Tasty Biscuits for User Acceptance Testing

Biscuits. The answer is biscuits

On hearing that word I was reminded of the endearing broadcasts and interviews with Jess Thom, a lovely lady who spoke about Tourettes syndrome. Her inspiring frankness and humour helped me gain a sympathetic understanding of some of the challenges associated with that condition. If you don’t know it, Google it and be prepared to smile and at the same time be grateful. It is an interesting lesson in embracing something unusual and “awkward”, rather than lowering one’s gaze and hiding from it. But this time the word was offered as a solution to a different problem.

Now dear USA based friends, when I say “biscuits” please read “cookies”. I have had a long debate on this before and I understand that your biscuits are completely different from UK biscuits and Not long ago I hosted   a round table discussion  in London last week on the subject of User Acceptance Testing. It was a busy table with chairs stacked two deep in places in what turned out to be a vocal and interesting session. We talked about a number of challenges and circumstances associated with organising and executing UAT, as well as the occasional solution:-


Challenges…

•Getting time from the users and getting them involved
•Providing testing training to people who are not experienced in testing
•Sharing the load across the team
•The importance of having an engaged business sponsor
•The difficulties when effort is required to support another business area when there is “nothing in it for me”
•Understanding exactly what was done, or not done in the testing
•Tying results and tests back to the requirements
•Having to repeat tests in multiple cycles

Solutions…
•Early planning and visibility of who will be needed when, for what
•Highlighting the business reasons, reminding everyone of the importance and value it brings
•Using technology to enhance collaboration and share data, including chat – especially if distributed teams
•If you can, get people in the same room
•Provide clear, real-time, visible planning and progress
•Use tools to capture what was done and issues
•Use automation where possible on repeated cycles
•Biscuits (yes, yes, cookies if you prefer)

I’m afraid I didn’t catch the name of the person who offered the “biscuits” solution, so if you see this please chip in and take the credit. But to her it represented a simple way of helping provide motivation to the team, building a team spirit to solve a shared problem and break down the barrier that can sometimes exist between those in IT who believe that testing a business system (especially those ERPs and cloud solutions that are black boxes to IT) is a business problem. Whereas the users just see it as an IT system they have to use, rather than being tenants of their own system with IT as the landlord.

I have no data on exactly what type of biscuit/cookie is needed, perhaps that is a question for the users? Or what the reward allocation protocol is. A completed test case? Issue found? Just turning up?

So maybe you have the answers to these supplementary questions…

Interestingly, I have also found you cannot run a successful sailing course without biscuits either. I wonder what other uses this simple panacea (no, not a panna cotta, that’s a pudding!) might be put to?

George Wilson SVP Original Software

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