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Driving down Risk in User Acceptance Testing

A practical guide to navigating UAT

Date: 26/08/2020
Reaching the point of User Acceptance Testing signals a major project milestone, but you risk derailing your success almost instantly unless you proactively manage your testing strategy well in advance. Embarking on a journey of a collaborative approach to communication between the client and consultants throughout the lifecycle of the project helps to identify evolving client requirements and reveal unknown risk factors. Without it, the reality of the developed solution can be far removed from the user’s perception.

At PMsquare, our consultants work to reduce this risk from the beginning of the project lifecycle. This is achieved by showcasing iterative designs and builds and supporting functional testing throughout the development phase. By collaborating with our clients our consultants demonstrate how user requirements can be quickly translated into functional software.

Functional testing at this stage is only the beginning of the testing cycle. Our consultants continue to provide our clients guidance and governance throughout the UAT phase to support the rigors of acceptance testing. This ensures the solution is production ready, is capable to deliver in a live environment and achieves our client’s goals.

Adopting the PMsquare Approach

If you scrutinise a work plan, UAT will be the longest stand-alone project task. And just like any other task that spans multiple weeks, it pays to break it down into manageable parts. At PMsquare we recommend mapping out three key phases: Prepare, Execute and Close.


To achieve success, you need to understand your goals and the journey you need to take to get you there. The Prepare phase defines every possible route that can take you to your destination. Key things to include are:

  • What’s your entry criteria? Brainstorm the following factors: technical, functional, environmental, physical and human. At a minimum you should consider users, computers, system credentials, network access, communication platforms, support processes, business scenarios and test packs.
  • What’s your exit criteria? Put simply, what does a successful UAT phase look like for you?  Whatever you define here determines your benchmark for approving UAT. There should be no room for ambiguity. Specify key performance indicators and their metrics. For example:
    • Percentage of test case scenarios executed above 90%
    • Percentage of test case scenario passed above 95%
    • Acceptable tolerance of major issues less than 5%
    • Acceptable tolerance of minor issues less than 20%
  • What’s your execution plan? Many companies require their users to conduct UAT parallel to their day-to-day activities. You’ll need a plan to manage their time. Users doing testing need to know their objectives, their specific test scenarios, who is doing what and when they should be doing it.
  • What’s your process? Define how users engage with the project teams.  Communicate how users log bugs and how the fixing cycle works. How often will users be updated to retest fixes, how are fixes approved?
  • What’s your scope?  Before you start, ringfence your scope for testing, otherwise timelines will slip. Include a change freeze period throughout UAT. Be clear that any changes raised during UAT will not be implemented until after go-live. And, if a change is worth implementing, UAT needs to be stopped so that you can ensure a full testing cycle is completed.  


With all that preparation, surely execution should be simple? Not quite. Regular reviews help identify and clear potential roadblocks when things don’t go to plan.

Communication is essential. PMsquare consultants help you navigate the road ahead and are an active participant throughout your journey. As your trusted advisor we support you on progress reviews, issue resolution and monitoring of timelines. This allows you to keep an eye on your risks and track your progress against your exit criteria.


Getting to this stage is a milestone achievement for any project. But having reached your destination, don’t be tempted to ignore the journey that got you there.

  • Reflect – How did you go? Were there any surprises? Run a focus session on what went well and where there’s room for improvement.
  • Onward journey – Look forward and review any outstanding issues with your users. Seek feedback, clarify any additional requirements and a timeline for any fixes. Then communicate all of this in a roadmap for your users.

PMsquare can help you achieve UAT success.  By implementing our proven and repeatable methodology we keep our clients in the driving seat by helping you navigate this critical phase.

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