Thursday, July 07, 2011

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.


Rosie Sherry said...

Are you involved in a Lean Startup? I'm currently *learning* how lean can apply to the world of testing, would be interesting to chat or read more on the subject.


Adam said...

We're running this program like a lean startup but we're part of a larger organization so there are some constraints and freedoms that a true startup wouldn't have.

Even our early tests will be with real customers. We will use A/B testing to explore non-technical test targets such as training materials, usage guides, and communications to the customer in addition to using the agile testing quadrants to help us deliver the solution.

Among an expanded view of what we're testing, the early involvement of customers, the testing-as-controlled-experiments mentality, acceptance-testing-as-business-simulation, there's much to do about lean and testing.

I'll try to add more here as we apply these principles in practice - there's some experimentation going on there too.

Would love to chat more on this - and read/experiment more... links or recommendations are welcome!