6 Ways Technology Project Teams Can Improve Their Beta Test Programs

Whether you’re developing a new piece of software to release to your customer base or implementing a new system for internal users, beta testing will likely be part of your project. And if your initiative is complex or strategically important, you may have multiple rounds of testing before the project can be completed.

Before you offer your software for sale or make it a part of your infrastructure, you need to put it through its paces to be sure your technology project is a success. A well-developed beta testing program is a good way to accomplish this, and building solid relationships with your beta testers is a crucial step in creating a testing process that is as effective as possible. Your team should also strive to put the right resources and practices around your beta testing program to optimize testers’ efforts, maintain alignment with your technology project’s timeline, and achieve the best outcomes.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your software beta test strategy, consider these six practices that can help to nurture effective partnerships with your beta testers and streamline your feedback and revision processes for better results. 

1: Be clear about what you want from each beta tester.

Start by providing detailed background and instructions so testers can return the most useful and important data. Should they test the platform’s navigation and assess its user interface, or are they expected to try more advanced features? Given the system’s development stage, do you anticipate they may still encounter bugs? If so, what do you want them to do when they find one? Your instructions might include contact information so testers can direct bug reports or suggestions to a specific developer. Alternatively, you may want to lead them to an online form that enables you to aggregate feedback for later review.

2: Make instructions available for the software in your beta testing program.

Your testers want to provide helpful feedback, so arm them with enough information to use the platform they’re evaluating correctly. User manuals, video tutorials, or even live training sessions can be hugely helpful if you have the resources to support them.

3: Develop a comprehensive feedback strategy.

Make it a loop so beta testers know their submitted feedback and questions have been received, reviewed, and acted on. Your feedback process should also heavily emphasize active listening to ensure that testers’ comments, critiques, and suggestions are put to good use.

4: Expedite distribution of testers’ findings to the rest of the project team.

Bugs can sometimes take a long time to investigate and resolve, and delays in relaying that vital information could jeopardize your targeted release or implementation date. Create communication flows that support swiftly moving feedback to the right groups.

5: Make it worth your beta testers’ time.

Beta testing can be time-intensive work, so consider offering some worthwhile incentives. Perhaps a simple gift card to a local coffee house is appropriate. You may also choose something more exclusive, such as early access to new system features or a discount on the final product if testers are outside your organization.

6: Acknowledge beta testers’ contributions.

People want to know they’ve helped, and your testers’ support is a critical component in the success of your software development or implementation project. Recognize their contributions publicly, which is easily done during testers’ group discussions. Individually, you can thank them and call out any work that was above and beyond expectations. That could include their willingness to conduct repeated testing to sort out a particularly thorny problem or to identify updates that should be made to the software’s user manual.

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