What is the difference between QA and UAT?

Quality Assurance and User Acceptance Testing are two very important processes that test related, but different, elements. Though these roles may be defined differently depending on organization, the focus of Quality Assurance is generally to make sure that the product operates within the parameters that were specified by the design documents and desired by the customer. User Acceptance Testing, on the other hand, is intended to make sure that the version of the product that is being provided to the client meets all of their necessary business processes.

The Role of Quality Assurance

At its simplest, quality assurance is designed to ensure that the quality of the end product is up to the client’s standards and specifications. In order to do this, companies create highly complex and controlled business processes, which are designed to continually test the product regarding potential use cases and the customer’s overall needs. Quality Assurance can flow all the way up from basic bug testing and reporting to ensuring that the overall user experience is a positive one. Quality assurance departments need to work very closely with the development team in order to produce a version that suits the current set of specifications.

Quality assurance runs throughout the project; each iteration of the software solution must be re-tested to ensure that it fits the client’s critical needs. Customer stories are often used throughout quality assurance to make sure that the end users who are going to be using the product will be able to fulfill their goals with a minimum of actions; the process must be both intuitive and simple. But in more basic terms, quality assurance is often intended to mitigate any technical issues that could potentially arise.

The Role of User Acceptance Testing

Once quality assurance has been completed on a product, that version is considered to be completed. User Acceptance Testing has a more overarching goal; it’s designed to make sure that the version that the client is currently using is going to be the most advanced model that is still going to meet all of their needs reliably. In this way, some organizations may actually consider User Acceptance Testing a part of Quality Assurance, though Quality Assurance generally comes first and User Acceptance Testing has a more narrow spectrum of goals.

Business testing can be equally as important as quality assurance testing. Quality assurance testing will test a software solution in a very controlled environment; though it can catch any technical faults, it may not be able to determine whether there may be potential business process issues on the client’s side. User acceptance testing provides the valuable role of ensuring that the product actually works appropriately on the field. Thus, it often has a different focus from quality assurance, as the focus may be more towards usability than technical standards and implementation. Usually the same team will implement QA testing and UAT, but that is not necessarily true.

All businesses need quality assurance and user acceptance testing, but how integrated the two processes are with one another will usually differ based on the organization and its focus. Nevertheless, understanding the difference between QA and UAT can be very important. Software professionals who are currently looking for positions within the IT and development area (and want to consider QA testing and UAT testing within their roles), can look at the job listings on Software Specialists for new opportunities and more.

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