How UAT has changed the testing paradigm and put the human face on testing
This was a holdover from the punch card era where the machine dictated the interface. As computers became more and more ubiquitous and began to invade every element of business function, they ceased to be the domain of a particular department and became as universal as pens and pencils.
The “exclusively for geeks” factor has reduced until most, if not every, individual in the average organisation uses some sort of software application in their daily activities. This is one of the main reasons why UAT was developed in the first place. User Acceptance Testing has also greatly increased the importance of aesthetics in software development. It is no longer important to just produce functioning software, that function must also be aesthetically pleasing to the user.
While the original goal of software testing was simply to make certain that the software met specifications and didn’t have any bugs, User Acceptance Testing exists to support day to day business activity. Rather than being concerned with the software alone, UAT tests for common as well as possible scenarios that could interrupt business operations. Traditional testing is concerned primarily with the software alone, while User Acceptance Testing is concerned with application plus environment.
UAT places a necessary buffer between the software and the live environment. Usability has become as important as function. This means that UAT is concerned with the unusual as well as the routine. This is a major change in the testing paradigm, because it acknowledges that the user must often think on his or her feet and take actions that aren’t always standard procedure and that the application must allow for this within the standard business requirements.
User Acceptance Testing enables analysis and identification of both normal and unusual business scenarios and the testing of the application against both the normal and the abnormal, all before the system goes live. This raises the final quality of function and makes integration into the business environment easier and more productive.
UAT makes certain that solutions meet business requirements at a level beyond simple day to day activity. It enables the integration of resources and relevant tools before non-integration can become a problem. It also points out where more training is needed and allows the user to do hands on evaluation and provide needed feedback to the development team and stakeholders.
There was a time when pleasing the user was not a part of testing. In fact, user acceptance has only recently become important and is now considered a vital part of testing protocol.