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There are a number of reasons why user acceptance testing can go off the rails and one of the major reasons is the user acceptance testing team itself.
It's important to remember that while testers may be familiar with legacy software and the operational environment, they may not be completely prepared to take on the task of final software quality testing. Testers may not be fully updated on changes or familiar with the modernized IT involved. Updates such as service-oriented architecture have widened the gap between legacy and updated systems and altered the way software testing is done. Also, testers drawn from user staff may not be familiar with the most up-to-date test management tools.
Ensuring that the right people are involved in the user testing process is a good way to mitigate these problems. One way is to make certain that people are up to speed on testing procedures and testing software. They should not only be computer literate, they should also be recently trained. This is sometimes known as the Hit the Ground Running Method. If people are unfamiliar with the testing software being used, then they should be trained in its use as close as possible to the start of actual testing. This eliminates the need for people to re-familiarize themselves with the software when they sit down to start and minimizes the chance for errors. In other words, they can hit the ground running.
Users should be involved in earlier stages, where they can actually provide useful information during the software development process. They can then provide advisors or direct contributors when it comes time to develop testing scenarios.
Make sure you involve the right people. They should have an excellent grasp of the business specifications required, understand the tasks involved and, if possible, be the actual owners of those tasks. This will help you get as close as possible to the actual business environment in user experience testing. And it will also help keep testing running smoothly.
User acceptance testing is an important part of software testing, and the key to assembling a winning UAT team is to go with the most knowledgeable people first.
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