Considerations for a More Effective User Acceptance Testing

Slalom Consultant Pranav Jhumkhawala

Pranav Jhumkhawala is a technical manager and a solutions architect with Slalom Consulting, who has wide ranging experience in the areas of application architecture, development and management, implementing solutions for large and complex systems environments that span across multiple business areas, technology landscapes, and architectural disciplines.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is a significant milestone in software development lifecycle. It is during UAT that the users get to see the system “in action”, in many cases for the first time. Their acceptance and sign off are required to proceed with the production deployment. How formal and extensive is the UAT activity depends on the size of the project, user audience as well as the software development approach adopted by the delivery organization.

Acceptance Criteria
A key first step in the planning of UAT is to understand and establish a well-defined acceptance criteria. There is a general tendency amongst teams to focus on the “testing” and not on the “acceptance” part of UAT. This typically leads to too much attention being given to defects in the system, rather than the functionality and user satisfaction with the system. The goal of UAT is to showcase the functionality that the system offers in order to get an acceptance to move ahead with implementation, rather than asking the users to test the system for us. Therefore, emphasize the user acceptance as the primary objective of this activity and plan the UAT scripts accordingly. Read more of this post

A Better ERD

Marek Koenig specializes in Business Intelligence, SharePoint and Custom Development.

Marek Koenig

The problem that I have with big Data Warehouse projects, is that it’s somewhat difficult to document the system in a useful way. I’m sure everyone has seen an entity-relationship diagram (ERD) before, and there are some definite usages for them. Read more of this post

Mobile Payments: Market Disruption in the Making? Or Flavor of the Month?

Slalom Consultant Jeff Barber

Jeff Barber is a Seattle-based leader in Slalom Consulting’s mobility solutions practice. He's a mobile technology expert with deep experience helping clients “operationalize” mobile technologies.

The topic of mobile payments is trending in the blogosphere. Every day you can read new announcements about the latest partnership, acquisition, or technology innovation that promises to revolutionize how consumers buy and how businesses collect money. How do you discern the real, emerging trends amidst the show and hype of the mobile media’s latest darling?

If you study the evolution of mobile payments from a global perspective, I believe you will see that:

  1. The market is transitioning into a disruptive technology cycle;
  2. The global consumer will lead the way in this new cycle; and
  3. A wake-up call is coming to traditional businesses.

Smartphone and tablet adoption will drive the U.S. market. The emerging market consumer will drive the international markets.

Market disruption

The stage is set for a classic disruptive technology cycle, as mobile technology innovation, social media, and emerging economic forces converge to create a perfect storm of global consumer behavior changes that favor mobile devices over traditional payment methods.

The biggest players in finance, e-commerce, and retail see the writing on the wall. Let the partnerships and acquisitions begin. Here’s a partial list of the 21st-century commerce leaders who have announced their forays into the mobile payments arena (visit me on Twitter for the stories): Read more of this post

The Mysteries Behind Aligning Visio Images

Marek Koenig specializes in Business Intelligence, SharePoint and Custom Development.

Marek Koenig

A colleague of mine recently reminded me of an issue I ran into when building out a dashboard with Visio. He was having issues aligning Visio charts with other web parts; It appeared that when a Visio web part was used on a page, it would have an arbitrary amount of canvas space around the image. He had seemingly tried everything, except for starting over.

I had this exact same issue, and it almost drove me mad figuring out what I could do to fix it. I attempted to change several properties on the web part itself, such as: Overriding the Web Drawing’s default initial view; disabling zooming; and, disabling panning. Then just for the heck of it, I open up Visio itself and think I might have some luck there.

First things first, I save the file. To my surprise the canvas area changes once again, but this time it at least looks a little bit familiar. I switch back to Visio and I notice that layout in the web part matches exactly the layout in Visio. It seems that the vdw holds onto some view state information. This makes no sense to me, but I test out my hypothesis by scrolling up in Visio and Read more of this post

Recently Published – Diagnosis: Dashboredom

Slalom Consultant Aaron Hursman

Former Slalom Consultant Aaron Hursman is a user experience architect who applies user-centered design principles and techniques for his cients. He has a background in web development and enterprise applications and enjoys participating in the social web.

As we move from the information age into the intelligence age, dashboards are excellent tools for summarizing data and allowing users to make sense of what can be information overload.

However, dashboards rarely live up to their potential. The vision is attainable, but poor design strategy and execution creates insurmountable friction with numbing effects on its victims. With goals like maximized revenue and increased cost savings hanging in the balance, dashboards are not providing return on investment, because business users are not engaged. Poor designs are rendering them as mere bystanders and critically disengaged, because the dashboards are not actionable, consumable, or discoverable.

In this article (which appears in the November-December 2010 issue of the publication Information Management) I uncover the root causes of the disease and present a treatment plan that engages users and promotes a healthy recovery.

Introduction to SharePoint Branding

Slalom Consultant Tracey Nolte

Slalom Consultant Tracey Nolte is a SharePoint User Experience engineer who enjoys designing and developing engaging, intuitive and beautiful sites for companies of every size.

During, my presentation at SharePoint Saturday in Dallas. I talked on a very high level about Branding SharePoint. Below is a link to my slide deck, but I’ll also reiterate it in snippets below.

Click here to download Tracey’s complete slide deck as a PDF: Introduction to Sharepoint Branding.

The first concept is UX/IA, which stands for User Experience Information Architecture.

A way to approach design …

  • defines users motivations, needs, wants and pain points
  • designs interactive /iterative solutions with users
  • delivers a clean site with intuitive navigation, logical taxonomy and an engaging BRANDED user experience


Branding is is the artful process of combining:

  • Logos
  • Colors
  • Style
  • Information
  • Culture
  • Design

Click here to download the entire presentation.

Making the Case for BlackBerry®

Daniel Maycock is one of Slalom’s acknowledged thought leaders in the realm of new and emerging technology.

Though the iPhone is one of the greatest phones from a breadth standpoint, the BlackBerry is a true marvel from a depth standpoint. From being able to do simple things like easily forwarding meeting notices, to checking free/busy calendars from other team members while tracking down a particular attachment from a particular day–though Android & iOS both have exchange integration, there’s just no beating a BlackBerry.

Now the argument is often made around apps, that devices live and die by Read more of this post

User Experience Matters Part 2

Slalom Consultant Derek Martin

Slalom Consultant Derek Martin is an accomplished Microsoft systems developer and integrator, experienced in developing and deploying SharePoint and CRM solutions, integrating line of business applications, and leveraging existing infrastructure investments.

In my previous article about UX, I talked a lot about how the buy in from users is greatly affected by the design of the application.  At the time I was referring to a specific example in my mind, although I didn’t call it out directly.  I wanted to expand upon that post because of a recent, and excellent, series of articles that I read on MSDN magazine by David Platt about wanting Microsoft to publish UX (UI) guidelines for WPF.  In his first article, he articulates a very compelling case for those guidelines, stating:

“The biggest growth driver of the Windows user platform, besides Solitaire, is the standardized UI that its API encourages. The primary control structure is a menu at the top of a program’s window…”

He goes on to posit that this concept is dictated, in large part, by convention, best practices and actual guidelines from Microsoft.  When I read the article, I was smiling because A) I agreed wholeheartedly with him and B) I knew that he’d get taken to the car wash from the free spirits that seem to be encroaching on the ecosystem with the fancy new WPF toolset.  True to assumption, a month later in his second article he gets quite an earful from folks:

Read more of this post

Effective Dashboard Design: why your baby is ugly

Slalom Consultant Aaron Hursman

Former Slalom Consultant Aaron Hursman is a user experience architect who applies user-centered design principles and techniques for his cients. He has a background in web development and enterprise applications and enjoys participating in the social web.

I presented a topic entitled, “Effective Dashboard Design” at the 2010 Big Design Conference. I have uploaded the presentation slides to SlideShare and embedded it below. I hope you find it to be an informative and interesting topic.

User Experience Matters

Slalom Consultant Derek Martin

Slalom Consultant Derek Martin is an accomplished Microsoft systems developer and integrator, experienced in developing and deploying SharePoint and CRM solutions, integrating line of business applications, and leveraging existing infrastructure investments.

I didn’t mean for this article to turn into a specific rant, but I failed horribly in that regard.  I was doing some follow up research on my previous post regarding the final two silos and was being constantly reminded about how much productivity is lost in the enterprise space by two things:

  1. User Experience
  2. Employee Adoption

How many of you have had to endure the procedure, solution or tool that was mandated from on high without any regard to actual benefit (and in some cases major detriment)?  The politics of IT, when they crop up, will cause employee adoption to tank when the Information Worker feels left out of the decision making process.  It isn’t to suggest that the end users get to decide everything, but when articulating a tool or solution from IT’s perspective, IT should treat the IW or end user as ‘the customer.’  A case in point is User Experience.  My specific rant that came up?  IBM’s Lotus Notes product.  In my, admittedly biased, view, this is a product that fails so horribly at user experience, that an actual study of lost employee productivity could probably yield an insane TCO and equally insane ROI.  Here are some of the things I recently encountered when looking through Lotus Notes.  Caveat – this is not to say these items cannot be done, but rather, in my encounter with the product, the UX was so poor, a decently smart guy like myself couldn’t figure it out quickly:
Read more of this post

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