.