People using metaheuristics often forget that the price to pay for their ease of adaptation to a new problem is the hard validation work. There is several things to keep in mind when using a metaheuristic, especially when one want to prove that they work in practice.
This (kind of) mind map try to list what you should do, and a short set of main tools to do it. It is not always mandatory to use all the tools, sometimes it is just a matter of choice (like for the parameter setting), sometimes the more you do, the better it is (like for performance assessment).
The graphic has been drawn in SVG, and I have put some references in a very small font at the bottom of some boxes. Thus, it would be more confortable to view it in Firefox or in Inkscape, and to zoom where needed. Try the SVG version.