UAT as a Lean Startup

User acceptance testing (UAT) – that misunderstood human activity that is squeezed from front to back by late delivery and set-in-stone go-live dates – is an opportunity to use lean tactics.

The user acceptance team is a cross-functional team. An enterprise solution will have many different flavours of technical folk and an equally diverse range of business folk. If it were a coach on the sidelines, Lean would say to bring those diverse individuals together early to craft an approach together.

The time allocated to UAT is fixed, and might shrink. Our coach Lean would say better to identify those things that really matter and get to them first. An excellent example of a context for relentless prioritization.

The technologies you use to set up, track, and communicate with don’t have to be the expensive ones. Lean would say you can be capital-efficient by favouring simple tools – checklists over test management systems, burndown charts over tool-generated coverage reports, a kanban board for discovered issues over a defecting tracking system (issue severity is a natural attribute to use for defining classes of service).

Then there’s the communication piece. As lean is transparent to and inclusive of the customer, UAT is transparent to and inclusive of its customers – developers and those people making the acceptance decision. Constant communication and adjustment should be expected, and given. The coach would suggest that since a decision is required, asking what information those decision-makers need in front of them to make that decision is prudent. And do that at the beginning.

About Adam Geras

Adam is a senior consultant specializing in testing and managing test efforts for strategic initiatives. Adam has worked in IT for over 20 years initially as a developer and architect and now, for over a decade, as a test manager and coach for large projects across a variety of industries, including utilities, oil and gas, transportation, and travel. Adam uses a combination of agile and lean management strategies and tactics to help teams grow the effectiveness of their test effort; particularly when there are many unknowns to work with. LinkedIn Profile
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