I hear this a lot when product teams are working with a white label third party software or they are updating an existing web application from 1998 Visual Basic to a modern design.
User Acceptance Testing appears to fulfill the user-centered checkbox, but in actuality sometimes it’s someone imitating the user who is verifying the functionality of the system and unintentionally ignoring the context of use, usability of the system, and user satisfaction.
Bringing in a UX researcher to conduct a usability test of the completed product will uncover usability issues and user satisfaction, but there is a better way. All products need some amount of UX research, but not all need the full spectrum of generative to evaluative research.
This is where scoping the research activities to meet budget and schedule constraints plays an important role in product delivery. Benchmarking the performance and user satisfaction of the current system with a survey is a great way to identify the good, bad, and ugly parts of the legacy system. It is also useful for identifying which users are open to answering additional questions about their answers.
All survey results are anonymous and users opt in to provide their email address for follow-up questions. I have a standard survey that I use, a few tweaks here and there and its ready to go for a new user group and a new system. I can analyze the survey results while a UX designer is developing wireframes or a prototype. A quick user feedback session on a prototype of the redesign will net huge benefits to the team.
Iterating on the feedback allows the team to develop a more robust redesign that meets the user’s needs and addresses their pain points with the current system.