Where does implementation fail? User acceptance testing

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!


About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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