5 Common UAT Challenges Business Analysts Have To Manage

Posted on: 16 May 2014

User acceptance testing (UAT) is a critical stage in any system development project. UAT makes sure that developers implement changes correctly, and involves defined test scenarios that mirror the things that 'real' users would do. Business analysts normally oversee the UAT stage in a project, as they have the knowledge and skills to deal with both technical and user-driven queries. According to the scale of the project, UAT can take several months and business analysts often have to deal with a number of common challenges. Learn about five common UAT problems, and discover how business analysts can prevent these issues occurring.

Lack of test resource

UAT often involves multiple, complicated test scenarios, and it takes a lot of time to accurately work through these test cases. Business analysts generally have to 'borrow' resource to carry out this work from other parts of the business because only real system users can help them decide if something is working correctly. UAT quickly grinds to a halt when these process experts suddenly have to go back to their day jobs, or where the person's manager doesn't allocate enough hours to get the work done.

In some organizations, it is common for multiple projects to rely on the same process experts to help complete UAT. This can cause significant delays, especially if projects need the same people at exactly the same time. Good planning and communication can lower this risk, and business analysts should work with the relevant managers to make sure that the project receives the right number of test hours from subject matter experts.

The wrong type of people carrying out tests

The people that managers choose to work on UAT are not always a good match to the role. Some people do not have the right attention to detail, and skim through tests without carefully checking each step. Alternatively, some people spend too much looking at single, unimportant details. In both cases, the overall quality of the testing suffers, and business analysts often then have to repeat tests or find new people to carry out the work.

Training—like at Pierson Requirements Group, Inc.—for UAT is very important, as the role needs more than just technical knowledge. Business analysts should explain the requirements of the role to resource managers, to help them choose the right people. It's also important to define a clear UAT process, so that people understand what they need to do.

Poor administration during testing

One project can easily feature over 200 test scenarios, so it's vital that the business analyst keeps detailed records of all UAT activities. Testers must document every issue that they find, or developers may not fix the problem. Business analysts also need to rank the most urgent issues to make sure the project stays on track, so it's vital that there is a comprehensive record of all the test work that users have completed. Professional test software can mitigate this issue, but a detailed spreadsheet can work just as effectively.

No consistent understanding of requirements

Business analysts will normally oversee the design of test case scenarios during UAT. These scenarios should cover every user transaction that the project needs to test. If there are not enough test cases, or if the scenarios are not thorough enough, bugs and problems can appear in the live system. This problem often occurs when different business analysts work on the project. Continuity of understanding can greatly improve UAT effectiveness, so it's always advisable to have the same business analyst working on every stage of the project. Business analyst training can also help develop the right skills to support effective UAT.

Dealing with difficult stakeholders

Business analysts often need to rely on strong diplomatic and influencing skills. It's often difficult to explain to some stakeholders why an issue uncovered by a tester is low priority, or how they can make a compromise that doesn't materially impact on the user experience. Stakeholders often focus solely on a particular need, and analysts may struggle to get them to approve test results. Business analysts can help manage this type of conflict by presenting a clear picture of business priorities. They should also try to find different solutions for stakeholders, while remaining focused on the overall aims of the project.

UAT is a critical stage in the development life cycle of any business system. Business analysts play a critical role in UAT management, but, without the right controls, a number of common problems can derail the process.