User Acceptance Testing (UAT) Agile Best Practices

by Thijs Kok, on March 29, 2022

Summary: This article discusses the importance of integrating User Acceptance Testing (UAT) into agile software development, highlighting the benefits of planning UAT as part of sprints, the challenges of incorporating UAT into an agile workflow, and providing best practices for a successful agile UAT process, emphasizing the role of test management platforms like TestMonitor in improving software quality.

Quality assurance (QA) and software testing are natural parts of the software development lifecycle, including for teams that use agile methodologies.

However, having development team members perform testing at the end of a sprint isn’t the same as user acceptance testing (UAT). Although it’s difficult to find direct references to UAT in any formal agile documentation, failing to weave in this form of quality assurance can be risky.

So how can your team balance the benefits of UAT with the efficiencies of agile?

Benefits of Planning UAT as a Part of Sprints

The Agile Manifesto is the definitive guide to the sprint-based software development approach, emphasizing the importance of putting the customer first, from the first step through to the end. In fact, the manifesto states it this way: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”

This definition aligns with the foundational purpose of UAT, which “verifies whether a product or software is fit for the purpose it was built for in the first place.”

Taking the time to utilize UAT and verify a piece of software at any stage in its development can also provide other benefits. UAT can: 

  • Boost collaboration between customers and developers to create a holistic product that meets requirements.
  • Increase the number and type of potential defects that can be found through a new tester perspective.
  • Allow your team to benefit from the power of agile without disrupting the development process.

Determine if user acceptance testing makes sense for your current or upcoming  project >>

Challenges to Integrating UAT into an Agile Workflow

Although there are numerous benefits to performing UAT during any development approach, there are still potential challenges that teams need to overcome.

When performing UAT, it can be difficult to: 

  • Find the right level and method to communicate and coordinate with UAT testers without slowing down the agile process.
  • Make detailed user stories for testing that accurately reflect end-user needs.
  • Find the right time and environment to perform UAT during agile sprints.
  • Identify an intuitive method to record acceptance and how defects are woven into upcoming sprints.
  • Minimize the administrative burden on Scrum Masters and QA professionals to set up and manage tests.

What Are Some Agile UAT Best Practices?

Although agile development is known for its quick, focused periods of design and development, another strength of this approach is the structure it brings to teams. Typically, each sprint includes setting a goal, scoping the work through user stories, and confirming the velocity and capacity, among other steps. 

Teams can follow this same structure for their software testing—including UAT—so it happens early and frequently throughout development. However, because UAT involves end users, this form of quality assurance can be more tricky to balance with the speed of agile.

To ease this process and overcome the challenges listed above, teams can follow some of these agile UAT best practices:

  • Before beginning the project, set expectations for weaving UAT into sprints, including the purpose, timeline, key players, and benefits of the agile UAT process.
  • Identify UAT testers that represent each stakeholder group and can assist with product evaluation throughout the development lifecycle.
  • Utilize a test management platform that makes developing tests, recording results, and communicating with testers easy and personalized.
  • Ensure user-focused stories are woven into agile development sprints and updated as the software evolves.

Boost Your Agile UAT Process

No matter how long you have been a software developer or QA professional, the challenges and rewards of developing a product that end users love are difficult to match.

Fortunately, as the software development field has matured, so have development tools. Developers now have more tools at their disposal to minimize the risks and challenges that come with their work. Some of the most versatile and powerful are test management platforms like TestMonitor, which are designed to help teams build software that is as secure, stable, and bug-free as possible.

Want to learn more about how to take your software testing to the next level? Then make sure to check out The Complete Guide to Next-Level User Acceptance Testing.

Download The Complete Guide to Next-Level User Acceptance Testing

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