The two-headed, three-armed beast is slain. (See my previous post if you don’t get this reference.)

An interesting question arose the week before we began UAT. How do we decide when UAT is done?

There were several proposed answers to this.

  • When all the test cases pass.
  • When there are no open issues remaining.
  • When there are no critical open issues remaining.

Or, my personal favorite:

  • Starting Friday afternoon, put all the VPs in a room and let them decide. Repeat on a daily basis until the VPs all decide we’re done.

Isn’t that a lot like how they select the pope?

I pulled a page from agile (at least, from my book on agile) for the answer to this:

UAT is done when the users say they can and will begin using the delivered product in their daily work.

Sometimes I earn my pay. And sometimes people even listen to me.

UAT lumbered along for four weeks as the PM reported daily progress against existing issues and the new issues that had been uncovered. The users regularly said “it’s getting closer but we can’t trust the data yet.”

Sometimes things work out just about right – and this was one of those times. When it was clear things weren’t going according to plan, everyone ignored the arbitrary deadline. No one pushed the users to accept a deliverable that made them uncomfortable. The users and the team, meanwhile, communicated meaningful status on a daily basis. Everyone agreed on the goal, and could sense whether we were moving toward or away from that goal.

Finally, earlier this week, we got the word: “We’re ready to use it. UAT is over. And here’s the three things that still need to be resolved in a follow-up release.”

Again, the way it should be. I know there are sound reasons why you cannot always let users decide when they are ready to accept the delivered product and end UAT, but everything goes so much smoother when you can.

One Response to “More Adventures in UAT: The User Decides When it’s Done”
  1. I think the way the pope is selected is a very effective one (even if nowadays, the circumstances aren’t as tough as they were some centuries ago).

    Where I come from (Vorarlberg, a state of Austria that is) there is a small town where they had a very similar system: Bezegg.

    The townhall was built on story-high columns, had windows to all sides but only a trap door in the bottom, where you had to use a ladder got get in and out of the building.
    This ladder was removed as soon as the gatherings started and was only put back when the goal of the session was achieved.

    I guess a lot of meetings would last considerably less long if similar means would be applied. I plead for beer only and no toilets ;-)

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