What is a UAT Environment in Software Testing — The Complete Guide
What is UAT?
UAT stands for User Acceptance Test. For software testing, the UAT environment is a final step in the testing process that ensures the application meets customer requirements and expectations. Having a separate UAT environment helps ensure quality and control software development costs.
A UAT environment also provides the opportunity for customers to evaluate working software without having to test it on production. UAT environments provide a pre-release place to validate business requirements and objectives without interfering with development, or waiting for the code to be deployed on production.
What is a UAT Environment?
The UAT test environment is an exact duplicate of production. Test code is not deployed into it for bug fixes or new user stories. The only code that’s deployed to UAT is a final release code version. The UAT environment intends to provide end users the ability to test in a production-like environment.
The UAT environment contains only code already tested by QA and development. The UAT environment does not receive any code deployments that are not final release candidate builds. By keeping the UAT environment pristine, UAT testers and end users are assured a truly realistic application experience
Why do we need a UAT environment?
The UAT environment needs to be separate and unique because it must mimic the real world as closely as possible for user acceptance testing. Test data needs to simulate production or live data. In the same way, the backend processes and connections need to be fully functional. It’s important that a UAT environment truly mimics the live server. Any differences in configuration, data, or data processing steps including APIs and database connectivity will affect how the application functions.
The UAT environment must be as close to the same as the production server for best results. Performing UAT testing in an exclusive test environment ensures the application features are tested as consumers will interact with and use them. A UAT environment provides a place to perform effective user acceptance testing to ensure the functionality meets the user’s needs.
How do you set up a UAT environment?
Steps to setting up a UAT environment include:
- Creating a separate server instance from development or QA test environments
- Setting up security to match production
- Setting up database, API, and any messaging systems to match production
- Defining who is responsible for code deployment and system management (development or IT)
- Adding the UAT environment to the release deployment process
- Creating user accounts for UAT testers
- Creating test data that mimics the data types and values in production
- Developing a UAT test plan or strategy
- Developing UAT test cases and suites
- Adding the UAT environment to defect tracking tools as an environmental option
- Create a reporting mechanism to analyze UAT testing
Are UAT and the test environment the same thing?
No. UAT is considered a pristine environment because no test or development code exists in it, only pre-release or release builds. The QA or test environment may have multiple code versions or temporary test code for verification purposes.
QA test and development servers are typically unstable. Due to variances in application configuration, settings, and code, these servers must be used for development and QA testing only. Customers and UAT testers should refrain from attempting to test in any other servers due to the developmental nature of the application code.
What is the difference between UAT and a test environment?
Common software development test environment differences include:
UAT environment examples
Having a UAT environment can serve multiple purposes for a software development team.
Example UAT environment uses include:
- Agile team demos for feature validation at release
- Validation testing for regulatory compliance needs
- Internal product management application validation
- Internal product verification of requirements
- Internal review of application state
- External customer validation and acceptance testing
- Sales and marketing demos to prospective clients
- Identifying defects not found during development and QA testing
- Identify application defects not visible until release deployment
UAT environment frameworks
Building a UAT framework includes several steps. The steps to building an effective UAT environment framework include:
- Identify the customers or end users participating in the UAT process
- Develop a UAT test plan that identifies the environment and access details
- Define the UAT deployment process
- Create a copy of production to server as a UAT server instance
- Duplicate security structures
- Duplicate connections including databases, APIs, and messaging systems
- Create users accounts and authentication credentials
- Create test data that mimics production and scrub it to make it generic
- Train UAT testers on reporting defects and issue escalation
- Create all customer-facing documentation available in production
UAT Test Environment Improves Customer Experience
UAT testing is vital to ensure applications meet customer needs effectively. UAT not only allows customers to verify requirements but also test to ensure the application functions in a way that meets the business objectives.
For development, having a UAT environment provides a handy release code reference. Developers and QA testers can use UAT to simulate production-level functionality without having to access production. Product managers and UI/UX design team members also benefit from using UAT to verify application functionality.
Creating a UAT environment that duplicates production as exactly as possible is critical. The UAT environment must be controlled so that only releasable code versions are deployed. Leave the test code on the development or QA servers. UAT must be kept pristine and stable for customer testing, customer demos, and validation testing. Create a UAT environment that increases your application’s customer experience by identifying defects in the release code.