Beta Testing is a variant of Acceptance Testing that enhances a product by permitting the end-user to verify its functionality, usability, dependability, and compatibility.
Feedback from end-users aids the development of the product’s quality and advises decisions on prospective investments and enhancements.
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As Beta Testing takes place at the location of the end-user, it does not qualify as a regulated activity.
This article offers a comprehensive overview of Beta Testing, illuminating its definition, objectives, requirements, and challenges in a succinct and comprehensible manner.
Your Learning Outcomes:
- Definition of Beta Testing
- Objective of Beta Testing
- When to Conduct Beta Testing?
- Stakeholders and Participants
- Blueprint for Beta Test
- Method of Performing Beta Testing
- Overcoming the Challenges of This Testing Phase
- How Can Companies Achieve Success in Beta Testing?
- How to Kickstart Your Career as a Beta Tester
- Incorporating Beta Testing Experience within Your Resume
- How to Unearth Opportunities as a Beta Tester
- Wrapping Up
Definition of Beta Testing
Beta Testing is a method of Customer Validation that assesses customer fulfilment by allowing end users to experiment with the product over an extended timeframe.
End users deliver feedback on design, functionality, and usability, thereby aiding in the overall quality assessment of the product.
Beta Testing is centered around answering the question: “Is the customer satisfied with the product?”
Purpose of Beta Testing
The objectives of Beta Testing include:
- Offering a thorough analysis of the end users’ interaction with the product.
- Evaluating the product from diverse user viewpoints, such as those of marketing managers, usability engineers, and technical users.
- Checking for real-world compatibility by testing across a broad range of platforms.
- Discovering hidden bugs and fixing the gaps in the final product that weren’t detected during internal testing.
- Assessing the impact of known issues on the product and user experience.
When to Conduct Beta Testing?
Beta Testing is conducted subsequent to Alpha Testing and before the product is released to the market.
Ideally, Beta Testing should happen when the product is at least 90% – 95% completed and sufficiently stable for testing on diverse platforms; all features should be either complete or close to being finished.
Before initiating the product, it’s important to review the readiness checklist:
- Verify that all components of the product are prepared for testing.
- Delve into the documentation for end users, comprising setup, installation, usage, and uninstallation guidance.
- Confirm that essential functionality is in working order.
- Delineate procedures for gathering bug reports and feedback.
Beta Testing typically persists for one or two test cycles, each lasting 4 to 6 weeks. However, the duration may be extended if new features are introduced or core components are revised.
Stakeholders and Participants
The stakeholders in Beta Testing are the Product Management, Quality Management, and User Experience divisions. These departments closely oversee the testing phase.
The participants in Beta Testing are the end users who will actually make use of the product.
The strategy for Beta Testing includes:
- Outlining business goals for the product.
- Planning the entire beta phase, including cycles and duration.
- Devising a Beta Test Plan.
- Setting the testing approach to be adopted by participants.
- Determining tools for reporting bugs, measuring productivity, and collating feedback.
- Deciding on rewards and incentives for participants.
- Finalising when and how to conclude the testing phase.
Blueprint for Beta Test
The Beta Test Plan should incorporate the following:
- Objective: Declare the purpose of Beta Testing and its necessity following internal testing.
- Scope: Delineate the parts to be tested and any unique data to be employed in testing.
- Test Approach: Detail the testing approach, prioritising functionality, UI, response, etc. Indicate the process for reporting bugs and offering evidence, such as screenshots or videos.
- Schedule: Define the start and end dates, the number of cycles, and the cycle duration.
- Tools: Note down the bug reporting tool and furnish instructions on how to use it.
- Budget: Offer incentives for bugs based on the severity of the issue.
- Feedback: Summarise the methods for collating feedback and assessing it.
- Pinpoint and examine the entry and exit criteria.
- Alpha Testing should be finalized and approved.
- The Beta version of the product needs to be completed and launched.
- User manuals and a compilation of known issues should be documented and ready for release.
- Tools for recording bugs and feedback must be set up, and usage documentation must be accessible.
- There should be no critical bugs on any platform.
- All significant bugs discovered in the Beta Test phase should be rectified.
- A Beta Summary Report should be created.
- Beta Testing should be officially signed off.
A detailed Beta Test Plan, coupled with its effective implementation, contributes to the success of the testing phase.
Method of Performing Beta Testing
Multiple techniques of performing Beta Testing exist, but it generally comprises five stages:
#1) Developing a Plan
Establish goals ahead of time to ascertain the number of participants and the requisite duration to achieve those goals.
#2) Enlisting Participants
Enlist an adequate number of participants for testing. Budget restrictions may impose a minimum and maximum limit on the number of participants. Ideally, 50-250 users are sought for products of medium complexity.
#3) Launching the Product
- Deliver installation packages to participants, ideally via download links.
- Supply user manuals, guides, known issues, and the testing scope to participants.
- Distribute instructions and methods for reporting bugs to participants.
#4) Gathering and Analyzing Feedback
- Address the bugs reported by participants through a bug management process.
- Collect feedback and suggestions based on the experiences of participants with the product.
- Analyze feedback to gauge customer satisfaction.
- Consider suggestions for enhancing future versions of the product.
#5) Concluding the Test
- End the Beta Testing phase when a certain point is achieved, when all features are operating without problems, and when the exit criteria has been fulfilled.
- Provide participants with rewards or incentives as planned, expressing official gratitude in order to maintain a positive relationship.
Overcoming the Challenges of This Testing Phase
Maintaining control over the entire beta phase poses a challenge since the process cannot be regulated once it has commenced. To tackle this issue, set up forum discussions and engage all participants. Restrict discussions to the beta aspects of the product and adhere to a defined process.
Implement surveys to collect feedback on the product experience and stimulate participants to write testimonials.
Designate validators to observe the progress of beta testing and allow them to communicate with participants if required.
Locating and recruiting suitable participants can be a significant obstacle. Participants may not possess the necessary skills or technical know-how to rigorously test the product.
Uncovering hidden bugs may also be challenging in certain instances. Moreover, collecting and managing feedback can pose a challenge, as not all feedback is valuable and only pertinent feedback should be evaluated.
Delivering feedback to relevant teams can be a tedious task for the Product Management Team. Furthermore, Beta Testing may not always be characterized by well-defined plans and may need to be hastened due to time constraints, leading to unmet objectives and limited product experiences for participants.
When Beta Testing Fails:
- Deficiency of a sound execution plan.
- Subpar test management.
- Pressing deadlines because of delays in earlier phases.
- Releasing an unstable product.
- Unsatisfactory or excessive number of participants.
- Test periods that are either overly short or long.
- Inefficient tools.
- Inadequate feedback management.
- Insufficient incentives.
Beta Software: A trial version of software distributed to the public prior to the final release.
Beta Version: A version of software released to the public that encompasses nearly all features but is not yet entirely finalized and may still harbor some errors.
Beta Testers: Individuals who test beta versions of software releases.
How Can Companies Achieve Success in Beta Testing?
- Ascertain the availability of the beta version.
- Identify the best user groups for testing, whether limited or public.
- Offer clear testing instructions (user manual).
- Make the beta software accessible to the selected groups and assemble feedback and bug reports.
- Based on analysis of the feedback, prioritize and tackle issues before the final release.
- Release the modified version for verification by the same groups.
- Once all tests are finalized, halt any further feature changes for this release.
- Remove the “beta” tag and release the final software version.
How to Kickstart Your Career as a Beta Tester
If a company accepts you as a beta tester, perform these steps:
- Review the software requirement specifications, known defects, and modules to be tested.
- Download and install the beta software.
- Commence testing.
- Draw up bug reports for any issues encountered in the application.
- Record suggestions/feedback to enhance the user experience.
- Submit bug reports and feedback to the company.
Incorporating Beta Testing Experience within Your Resume
For budding candidates seeking software testing experience, testing beta releases presents an opportunity to acquire real-world experience and demonstrate their abilities.
Include your beta testing experience in your resume, providing information about the project, project description, test environment, etc. This experience will immediately capture the prospective employer’s attention, especially when applying for software testing roles as a beginner.
How to Unearth Opportunities as a Beta Tester
Option #1: Acquiring Experience in Software Testing
For instance, you could apply to become a beta tester for Microsoft. Microsoft proposes over 40 beta software opportunities, allowing you to experiment with their products and provide feedback and defects.
Exploring these opportunities and selecting a product to test locally can help you amass valuable experience. This experience may even lead to a employment opportunity in companies offering beta versions for testing.
Option #2: Earning Additional Income
Certain companies compensate testers for testing their beta applications. The video game testing industry is an excellent starting point in finding paid beta testing opportunities. Several video game companies provide remuneration to testers for testing beta versions of their releases.
However, beware of scam sites demanding payment for joining as a game tester. Perform thorough research and investigate extensively before making any commitments. Career sites such as Careers.org and Simplyhired also list authentic beta tester job opportunities.
Bear in mind that the primary objective is to gain testing experience on practical projects and enrich your resume to attain your dream job.
The triumph of a product hinges on customer satisfaction.
Beta Testing enables users to experiment with and critique a product before its official release. Rigorous testing on a variety of platforms and invaluable feedback from real users contribute to the success of Beta Testing and guarantee customer satisfaction.
This practice serves as a more effective method to evaluate the success of a product before its launch.
If you have any inquiries, feel free to ask in the comments below.