Quick – think about UAT. Or, if you manage the people who do your organization’s UAT, ask them to think about it quickly. What expressions did they (or you) pull? We’re willing to bet it wasn’t a warm smile, full of fond memories of smoothly run processes, the adulation of business users, and the feeling of utter security knowing that the latest software update released to the business is completely safe and ready for business use.
UAT is hard. Damned hard. In fact, as the title suggests, we’d go so far as to say that the way most organizations do UAT right now makes it NASTY. In this blog, we’re explaining exactly why it is that UAT is such a pain for organizations like yours – and what you can do to fix it.
UAT is NASTY because…
Nobody wants to do it.
UAT is vital but unpopular. For most businesses, UAT is a manual, painful process that is hard to keep track of and encourages human error. Business users don’t like doing it, and IT doesn’t really want to manage it.
(It’s) Always at the wrong time.
UAT is vital whenever you update software – which is part of the reason why, for years, organizations would only update their software when absolutely necessary. But the move to cloud applications has given control of when your software gets updated to vendors – who are releasing updates regularly and frequently to ensure their product is as good as it can be. Instead of an annual (or less frequent) activity that could be treated as a one-off, UAT is now becoming a cyclic process that can feel a bit like painting the Golden Gate Bridge – your only prize for finishing is getting to start over again.
Seriously disruptive to your business.
Every time you need to run UAT, you must book business users to run the tests – meaning they can’t do their day jobs. And your IT team has to create, administer, and get feedback from the tests and then manage passing that feedback to the dev team. Admittedly, that is their day job, but it’s work that gets in the way of other things. And since UAT is getting to be a bigger and bigger part of your organization’s life, the disruption it causes to the business is growing.
Testing is difficult for users.
Unless you’re asking an IT testing professional to test a piece of software that helps them, your business users will not be familiar with the art of testing software. And the tests themselves, sadly, aren’t always very user-friendly. The result is that tests often aren’t completed correctly – making the feedback useless – or the feedback is written in a way that makes it… well, useless. Comments such as “this doesn’t work” or “can’t do that” with an accompanying yet mystifying screenshot don’t provide the dev team with useful feedback. Bad feedback also makes it hard to triage, meaning you might miss a potentially business-breaking problem simply because the feedback was too vague. The only solution (other than the power of prayer) is to go and talk to the business user again to try and get to the bottom of the issue – taking up more of their time.
You do it or die.
UAT is vital for making sure that software updates don’t break your business. There are plenty of examples across recent history of major brands waking up one morning unable to sell to customers, ship orders, and worse – all because an update was released that broke a critical process. It can cost businesses millions, and some have even wound up on the receiving end of lawsuits from shareholders. This means that, despite all its woes, UAT won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
What can you do about it?
The good news is that UAT doesn’t have to be NASTY. In fact (please don’t groan) it can be… NICE. You just need to…
Nail easy testing for business users.
If you can make testing easy for business users, then UAT will happen faster, there’ll be less back and forth between IT and business users, and your organization’s operations manager might stop scowling at you whenever you requisition users for UAT. The key things here are to make the test as user-friendly as possible, guide them through what you need them to do, and automatically document the outcome.
Implement a dedicated solution.
For most organizations, UAT lives in spreadsheets, screenshots, emails, and the nightmares of those who run it. A software solution designed to manage the creation, dissemination, and conducting of tests will end the confusion that the increase in testing volume is creating. No more spreadsheet version control, no more hunting through emails for feedback, and – hopefully – no more nightmares.
Collect consistent feedback.
You need to look at how you create and administer tests and design both of those elements in a way that makes it easy for business users to give you the right kind of feedback. For instance, implementing a system that makes them select an area of a screenshot or recording to attach feedback to will make it much easier for you to understand what “doesn’t work” and how to fix it.
Embrace end-to-end testing.
UAT needs to be closely linked to the rest of the development lifecycle – especially when it comes to giving user feedback to the dev team. The less doubling up of management between a UAT system and your dev system you have to do, the better. Try and build a system that lets you monitor a test from creation through to the implementation of the feedback from that test – it’ll help you sleep much more comfortably, knowing your feedback has all been implemented.
No more acronyms, promise.
Sorry, they were a bit cheesy – but they serve to make the point that UAT, as most companies currently do it, exposes organizations to serious operational risks and is a chore for everyone involved. But it doesn’t have to be.
At Original Software, we’ve developed a dedicated UAT solution that helps your team get control of UAT. Our software has been proven to speed up test cycles, reduce the amount of time business users spend testing, and improve the quality of feedback that the team has to work on – all, ultimately, saving our clients money. With the right UAT management solution, you can get the very best out of your cloud applications and focus your attention on other important matters, confident that your UAT processes won’t accidentally let problematic updates through for your users. Doesn’t that sound… good?