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Obtaining Business Commitment for Testing

written by: Bob Legrand • edited by: Jean Scheid • updated: 12/31/2012

How do we get commitment from the employees who will have to work with the new product? Should we involve them in every step of the development process or should we keep them on the sideline? In this article we try to show what we should and what we should not do.

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    The attitude

    Everyone in the organization agrees that testing is very important for the quality of a new or modified application. However, when it comes to involving the business in the user acceptance test it is hard to get much support from the same business that has to accept it. They are the ones who will have to work with the product. This often motivates project managers to involve the business in an early stage of the testing. So often dedicated testers are replaced by people from the organization who have little time (since “business as usual” is priority one) and little testing knowledge. What they do have though is knowledge of the business processes. That of course is important for the creation of test cases that make any sense.

    The eager project manager often overrules the test manager (and often the test manager agrees with the project manager on this) and decides that after a first delivery of the product the business should already be involved in testing. What happens is that when the business sees it doesn’t work (which is usually the case after a first delivery) commitment for the testing and for the product itself decreases.

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    The solutions

    The only way to get business commitment is to deliver a working system. So the business should only be involved in the user acceptance testing, the last testing phase before the production acceptance and implementation. When the people in the organization see that the product actually works, then they will become enthusiastic. However, to get business commitment we need more.

    As we said the business knows the processes. So the business should be involved in setting up the requirements. That way their knowledge is used in a constructive way plus they are involved. It is important to get the knowledge of the current processes clear to be able to improve them.

    In projects in which realization and testing is done in an isolated team, that has little contact with the business, the business complains that “we know they are doing something but we don’t know what”. That is not a desirable situation either. Therefore it is a good idea for the project manager to give a presentation to the business a couple of times during the project of what has been done and what is to be expected. The project team would stay in contact with the business and could use the feedback from the business to adjust the course of the project in the right direction.

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    The tests

    Now how to involve the business people during the user acceptance test itself? Rarely these business testers prepared these tests. Would have been nice if they had but “business as usual” is priority one, so there is no time. Still they are responsible for the formal acceptance of the product after the UAT. If they only test their “business as usual” the product will not be tested properly, since it contains new functionality. What I usually do is use the most important test cases from the functional acceptance test and use various examples from the business to make the logical test cases physical. That would be the basic test script. Subsequently we ask the business testers to also do tests that they think are important, if they are not in the test script. Of course they would have to document what they do outside of the test script that was provided for them. Usually the test script inspires them to come up with tests for themselves, which would not have happened without the script. That way they become seriously involved in the testing process.

    This article is based on the book "Q-Course Quality & Organization", see

Quality Management

In the articles that you will find in this series quality management and testing is described. Since quality management and testing are a vital part of project management they deserve their own group.
  1. Organization of UML Diagrams and Testing
  2. Chain Testing is Risky Business
  3. Should We Redefine the Role of Testing?
  4. Obtaining Business Commitment for Testing