Acceptance testing is an unavoidable part of any software development project. This testing stage is crucial to ensuring that software solutions are free of bugs and fit for their purpose. In many cases, development teams will need to engage non-testers during the acceptance testing phase. Non-testers can represent a variety of disciplines, including UX designers, analysts, and developers.
Sometimes, non-testers can also be project sponsors or business stakeholders. No matter what their background, non-testers are vital in identifying software issues that might derail a development project.
Acceptance Testing Explained
In simple terms, acceptance testing is used to determine that software is fit for purpose before progressing to the production stage. During testing, software must meet exacting specifications and prove that it fulfils the requirements of a given project. Ultimately, acceptance testing is vital in guaranteeing that software fits the needs of end-users before production is completed and the solution is delivered to customers.
This testing is typically carried out during the end stages of testing, immediately after integration and general system testing has been completed. Acceptance testing is usually carried out by software developers, although end-users may also take charge of this testing stage.
When it comes to software testing, four different approaches are commonly utilised. These include alpha and beta testing, user acceptance testing, and business acceptance testing.
Advantages of Acceptance Testing
Acceptance testing is essential in ensuring that software products provide real value to a business. Testing helps improve the overall performance of the software by spotlighting room for improvement. It also improves the overall acceptance rate of software solutions. Once testing has been completed, the software can finally be deployed.
The testing stage will quickly determine whether or not software meets basic requirements. If it doesn’t, it can be returned to developer teams to make any necessary changes. Acceptance testing is vital in identifying issues early, minimising the chance of bugs causing problems when it comes to launching software for adaption by end-users.
Some businesses resist acceptance testing, considering it as an unnecessary expenditure. However, the relatively modest costs of acceptance testing far outweigh the software problems it can pre-empt. Acceptance testing identifies potential defects at an early stage, where the costs involved to remedy them are marginal.
Acceptance testing also flags potential installation issues. Ordinarily, verification processes focus squarely on software errors. By targeting installation-specific issues, developers can be confident that final software solutions will perform smoothly at every stage.
Finally, using this method of testing is useful in enhancing user confidence. In the case of user acceptance testing, the user will develop greater insights into the software that aid usability when the software is finally launched more generally.
Involving Non-Testers in Acceptance Testing
Shared quality ownership should be a core philosophy for any agile development team. As such, team members need to be involved in this method of testing. In a typical scenario, an experienced tester takes charge, while non-testers are also actively involved.
Involving non-testers in acceptance testing can be achieved in various ways. One approach is pair testing. If you’re looking to embrace a more transparent approach, pair testing is the way to go. Pair testing combines a developer with a tester, although team composition can vary. This makes it ideal for those looking to involve non-testers. As non-testers are encouraged to ask questions of the tester in this scenario, their role is particularly valuable here.
Compared to other approaches, pair testing can prove time-consuming. However, investing the additional time is more than worth the eventual payoff. Most importantly, pair testing provides value to everyone participating.
Embrace Test Activities
In many situations, pair testing may not be feasible. If your teams are working remotely, traditional pair testing exercises can’t be carried out. However, if you do benefit from a centralised workforce, it makes sense to play to the strengths of your team. Utilise different test activities that are tailored to the expertise of individual non-testers. This will ensure that when testing is carried out, you’ll benefit from far richer insights. Again, this method can prove time-consuming. However, it’s a great way of leveraging the skills of a multi-disciplined team effectively.
How to Compensate for a Small Testing Team
In many situations, businesses will need to overcome the issue of small acceptance testing teams. If this applies to your situation, there’s no other option but to involve non-testers in the process. If you anticipate an ongoing need for non-testers, it’s worth investing the time and energy into educating your pool of non-testers.
To kick things off, schedule some workshops to introduce non-testers to the fundamentals they need to know. These workshops can lay out the basics of acceptance testing quickly. Try and involve as many people as possible in these sessions. Not only will simultaneous training save you time and money, but it will also standardise knowledge levels to ensure more consistent results.
It’s also worth involving experienced testers at this stage. Even if they’ve been operating in tester roles for some time, these foundation-level workshops will fill any remaining gaps in their knowledge.
This type of test testing is an unavoidable part of end-stage software development. Not only does it highlight any remaining bugs and critical issues, but it also ensures that final products are ready for real-world application. Non-testers can prove a valuable asset to any acceptance testing stage, particularly when it comes to multi-disciplinary insights.
Fortunately, involving non-testers in the process is straightforward. If you’ve time to spare, pair testing is a practical route to take. However, in-house training and tailored test activities are worth investigating.
About the Author
Ciaran Hourican is the Managing Director of H-Training, a Learning and Development company, that offers career and corporate services such as interview coaching, career guidance for adults and leadership programs.
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