UAT (user acceptance testing) is often the final activity that takes place in a software development project. Typically, a group of system users will test to ensure all works as expected and there are no missed defects. The users are usually non technical, they are actual users of the product in production. For example, a new code change to a POS system might need a cashier to perform some of the user acceptance testing.

Unlike traditional waterfall projects, Agile methods delivers software in iterative chunks. The Scrum framework develops production ready software in 2-4 week increments (sprints). Each sprint ends with a demo or review with the customer to ensure the product is right. The stakeholders are heavily engaged during the software development process.

This leaves us to beg the question, is UAT required in the Agile world? As someone who spent many years as a software tester before working as a Scrum Master, here’s my take. For most projects I think there is tremendous value in having the product users do some testing. In Agile this may look a little different because you won’t have a UAT phase, but the principle is the same. Let the actual users of the product give a test run before you ship to production.

Could you imagine if Boeing put planes into production before pilots performed test flights? I don’t think you’d ever hear Boeing say, “our QA signed off, but we never had actual pilots do any testing”.  Of course not. The same concept should hold true for most software development projects.

In the Agile world, users can perform their UAT scenarios during the Agile sprints. The users can partner with the dev and QA resources for help and guidance.

Now, here’s the caveat. There are some occasions where UAT may not be required. It’s up to the team and project to make those decisions. For minor enhancements and defect fixes, etc, product demos alone may be enough. For more complex software projects, I think you’d be well advised to not forgo the value of UAT. What do you think?

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