What’s the “U” in UAT stand for?

I always thought UAT was User Acceptance Tests, but apparently this has changed over the past couple of decades.

The idea behind UAT is that actual, real-life users of the application would test it after it came out of development and “QA.”  Real users know what they want from the system and how they’ll use it.  Ideally, they would write scenarios early on and be ready to test them when the software was delivered, usually in a staging environment.  Smart testers would review the UAT team’s test cases, to make sure they – the testers – hadn’t missed anything.  Testers might offer to help the users write test cases – showing them a particular format, making sure the steps and expected results are clearly documented, etc.

But in the past few years, testers are now expected to write UAT test cases and execute them.  This defeats the purpose of UAT.  This is not UAT, it’s TAT – Tester Acceptance Tests.  This is like sending someone to take a test drive in a new car you want to buy, instead of taking the test drive yourself.  A lot of risk opens up.  I would definitely recommend this Yugo.

I have no problem with testers helping the UAT team write the test cases, showing good formats and collaborating with them to make sure nothing is missed (this assumes the testers know more than the users which is rarely the case).  But when UAT is solely the domain of testers, we’ve got a problem.

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