User-Acceptance Testing in a Testing Center of Excellence
Centralization of system testing services into a testing center of excellence (TCoE) is common in IT shops today. To make this transformation mature, the next logical step is to incorporate the user-acceptance testing (UAT) function into the TCoE. This mandates that the testing team develop business-process knowledge coupled with technology and test process expertise.
Here are some lessons that will aid in integrating the UAT function as part of the TCoE:
Lesson One: To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. Create a snapshot of the UAT scenarios and communicate (rather, overcommunicate) to all stakeholders. For example, UAT for a new application could mean exhaustive testing; for emergency fixes or maintenance, it could mean only regression testing of the fix and the associated functionality.
Define a catalog of testing types. Define every test type your TCoE will offer by technology. For example:
For all web-based applications, the UAT test catalog will comprise the following:
- Feature testing: Validation of product-specific features
- Data migration testing: Validation of data migrated from legacy to renewed systems
- Interface testing: Validation of web-integration services
Lesson Two: Convert the art into a science. Mandate usage of systematic techniques in the TCoE to remove dependence on people. Some good techniques to create UAT criteria include mind maps, decision tables, and process workflows.
Lesson Three: Become a domain expert. Evangelize a multidimensional test coverage framework. At a minimum, this framework should consist of standards and guidelines to cover function, usability, reliability, performance, and scalability.
Lesson Four: If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. Institutionalize a set of lean service-level agreements. Good examples in the beginning include a measure of the team’s ability to identify testable UAT defects or avoid false positive defects. Time to market and reduced costs are strong SLAs to target in the long term.
Lesson Five: Automation applied in an inefficient environment will magnify the inefficiency. Automating in a production-like test environment with all the hardware and software components tends to be complicated. Automate a very lean set of critical scenarios and test data set-up and environment set-up activities. Shoot for 30 percent to 40 percent overall automation.
Lesson Six: Measured confidence blurs the risk. Define a risk-based UAT model, formulate UAT goals, and determine the risk class for every application. After that, use the risk class to determine depth of testing, estimates, and a test plan.
Technology evolves, new users come in, and there are always a hundred ways to do things better. Constantly demonstrate the discipline of a structured UAT TCoE by incorporating little ways to be more efficient.
Deepika Mamnani is presenting the session User Acceptance Testing in the Testing Center of Excellence at STARWEST, in Anaheim, CA, October 12–17, 2014.