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ITSM Implementation: Why ‘Herding The Cats’ For UAT Can Be Crucial

As most things in life, the UAT starts with a “What” and a “Why”.

By Robert Hall, Support Analyst, Marval Software

 

What is User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and why should we bother with it? Well, User Acceptance Testing is the last phase of a software testing process. During UAT, actual users test the solution to make sure it can handle required tasks in real-world scenarios, according to certain criteria.

It is in everyone’s interest to carry this out, but often there is a conflict with time; time required from the users, from the Implementation Team, from external consultants, from the Service Desk Team or any stakeholders and sponsors. Everyone has their part to play and they are all accountable to the Project Sponsors and the Project Manager.

The scope for time creep is high, users must be drafted in from their day-to-day work, the external consultants may not be available every day, and the Service Desk Team may have to fit extra work in to prepare test environments, restore databases and ensure the UAT environment is available. The Implementation Team may also be drafted in from other duties. And it is the Project Manager and Sponsors who have the difficult task of herding all these cats towards a satisfactory outcome.

Difficult because not everyone can appreciate how significant their contribution is. But it is in the interest of all of these people to play their part:

·         Project Managers and Sponsors, usually either part of or closely linked to Upper Management, have the task of providing the leadership necessary to complete the project. They work with the Implementation Team who understand how the new software fits into the organisation.

·         Service Desks schedule the set up and configuration of the new software.

·         External Consultants are often brought in for their experience with the new software, but their time is expensive, so are usually used for a number of days which are agreed at the start of the project.

·         Users (the ones who will be the eventual users of the new software, so they have to be satisfied with the screens and processes) can be a difficult group to work with, especially because they often have a similar job to carry out on the old software package.

So where does it go wrong? I am listing some common reasons for failures:

·         So often companies underestimate the time required for all these actions, or the teams fail to make the necessary time to carry out the extra duties, or are reluctant to do so.

·         Sometimes the project reveals problems that have simply not been scoped in to the task - and days can be spent toing and froing between the Project Manager and the Reseller while reworked plans are made (that’s why it is crucial to work with an experienced provider, who will help you develop a realistic and sensible plan).

·         Sometimes the wrong people are put in place, who do not have the required skills but were selected only because they were available.

·         Having a too aggressive timeline can make fitting the task in impossible; we are only human after all!

·         Relying on project software too heavily instead of regular meetings face-to-face to ensure the project is still on target, which could jeopardise the outcome.

·         There also needs to be a clear lead from Senior Management or the plan can fall apart.

While all these reasons are valid and well-founded, UAT must be carried out to avoid failures to deliver on time or within budget. To reduce potential failures, keep all stakeholders informed about the scope of the project and any anticipated benefits, for them and for the organisation as well. Emphasise on the importance of their contribution, explain what they are expected to do and agree on the timeframe. Make sure you have the senior management’s active involvement; it’s important that everyone understands that your new ITSM solution is not “just a new software”, but a new way of doing things that can positively affect your organisation’s most crucial metrics and KPIs.

It’s also important for organisations to work closely with their provider so that any particular challenges and obstacles are taken into consideration and the implementation plan is developed in a way that caters for the stakeholders’ needs.

A UAT will help ensure the successful implementation of your ITSM solution. Find an ITSM consultant with experience and proven record of successful implementations; provide them with a detailed description of your requirements and trust them to manage the project and deliver the best result for your organisation, on time and on budget.

 

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