Every web company owner is at risk for a common (sometimes devastating) ailment – the “never-ending project.” This dangerous scenario can be prevented by simply educating your clients on 3 acronyms: UAT (User Acceptance Testing), UAP (User Acceptance Period) and SLA (Service Level Agreement).
There may be only one client incessantly insisting that you invest your time in a project that began years ago. But even one is too many.
This maddening malady infected a CEO friend of mine. He told me of a client who would continually request improvements, rework the project, and reach out with constant calls for urgent help. This client was nearly the death of the man’s business, but three acronyms provided a cure.
The “never-ending project” threatens to ensue when the client has a different vocabulary than your team. To start off strong, when a client first walks into the office or has that initial online meeting, introduce them to the language of your office. If you don’t already, you will soon want to have the following three acronyms in your team’s terminology: UAT (User Acceptance Testing), UAP (User Acceptance Period), and the SLA (Service Level Agreement). Having a UAT, UAP and SLA can work wonders for effectively ending projects.
User Acceptance Testing (UAT)
The first of the UAT, UAP and SLA triad happens once the QA (Quality Assurance) team reviews a developed project, the client (we refer to as the Product Owner) takes on the responsibility of testing and ensuring that the team met the project specifications. The goal of UAT is to verify that the team reached a successful solution for the Product Owner’s business. We provide a functionality checklist to direct the Product Owner in the UAT process.
This testing will occur multiple times as the draft and live versions of the software get tested. UAT can be done throughout the project, as modules are completed. As each module is built, the client will test it. After each module has been individually tested, then the client does a final UAT of all the modules.
This exercise for the Product Owner verifies that everything listed on a checklist functions correctly. An example being an eStore. This is how the process might go: The client is told to select a product, purchase it, and go through the checkout process. The client may also be told to perform another task on their website to make sure it is working as expected such as input contact info (phone or email), fill out other forms, or verify that upon completion of a form one is being transferred to the thank you pages.
User Acceptance Period (UAP)
The second of the UAT, UAP and SLA triad happens after the project goes live and the User Acceptance Period (UAP) begins. This time period is when the team is still available to fix any issues and when the project is transitioned into a “support and maintenance” phase. In short, it is a pseudo “warranty” period (but we try not to use the term “warranty” as it can be easily misunderstood). The UAP lasts for 5 days (or sometimes 10 working days, in the case of a very large project) and is a time when the client can rest assured that any defects or issues reported will be worked on immediately.
During this time we guarantee our team makes its first priority to fix any bugs/issues. After that time frame, the client is required to sign a maintenance contract if the client wants to ensure our team will be available to fix defects and build enhancements. Without a maintenance contract in place, a team is not assigned to the project. After the UAP is completed, the project goes into maintenance mode and all additional reported defects or issues will be managed per the Service Level Agreement (SLA) and billed accordingly.
In the case of a Mobile App, the UAP applies to Web admin only. A Mobile App is considered accepted by a client when it is submitted to the iOS App Store (or Google Play store) and a maintenance contract needs to be in place before additional releases are worked on.
Service Level Agreement (SLA)
The final part of the UAT, UAP and SLA triad sets the client’s expectations. The Service Level Agreement helps educate a client on the following:
- Prioritization of tasks/issues
- Speed of service
- Correct way to communicate
The SLA will explain the difference of priority given to regular customers and uncommitted clients. This frees you, as the IT company, to prioritize long-term investors over that business with the “never-ending project” list.
Are you stuck with a project in continual crisis? Introduce these three acronyms to your team, then to your client. If you educate your client on these three acronyms – UAT, UAP and SLA – before any issues arise, then it will be easier to manage client expectations and ward off any perpetual project.
Have more questions on how we avoid the “never-ending project”? Contact us at email@example.com.
IT Hands has been providing quality, custom web development services for over a decade to web companies and ad agencies. We are an agile web development company taking advantage of a globally dispersed team to deliver excellent results. Over 350 clients have been thrilled by the consultation, competency, increased capacity and cost effectiveness that IT Hands brings to every project.