Acceptance Testing

Acceptance Testing

Software Acceptance Testing

Test basis

  • User requirements
  • System requirements
  • Use cases
  • Business processes
  • Risk analysis reports

Typical test objects

  • Business processes on fully integrated system
  • System configuration
  • Operational and maintenance processes
  • User procedures
  • Forms
  • Reports

Configuration data

Objectives of acceptance testing

Acceptance testing, like system testing, typically focuses on the behavior and capabilities of a whole system or product. Objectives of acceptance testing include:

 Establishing confidence in the quality of the system as a whole

 Validating that the system is complete and will work as expected

 Verifying that functional and non-functional behaviors of the system are as specified

Acceptance testing may produce information to assess the system’s readiness for deployment and use by the customer (end-user). Defects may be found during acceptance testing, but finding defects is often not an objective, and finding a significant number of defects during acceptance testing may in some cases be considered a major project risk. Acceptance testing may also satisfy legal or regulatory requirements or standards.

Common forms of acceptance testing include the following:

 User acceptance testing

 Operational acceptance testing

 Contractual and regulatory acceptance testing

 Alpha and beta testing.

Each is described in the following four subsections.

User acceptance testing (UAT)

User acceptance testing of the system is typically focused on validating the fitness for use of the system by intended users in a real or simulated operational environment. The main objective is building confidence that the users can use the system to meet their needs, fulfill requirements, and perform business processes with minimum difficulty, cost, and risk.

Operational acceptance testing (OAT)

The acceptance testing of the system by operations or systems administration staff is usually performed in a (simulated) production environment. The tests focus on operational aspects, and may include:

 Testing of backup and restore

 Installing, uninstalling and upgrading

 Disaster recovery

 User management

 Maintenance tasks

Data load and migration tasks

 Checks for security vulnerabilities

 Performance testing

The main objective of operational acceptance testing is building confidence that the operators or system administrators can keep the system working properly for the users in the operational environment, even under exceptional or difficult conditions.

Contractual and regulatory acceptance testing

Contractual acceptance testing is performed against a contract’s acceptance criteria for producing custom-developed software. Acceptance criteria should be defined when the parties agree to the contract. Contractual acceptance testing is often performed by users or by independent testers.

Regulatory acceptance testing is performed against any regulations that must be adhered to, such as government, legal, or safety regulations. Regulatory acceptance testing is often performed by users or by independent testers, sometimes with the results being witnessed or audited by regulatory agencies.

The main objective of contractual and regulatory acceptance testing is building confidence that contractual or regulatory compliance has been achieved.

Alpha and beta testing

Alpha and beta testing are typically used by developers of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software who want to get feedback from potential or existing users, customers, and/or operators before the software product is put on the market. Alpha testing is performed at the developing organization’s site, not by the development team, but by potential or existing customers, and/or operators or an independent test team.

Beta testing is performed by potential or existing customers, and/or operators at their own locations. Beta testing may come after alpha testing, or may occur without any preceding alpha testing having occurred.

One objective of alpha and beta testing is building confidence among potential or existing customers, and/or operators that they can use the system under normal, everyday conditions, and in the operational environment(s) to achieve their objectives with minimum difficulty, cost, and risk. Another objective may be the detection of defects related to the conditions and environment(s) in which the system will be used, especially when those conditions and environment(s) are difficult to replicate by the development team.

Test basis

Examples of work products that can be used as a test basis for any form of acceptance testing include:

 Business processes

 User or business requirements

 Regulations, legal contracts and standards

 Use cases and/or user stories

 System requirements

 System or user documentation

 Installation procedures

 Risk analysis reports

In addition, as a test basis for deriving test cases for operational acceptance testing, one or more of the following work products can be used:

 Backup and restore procedures

 Disaster recovery procedures

 Non-functional requirements

 Operations documentation

 Deployment and installation instructions

 Performance targets

 Database packages

 Security standards or regulations

Typical test objects

Typical test objects for any form of acceptance testing include:

 System under test

 System configuration and configuration data

 Business processes for a fully integrated system

 Recovery systems and hot sites (for business continuity and disaster recovery testing)

 Operational and maintenance processes

 Forms

 Reports

 Existing and converted production data

Typical defects and failures

Examples of typical defects for any form of acceptance testing include:

 System workflows do not meet business or user requirements

 Business rules are not implemented correctly

 System does not satisfy contractual or regulatory requirements

 Non-functional failures such as security vulnerabilities, inadequate performance efficiency under high loads, or improper operation on a supported platform

Specific approaches and responsibilities

Acceptance testing is often the responsibility of the customers, business users, product owners, or operators of a system, and other stakeholders may be involved as well.

Acceptance testing is often thought of as the last test level in a sequential development life-cycle, but it may also occur at other times, for example:

 Acceptance testing of a COTS software product may occur when it is installed or integrated

 Acceptance testing of a new functional enhancement may occur before system testing

In iterative development, project teams can employ various forms of acceptance testing during and at the end of each iteration, such as those focused on verifying a new feature against its acceptance criteria and those focused on validating that a new feature satisfies the users’ needs. In addition, alpha tests and beta tests may occur, either at the end of each iteration, after the completion of each iteration, or after a series of iterations. User acceptance tests, operational acceptance tests, regulatory acceptance tests, and contractual acceptance tests also may occur, either at the close of each iteration, after the completion of each iteration, or after a series of iterations.