Your users are your best testers, but they come at a price

27 June 2023 | 15 Shares

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The first version of any new piece of software is the result of a collective effort. It’s the product of work by developers alongside end-users (whose ‘itch is being scratched’), software testers, operational staff who provision resources, and a smattering of cybersecurity and data officer types to ensure safety and data legality.

At every subsequent iteration of software, the working processes of a system’s users need to be scrutinized in the context of the new improvement or feature: how will it affect what they do, does it solve problems or create new ones, and does it make users more efficient (and happier)?

In an ideal world, any change in an organization’s software stack would be tested rigorously by forming a subset of those original players (application developers, end-users, security officers et al.). That would be a collaborative community of stakeholders and experts to make sure that the software that runs the organization stays fully roadworthy.

But that’s clearly not practical, especially given that every element of a complex software landscape is moving pretty much constantly: point upgrades to the ERP, background updates to SaaS apps, breaking changes masquerading as API ‘improvements,’ and so on. Pulling end-users away from their desks every other day isn’t possible, and pro QA testers don’t have the essential line-of-business experience.

To prioritize everyone’s valuable time, a streamlined UAT approach should involve collaboration between all key stakeholders, ensuring thorough testing and software integrity while minimizing disruption to daily tasks.


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The double cost of end-users

Of particular interest to developers and testing managers are the end-users. The million-dollar question is how to maximize their input into the testing process yet eat up as little of their time as possible. Their essential presence comes at a double cost: their salary gets paid whether or not they’re doing their day jobs. And if they’re not at their desks, the organization is losing the value they produce, too.

The answer lies in specialist software. In a previous article we looked at the Original Software platform’s capabilities from a technical perspective. We considered automated regression testing and the need to test any software change throughout the stack because – Murphy’s law being in full effect – if anything can go wrong, it will, and usually in the least-expected quarter.

Original Software’s offerings maximize every minute that end-users have to spend away from their desks, spent testing updated or new software. The technology does this in several ways:

– users simply ‘do their jobs,’ and every keystroke and mouse click is recorded. There are no problems, therefore, with recreating any bugs or the context in which bugs occurred,

– users (or anyone else) can mark up the recorded actions, highlighting and commenting on issues,

– testing encompasses the full workflow: multiple applications in simultaneous use by ‘live’ users,

– the test environment can easily form the basis of training materials and product documentation,

– the same platform is where all the teams involved can collaborate, exchange notes, see the effects of their changes, and create at least the beginnings of those training materials and how-to videos,

– deep, end-to-end testing is carried out by automated systems that operate from a no-code library of tests built on the fly (see our previous article on this feature).

At all times, the end-user who’s seconded to run some software tests has a frictionless as possible experience. Rather than having to be trained in the language and processes of the professional QA tester, end-users just experience what they would during the course of their working day. That means tests are fast, easy, and fully practical.


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(Not) learning the language

Conversely, developers and infrastructure engineers can replicate problems verbatim without having to find and cross-question testers. Scenarios are quick to reproduce and problem-solve in reproduce-able environments, and iterative testing can be automated.

UK brewer Marstons’ Test Manager, Judy Doust, summed up her experiences with Original Software’s platform: “The software proved very easy for our people to understand and use. Out of 100 users, I think I only had about six calls for help.”

With an organization’s software portfolio in what’s effectively a constant state of flux, making the testing process for new features and changes as simple yet comprehensive as possible means that costs are kept to a minimum. Every moment a stakeholder is kept away from their ‘day job’ has to be maximized for its fullest value, and it’s simply not possible for that to happen without dedicated tooling.

The Original Software suite ensures user acceptance testing provides better value in multiple ways, centered around a central point of collaboration. That central instance of information means no time is wasted following email chains, filling out shared Excel documents, or in the back-and-forth of developer-to-end-user clarifications. Comprehensive user acceptance testing is a collaborative effort that needs a collaborative approach, one that’s not just another resource sink.

Learn how your most important and ever-evolving business applications will continue to bring value, whether they’re on-premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid configuration: Contact Original Software to get to know the possibilities.