Saturday, November 17, 2007

Customer acceptance testing

This is advice on acceptance testing from an article here.

Acceptance Testing

Seventy percent of all software projects fail outright. When considering the other 30% of "successful" projects, you find many cases where the organisations involved merely declared victory and shut everything down.

But why do projects fail? Missing, miscommunicated, or misunderstood requirements are by far the biggest reasons. Hopefully I've given you some tools to help make these problems go away.

A close second to all this? Lack of end-user acceptance. Why? Because rarely are front-line troops—the ones who will use your application—ever invited to stakeholder meetings. They never get to give any input. Their managers or outside consultants are the only ones you ever meet. Unfortunately, these people don't have the kind of visibility actual users of your system have.

Ignore the end user at your own peril! Most of the time, the stakeholders you're dealing with don't know you need to talk to end users at all. You're the expert, not them! Even if they present you with reams of documents in which they've covered every conceivable request from end users, request a tour of the office or plant floor. Meet some end users. Take them out to lunch. Talk to them early, see what's bugging them.

Spend an afternoon just hanging out watching what happens. How do their processes get them through the day? Where do their processes get in the way? Where do they put in short cuts to avoid bureaucratic nightmares? Does person A from this department do small favours for person B in finance to expedite work orders?

If you ignore the end user at the beginning of the process, if you don't talk to them upstream, you certainly will be talking to them at the end of the process, when you deliver the final application for acceptance testing and/or training.

Guess what? Those stakeholders who didn't give you access to the end users early on will be asking those end users at the end of the project what they think of the new application, and you'll be judged by what they say. Fair? No. But you didn't ask, and they didn't have that kind of visibility into your expertise.

Remember, no one can verify you're on the right track more than an end-user who is an expert on a particular procedure or workflow.

Customer acceptance testing UK

No comments: