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The Trouble With UAT – Part 2 September 29, 2009

Posted by yvettefrancino in QA.

Business Requirements Need To Be Detailed

In yesterday’s post I summarized a teleseminar I attended that described the importance of drilling down on Business Requirements which should be the basis for UAT Testing.  Robin Goldsmith suggested that too often we go right from Business Requirements to Product Specifications and that UAT is typically a subset of the product functionality tests that were already performed by the QA Team. While I agree with the premise of getting detailed Business Requirements which are tested in the UAT phase, I didn’t think this presentation addressed the issue that was suggested by the title: Helping Users Find Time for User Acceptance Testing.

The Business Users Need to be Involved Throughout the Lifecycle

I believe the big problems with UAT come when the business is not involved throughout the cycle. Even if they give the most thorough of Business Requirements up front, if they are not given some early previews as the product develops they are bound to come back with a great big, “Huh?” when the code is thrown over the wall for them to test at the end. Just as the communication and collaboration between QA and Development has to be strong throughout the lifecycle, so does the communication with the business.  I’ve been on projects where the development team is reluctant to share early code with the business, not wanting them to see a work in progress.  This almost invariably ends with the business claiming, “This isn’t what we asked for.”  On the other hand, for the projects that involved the business throughout the lifecycle with iterative releases, there were no surprises. Questions about business requirements and how those mapped to functional requirements were addressed throughout the development cycle, ensuring the entire team was on the same page.

The Key to Finding Time? The Relationship

But this still doesn’t answer the question: how do you help users find time? There are so many methodologies…which of those are the best at helping users find time for UAT?  We could go into a deep philosophical discussion here about the different methodologies and efficiencies of each — but, I’ll save that for a different blog post.  My thought is that everything is centered around the relationships you have with the project team.  We all have the same number of hours in each day, but we tend to make time for the people we trust and respect. If the relationships are strong between all the team members, they will work together and find the time to make sure the product is high-quality.  Even when I have been on projects that were following the traditional waterfall approach, I have brought trusted business users in early to get their take and ask questions and get their input.  They were part of the team.  And when you are part of a team that you like, you make the time to do your part. Maybe you do it over lunch or squeeze it in between meetings. But you communicate!  I think I will create a new software development lifecycle methodology that goes like this:

Collaborate -> Communicate -> Celebrate



1. yvettefrancino - October 1, 2009

I had lunch with a trusted colleague yesterday who totally disagreed with me on this one. She raised a few valid points… Having “too much” business involvement throughout the cycle might result in scope creep. It also has to be clear who represents the business/user community because you can have as many different opinions as there are users. I also am not recommending UAT early on…simply communication with the business to keep them in the loop.

My friend, being the good QA professional that she is, has found some clear gaps in my blog post that should have been further clarified!

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