Posted on: Thursday January 09th, 2014

Author: Kate

Testing and training. These processes are a vital component of any successful software implementation, however time and again I’ve noticed that businesses are not planning properly for this stage.

The end result?

  • Staff who don’t know what they are doing
  • Management who don’t get the results or information they need
  • Business owners who believe they haven’t received a decent return on their investment dollar

Kilmanjaro’s methodology calls for a dedicated period of User Acceptance Testing and Training (UAT&T); but how should these critical tasks be approached? And who should be given responsibility?

When designing the UAT&T phase for your own implementation you should consider:

  • The testing approach should be planned when the system is being designed.
  • Approximately 20% of a project’s total budget should be dedicated to testing and training.
  • Resources must be allocated to ensure that the testing process is carried out properly.
  • Training is not testing – testing should be carried out by key users across multiple scenarios before providing training to the rest of the team.
  • Documentation is key to ensure end users know what is required.
  • A Project Champion who has a detailed understanding of your business processes and requirements is essential.

So think of your new EXO system as a brand new 4WD, with some performance enhancing features such as a super-charger and a lift kit. When the EXO system is handed over to you for UAT&T, the Project Champion becomes the driver and in full control. Your implementer should be seen as the navigator, providing guidance in terms of direction and approach however still leaving the driver to make final decisions in terms of which gear to use, when to brake and at what speed to take the corners.

If you had just received a shiny new 4WD you wouldn’t run it at full speed around a rally track straight away, would you? You would want to take the first few runs slowly, checking every aspect of performance such as braking, acceleration, gear ratios and steering as well as the extra features such as the super-charger! And only once you have fully tested the new car would you allow others behind the wheel!

As the designated test driver, your Project Champion may have little or no experience with software implementation and is often left with insufficient knowledge and resources to complete the task properly.

With this in mind the following may assist Project Champions to prepare an approach to UAT&T:

  • Consider how to address any potential change management issues.
  • Review the System Design Document and identify all the key processes that require testing.  Ideally these are based on user behaviours / stories which provide specific scenarios and how they have been addressed by the system design. You should specify:
    • The situation (Payment to a foreign currency supplier)
    • What the user does in this situation (Use single creditor payment)
    • The outcome / output  (Payment value appears correctly in the suppliers account and the correct $AUD (local) value appears in the appropriate bank account)

    This is sometimes known as the Given – When – Then (Gherkin) model.

  • Formulate a testing plan that involves key users of the system and advise management of this plan so that resources can be allocated accordingly.
  • Utilise the UAT Checklist provided by your implementer to check that you have tested all standard as well as custom processes.
  • Communicate testing outcomes / issues to your implementer via the UAT register.
  • Once issues highlighted through testing have been resolved, train the end users in the new processes.
  • Check that your end users continue their training with some ongoing work following any formal sessions that you have run.

Once your system has been fully tested and all users trained, you can move into the Go Live phase confident of a smooth transition for your business. But remember, this can only happen with a well-designed UAT&T Plan; so in closing, remember the words of Benjamin Franklin –  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.