Out with the UAT!

By Sanooj Kutty posted 11-02-2011 07:05


Its long been more than a decade of software project deliveries for me and over the period it has been punctured with many a UAT. If I were to honestly rate failure-to-success ratios with UAT over the first attempt, it would stand at 95%-5%!

That’s how difficult it is to get a UAT right the first time round. Either it must be me or it must be in the entire concept of UAT or its practice. And when you make it an ECM or a BPM UAT, it goes from bad to worse. I mean how can you get it right with solutions that aim to bring structure to a spontaneous practice ?

Giving due to credit to my hardly invisible narcissistic nature, the fault can’t lie with me and must be with the concept of UAT. And I truly believe the User Acceptance Test is a rearguard safety feature similar to those with a parachute for both business and IT.

I mean, how many professionals does it take to send out a clear message that “I don’t know what I wanted in the first place” and “I don’t know if I built what you didn’t know you wanted in the first place”. 

It is time the concept of UAT was made redundant as it definitely has not shown any signs of clear improvement over the years and across different businesses and technologies.

So, what if we simply eliminate the UAT? How would we verify if business got what they asked for and if IT delivered what was asked for?

Well, why would you spend time building something if you didn’t know what was being asked for? Would you build a Burj Khalifa or an Empire State Building and then ask if this was what you wanted in the first place? Of course not!

Just because Information Technology provides one with flexibility does not mean it must be abused by making it go through a trial and run exercise every time. I have always believed there is a lot to learn from those masters of the project management  - The Construction Industry. They too start from an idea to a visualization to a blueprint to delivery. Yet, once built, they do performance tests and not go back to the drawing board to add another floor to a foundation that was not built for it in the first place.

In the domains of ECM and BPM, it is time the UAT was made extinct. The business gets to place its requirement in a clear and crisp form and then IT delivers it to the dot. No User tests, only performance and integration tests!

Thus, enforcing Business to ensure they are sure of what they ask for and enforcing IT to ensure they deliver what was explicitly asked. If I ask for a Spicy McChicken, please don’t serve me a Double Mac!

Of course, this will be a challenge in the initial period, however, over time, Business and IT will find that balance to make sure both of them have a smooth ride. Its like marriage, the beginning can be tough, but through continuous interaction and communication, the vibes get better and life gains rhythm. Coming from an Asian culture, where in most societies, divorce is considered taboo, the husband and wife find a way to live and love each other.

For Business and IT to come closer, one must bring forth a certain enforcement and getting rid of the UAT is my recommended Small Step and Giant Leap, 2-in-1!!

Originally published in The Information Manager

#ProjectManagement #testing #ECM #UserAcceptanceTest #UAT #project #EnterpriseContentManagement #BusinessProcessManagement #BPM