We have a weak spot in our flow. Whenever the time for acceptance testing comes, our client simply doesn't do it in time. There are 50 user stories in Jira waiting to be reviewed by him. The number is getting bigger with each iteration. Because of that bottleneck, it is very hard to work on new stories, as it often happens that he ask for a change request regarding already resolved user stories.
A viable strategy could be the following.
First, make him truly aware of the delay he's causing: you might produce a Cumulative Flow Diagram to point out the slowdown (quite easy given that you work with Jira).
Then, help him dispose the pending approvals:
- as Ashok said, show him how to test the user stories
- schedule a weekly UAT session (possibly attended by a team member who can support him) to fix the project workflow; after some sessions, you might update the Cumulative Flow Diagram to highlight that the bottleneck is being removed
I think the question is why he's not reviewing the stories. I'd use the lean approach that Toyota developed: help the client eliminate his own bottleneck. Possible reasons:
- he doesn't have dedicated resources to the project
- he doesn't know how to review the stories (as he's external and not involved in the development efforts, he might not know all the testing required)
- he doesn't understand he's a bottleneck
- he doesn't understand he's losing money (in the end it goes to that) by not accepting the stories.
So you can address the issue directly with the client. If not responsive escalate to management - use data to show how they hinder your work and potential losses because of the bottleneck. In both cases, offer your help (train, mentor, whatever is needed) to solve the problem.
Ask whoever tested to write-up the steps for testing
Because this is new development, your external client will not know the exact steps for reproducing the use-case conditions. This is most likely slowing him down.
We had this same problem. Our testers then wrote-up the exact steps to follow to test each story. This is not very difficult for the testers because they have gone through these steps themselves.
If the external client is not setting aside time for this, this won't solve that problem. If he is setting aside limited time, this way he will accomplish more during that time.