Acceptance Testing- An Overview
As we have discussed in the Types of Software Testing guide, acceptance testing is the process of verifying that the entire system works as expected. It is usually performed by the end user or client to verify that the software product works as intended before they pay for it and it moves to production.
This is the last stage of software testing that occurs after unit and integration testing. It helps to identify defects that may have been missed during earlier stages of testing and is a great way of ensuring that feedback on product performance and end-user satisfaction is acted upon.
As the tester in this case has good knowledge of the business, this type of software testing provides ample clarity on the product’s actual capabilities, while ensuring that it fulfills all requirements from both business and technical standpoints.
Why Acceptance Testing?
Acceptance testing gains relevance in several scenarios, as listed below:
- When requirements may change mid-development and this hasn’t been effectively communicated to the development team.
- When developers may misunderstand the nuances of certain client requirements and develop wrong or slightly different functionality.
- When the end user or client can directly test the application to ensure its functionalities work as intended and to confirm that the software is on par with other similar applications in the market.
Types of Acceptance Testing
There are several types of acceptance testing, the most common of which include:
- User Acceptance Testing (UAT): User acceptance testing or end-user testing is used to determine if the application works as the user intended. This type of testing would focus on specific use cases that would be performed by customers or end users.
- Business Acceptance Testing (BAT): Business Acceptance Testing is used to check if the application meets business goals or not. As the market keeps changing with new technological innovations, the application must keep pace with such changes in order to be profitable.
- Alpha Testing: Alpha testing is used to assess the application in the development testing environment. It is usually performed by a team of specialized testers, also referred to as ‘alpha testers’.
- Beta Testing: In beta testing, the product is exposed to real end users, also known as ‘beta testers’. By focusing on real user experience, this type of testing helps to enhance the application further, while correcting defects that may have been missed earlier.
- Contract Acceptance Testing (CAT): Contract Acceptance Testing ensures that once the application goes live, the acceptance tests must be performed within a specific time frame, and it should pass all defined acceptance use cases. This usually involves a contract that clearly defines the period in which testing will be performed, the scope of testing, and terms where payment for the application will be made only after it has been guaranteed to fulfill all client requirements that were defined at the outset.
- Regulations Acceptance Testing (RAT): Regulations Acceptance Testing is used to determine whether the application violates any rules or regulations in the country where it is to be released.
- Operational Acceptance Testing (OAT): Operational Acceptance Testing is used to ensure the non-functional readiness of the application, such as backup and disaster recoverability, reliability, scalability, and so on. This helps to ensure product stability ahead of its release.
Acceptance Testing Process
Acceptance testing includes the following steps:
- Requirement Gathering and Analysis: Here, the testing team analyzes the requirements document to better understand the business and technical goals of the application. This aids the test planning by providing ample information on the process flow, specific business use cases as well as system requirements.
- Test Planning: By developing a well-defined test plan, the testing team is equipped with a strategy to verify if the application’s functionalities are meeting defined requirements as expected.
- Test Case Designing: In this step, the acceptance test cases are developed based on the test plan documentation.
- Test Case Execution: Here, the test cases are executed by the testing team as well as the end user to ensure that the application works as intended in all scenarios.
- Confirmation of Objectives: This is the final confirmation stage after successful completion of the above-mentioned testing processes; the testing team confirms that the application is bug-free, meets all intended business requirements, and the application is now ready for wider release.
Advantages of Acceptance Testing
- Acceptance testing allows for a deeper understanding of business requirements, as it directly involves feedback from end users.
- It guarantees absolute client satisfaction as they are involved in the testing process.
- The entire functionality of the application is tested after other types of testing have been completed, ensuring the identification of any bugs that may have slipped in earlier.
- As the software’s quality criteria are defined at the outset, the execution of acceptance test cases becomes simpler.
Disadvantages of Acceptance Testing
- Ideally, the development or testing teams should not be a part of the user tests. But in some scenarios, the test cases may have been defined by the testers and this may be hard for the end user group to comprehend fully. This would mean that the tester(s) may have to spend additional time assisting the end user(s) to test such scenarios.
- The testing feedback from the end user group may be complex and time-consuming as it involves feedback from multiple individuals.
Acceptance Testing Best Practices
Know Your Audience: The end user group that performs acceptance testing must be both actual and potential users of the application who are well-versed with the business requirements and application functionality objectives.
Strategy is Key: A well-defined test plan helps describe the key objectives and scope of acceptance testing. This will go a long way in minimizing last-minute obstacles and delays due to a lack of a clear strategy.
Detailed Test Cases: Prepare detailed test cases that specify conditions and expected results for each test that needs to be performed.
Prioritize Defects: Defects detected during the acceptance testing phase must be prioritized to ensure that critical issues are addressed and resolved before moving into production.