UAT Lasts as Long as Your System. Are You Prepared?

Joe Norman | January 24, 2020

User Acceptance Testing. The simple phrase that fills consultants with apprehension, dread and heartburn medication. Late nights, high pressure, waning patience, and mostly peaceful conflict are hallmarks of this crucible of Salesforce implementation. During this time, partnerships (and scope) are often tested, and in the worst case, irrevocably damaged. For this reason, any consultant worth their certifications would tell you that UAT is not for the faint of heart.  

It’s one of the biggest struggles that companies face on their projects. Your end-users are the stakeholders who will determine whether an implementation solves for your pain points, or if more work is needed before it can be called a success. But the under-recognized detail about UAT is that you never really get away from it. And any partner that tells you it only happens once, for a finite number of scenarios, and has a clear ending, is not enabling your long-term success.  

In reality, UAT happens every single day for as long as a system is being used. Users are constantly judging the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of a system, often harshly, with little patience for any adverse behavior or functionality gap that makes their experience more difficult. At first thought, that may seem unfair. But the job of any system is to introduce efficiency while also being malleable to changing business needs. If your implementation isn’t doing that, it’s at risk of becoming immediately outdated and ultimately ineffective.

This evergreen UAT “phase” is the world in which system owners must live after go-live. It can be an unforgiving place full of pitfalls and nuances. The temptation to focus on the “now” and not the future is prevalent, but this approach risks sacrificing long-term stability. Because UAT never really stops, your digital solution must be mindfully maintained by seasoned stewards who share your future vision. After launch, it’s not enough for your implementation partner to simply be an ad hoc order taker putting out fires; working in and around a live org requires a special skill set.

Beyond expert product knowledge, you must ensure that your team and partners have the experience with and knowledge of best practices that are built from years of working in live orgs. Resources that have the seniority and discipline to see around corners and into the future, in terms of governance, process and product evolution, bring many benefits. They help protect your ROI, ensure your org is moving forward with new enhancements, and reduce the heartburn caused by eternal UAT. You need a partner who intimately understands what makes your experience unique and can recommend an effective approach to meet your needs during implementation, at launch and into the future.

7Summits’ focus on being the seasoned steward–and not just an order taker–is why we call our team Customer Success Services. Unlike so many managed services teams, we know what it takes to keep a Salesforce org healthy and moving forward throughout the everlasting UAT process. Our team is staffed with experienced post-go-live Salesforce experts. We do this to ensure a seamless customer experience, expert execution and issue resolution, but mostly because we understand what it truly means to have a live Salesforce org.

A great example of this is work we did for a large financial services client. This client came to us with a Service Cloud implementation that was suffering from poor adoption due to functionality gaps. Sales reps were abandoning the system simply because it was making life more difficult. 

They partnered with 7Summits’ Customer Success Services team to provide ongoing support. This effort started with an org assessment that included collaborative conversations with customers to identify problems and opportunities. Bringing our point of view that UAT is an ongoing process, we uncovered quick wins in areas like automation, reporting/dashboards, access control, and a new custom Lightning home page. After five weeks of targeted efforts that fixed the existing problems and set up the org for future enhancements, adoption was back in the green with all sales reps adopting the updated system. And, the collaborative assessment of the org’s limitations and opportunities continues to this day. 

Whether it’s additional org analysis, technical debt monitoring, reviewing Salesforce release notes together or conducting enhancement sprints, we remain engaged to protect the adoption and ROI of the solution. UAT is more than just a phase; it lives as long as your system does. Your partners must believe in this to ensure your long-term success.

Blog contributed by Joe Norman, 7Summits’ Director of Customer Success. Joe brings years of experience working in and leading managed services teams and ensuring long-term stability and success of clients’ digital solutions. 

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