Toward Preprototype User Acceptance Testing of New Information Systems: Implications for Software Project Management

Author(s): Fred D. Davis and Viswanath Venkatesh
Date: 2004

Type of Experiement: Case Study
Sample Size: 246
Class/Experience Level: Professional
Data Collection Method: Survey


This paper aims at identifying how user acceptance testing can be done earlier in the development process to beneficially impact the future quality of the completed system. The authors attempt to research this field by performing two experiments in preprototype user-acceptance testing, generating acceptance tests before a prototype has been created. The initial finds show that this method is more beneficial because the preprototype acceptance generation is done when there is greater flexibility to modify a systems design attributes. The question the authors aim to answer is:

Can predictively accurate assessments of the likelihood of workplace acceptance of a new system be made based on measures taken from prospective users who have been informed about the features and functionalities to be included in the new system, but have not yet had an opportunity to experience hands-on interaction with it?

To answer this question the authors created two different experimental case-studies at on two different industry projects. The first project involved 106 employees who were surveyed on the acceptance criteria of a planned system before and after a prototype was created. The second project involved 140 employees at a different organization and was meant to be an extension on the first study; employees were surveyed and also underwent different forms of training before responding to the questionnaires. Both of these studies found that it was statistically encouraging of being able to capture user acceptance very early in the design process. This is very interesting work that helps demonstrate that user acceptance testing can be a very useful tool to help ensure development resources are not spent on a prototype that the users do not really want.