Sonoma Partners Microsoft CRM and Salesforce Blog

The 10 Benefits of User Acceptance Testing

Today's blog post was written by Brian Kasic, Principal Consultant at Sonoma Partners.

My project team recently had an in-person User Acceptance Testing (“UAT”). 25 team members from across the country gathered in Boston for testing. The teams were hesitant to start the official user testing of a custom-built CRM application for a banking real-estate investment and tax credit process but a decision was made that the benefits outweighed the risk of “not being ready” for this week-long event to test the CRM application that has in the works for over a year. Just like any tough project, the feeling of “not being ready” can flow through one’s psyche. But project leadership was determined to make it happen. The reward at the end of this week was confidence in the work that has been done, and it made the team realize we were ready to proceed with going live with the CRM system. It also showed other intangible benefits. As a motivating factor, Starbucks coffee was offered to anyone, whenever they wanted it. “Gotta get the coffee! And keep the team testing” kept going through my head as the program manager ultimately responsible for the success or failure of this very important week. Conveniently, we had a Starbucks store at the base of our elevator in our building. We even used their mobile app to get everyone’s orders just the way they wanted them. Thank goodness for technology and mobile apps (see Attendee in AppExchange for one by Sonoma Partners!).

But the main point of this blog is to emphasize the value of User Acceptance Testing and to encourage you to go for it!

Many benefits came out of the testing even though two weeks prior we had many team members saying that they weren’t ready.

Here is a list of the ultimate benefits:

UAT_testing_B.Kasic_blogOpportunity to Collaborate

The team from all over the country was able to ask questions about the project, in person with each other. Being a remotely located team this was valuable face-to-face time with each other.

Focus and Prioritize

We have had a long project and sometimes the little fixes get in the way of what is really most important. For us, we need a minimal viable product for the business team to operate on day 1.

Show the Vision

There is going to be support for our product, post go live, so the small nice to have updates will not be left behind once the project is complete. We will fix any defects right away but understand that most users are primarily engaged once they have to use a new system for their day to day activities. After go live, our team will continue to support the product with the most valuable feedback we receive from our business team.

Check the Data

Data is key and it has to be reliable. Even if the system is not perfect on day 1, we have to be able to trust our data. The legacy system will be “read only” and we will be able to compare and contrast historical reporting. This will be a great way to check that the data in the new system is complete and accurate.

Test Access

I’ve seen too many system go lives where security roles, profiles and access was not what was expected. The key here is to make the access plan transparent to the stakeholders and engage them in testing various profiles, groups and scenarios. Be prepared to have a role that can get anyone through a process on day 1. You don’t want to stop business operations because of an access mistake. Then make the necessary adjustments while always being cautious of granting too much access to sensitive information.

Teach and Train

For many testers, this is a great opportunity to teach them new areas and train them on the overall system. User testing should not be mistaken with training but it is the first step in making sure that the users of the system can assist their peers when questions arise.

Prepare for Go-Live

We talked about our plan at go live and the overall support model. How many team members would need to be “on call”. The process for users to get support. A hotline to ask questions. We discussed team schedules and availability. All important details to plan well in advance of the final weeks of the project. Doing this planning early allows the team to focus on the top priorities and not the logistics during a critical time in the project.

Motivate the Team that the Finish Line is Near

Projects can wear people out, so motivation is important to keep the team going. We continue to ask, “what is in this project for the company and for us as individuals?” We held a team dinner to make sure everyone is feeling appreciated for the efforts and hard work they have given.

Fix the Issues

With all the other benefits of user testing, the main one it to fix issues. At the end of each day the team would hold an hour issue triage call where we could highlight all the issues identified during the day’s testing. During this meeting, we determine who would be on point to fix the issue. Sometimes these were know issues and other times they were newly identified defects that needed immediate attention before continuing testing. Quick turnaround time and visibility to the issues is critical to staying efficient in UAT.

Drink the Coffee

Taking breaks to walk and talk helps lighten the load in a full week of conference room testing. Grabbing coffee shows the team you care and keeps the caffeine level up to keep going. These types of testing weeks can be intense so taking a break and motivating everyone with good treats sure helped!

So when your team is not feeling ready to user test, consider the positives and benefits. After the fact you will be glad that you made it happen. For more guidance on user testing of CRM application, please contact Sonoma Partners.

Topics: CRM Best Practices