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Where does implementation fail? User acceptance testing
10 May 2017, by , in Data Management, 2 comments

I’m often asked by my clients, “What’s the single most important success factor during system implementation?” That answer is easy: user acceptance testing.

What is user acceptance testing (UAT)? UAT is when the association staff tests the software to determine if it is behaving in a manner the staff expects it to. Put simply: Is the software working the way we want it to, and if not, what can we do to fix it?

I think staff often views UAT as “bug testing.” And while finding bugs IS one of the elements of UAT, it is not the only thing UAT is about.

Among other things, UAT is staff’s opportunity, prior to go live, to really experience how the system manages important everyday processes like membership joins and renewals, event registrations, donations, exhibit sales, and so on. Getting the full experience of using the system, including how testing the customer experience on your website, provides staff the opportunity to give feedback on how the system is set up, what parts are working well versus which seem overly cumbersome, and which queries and reports are working or need more development. This feedback can then be used by the vendor to fix or improve any areas requiring attention. All before the system goes live.

As I often say, when it comes to testing, either you will test it, or your customers will. So you might as well do it before they do!

 

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2 Comments on "Where does implementation fail? User acceptance testing"

Karen Hansen - 10 May 2017 Reply

I'm implementing a new AMS right now and plan to have my staff explore everything well before it's live, but I'm struggling with how to do testing at scale, especially for things like reporting. Do we import a bunch of test data to run reports on and then clear it out before going live? What about reports that rely on data accumulated over time, like transactions?

Wes Trochlil - 11 May 2017 Reply

Good question, Karen. Re: reporting testing, yes, import test data sets and run the reports against them. For transactions you may have to enter bogus transactions to test that and them have those wiped out. Depending on which vendor/product you're using, this might be easy or it might be difficult!

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

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National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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