Halve your testing costs by fixing user acceptance testing (UAT)

All indications are pointing to a recession looming. Again.

We all know what that means: time to look for cost savings, wherever we can. The leaner you can operate, the better chance you have of preserving initiatives that are crucial to the success of the organization, or of avoiding redundancies which can sap morale and take vital talent out of your business.

In this blog, we want to let you know about an area of your IT operation where you could potentially make some drastic savings, that you may not have thought about before. That, of course, is your software testing processes – specifically, your UAT process.

How much is UAT costing me right now?

This is a difficult question to answer beyond “more than it should.” The reason is that the main cost of UAT comes from the business users who are engaged in the testing; every hour they spend testing is an hour they aren’t spending on the business, which costs. So, if you’re running a large-scale test involving hundreds of users, the cost could be enormous. If you’re running a smaller-scale test, then the cost might be smaller – though if you are working with a highly skilled set of business users (such as lawyers) then costs may remain high.

What’s important to know is that, for most organizations, UAT is a very slow and inefficient process at present. It’s managed through emails, spreadsheets, and screenshots. Because of this, data can often get missed, or misinterpreted – sometimes entire tests can be forgotten about if they are lost in the press – and all these things mean that you need to use more of your business users’ time to complete testing.

It’s also worth considering that, in the very near future (if not already), your testing costs could spiral out of control. As more of your key applications such as ERP move to the cloud, you’ll have to deal with more frequent updates for systems that touch nearly every user, meaning the volume of UAT you do will increase rapidly – and that you’ll need more of your business users’ time, costing your organization more.

How can I reduce the cost of UAT?

In a nutshell, anything you can do to reduce the amount of time you need your business users for will make a difference to the cost of UAT. Activities you can do to limit the amount of time you need them for include:

Automating where possible.

Obviously, you can never eliminate users entirely from your testing process –but a study from Original Software found that just 4% of UAT is currently automated, so there is plainly room for improvement.

Making tests simpler.

The more confusing or unclear a test is, the more time it will take to complete. Making each test as clear as possible – and as quick as possible – will help.

Improving how feedback is handled.

Feedback is a major headache for those administering UAT. Often feedback is vague, requiring follow-ups that add more time on to the process. Making the feedback process uniform and precise will provide meaningful information for developers and test administrators, saving time.

Organizing tests better.

When tests are managed through spreadsheets and emails, it’s easy for some to get missed, or for delays to happen when sending tests to users. If you can arrange things so that each business user gets all their tests in one batch, they can focus their time and get them done quicker.

"We easily reduced the burden on the business users by 25-35%"

Lori Andrade, Senior Business Analyst, Information Technology

Protect yourself from knock-on costs too

By improving your UAT processes, you stand to not only make significant cost savings in the testing process itself, but you can prevent additional costs further down the line. The most obvious here is the cost of the business being unable to operate – the gravest consequence of bugs making it through UAT. The better your testing process, the less chance there is of bugs making into your production environment and derailing the business. Given that there are several high-profile examples of companies losing millions or billions in lost revenue and share prices due to bugs like this, that cost saving is well worth considering!

Fixing bugs in a live environment is costly too, even if the bugs in question don’t bring the business down. Reducing the instances of those bugs will reduce the costs of debugging, and could make your entire development process more cost-effective.

Obviously, for the reasons stated above, it’s hard to put an exact number on the savings you could make improving your UAT. However, we can share that one of our customers saved more than $270,000 in a year by reducing testing time by 95% thanks to a robust UAT process. Another customer estimated that they had reduced the burden on their business users by 25 to 35%; you can obviously make those calculations based on your own business users.

Hopefully this gives you some fresh optimism as you look at the balance sheet for your IT operations. It’s only one part of the puzzle when it comes to cost-cutting, we know, but hopefully, it’s a bigger part than you may have expected – and one that brings a host of other benefits too.

If you’d like to learn more about our UAT solution and how it can support your testing operations, click here to visit our landing page.

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