- The new system is painfully slow to boot;
- The automatic backup feature will not run reliably;
- The system will not interface with two of your legacy systems;
- The system incorrectly calculates withholding taxes when printing paychecks.
Vendor sends in a technician, who announces that all is well with the system and attributes the difficulties to user error. He leaves behind a large bill for his time.
Could this situation - which is deliberately exaggerated - have been avoided?
- Certain questions come immediately to mind:
- What did vendor commit to deliver"
- What did customer expect to receive?
- What does the contract say customer was to receive?
- What performance standard does the contract specify?
- Performance promised; and
- Meet customer's needs.
- Mutually agreed; and,
- Objectively measurable.
Vendors occasionally balk at acceptance testing. Not because they object to demonstrating the quality of their work, but because, typically, customers will withhold final payment until acceptance is successfully completed. Vendors, like everyone else, prefer to be paid in full, and as quickly as possible. Clear, objective standards can do much to overcome this concern. If the customer cannot withhold payment arbitrarily, then timely payment depends only on the quality of vendor’s work.
Acceptance testing will not ensure that a project will be on time or within budget, but it will do much to ensure that the final product will perform as promised, and as needed.