How to Beta Test Your Software
Software testing is an important part of any successful software implementation, the question is whether you know how to do it. When launching any software, especially if it is going to be business-critical, it must be rigorously tested for performance, quality and accuracy. The main purpose of testing is to ensure the system performs as it should consistently and without error. If you are currently in the process of adopting a new software, make sure you give it a test drive!
Acceptance testing is a logical first step to take, as it is a form of software testing meant to gauge a system’s compliance with business requirements and determine if it is acceptable for distribution. Acceptance testing branches out into two main components:
- Customer Acceptance Testing: performed by the customer, or whoever has requested the organization to develop the software
- Users Acceptance/ Beta Testing: should be performed by your end users (which in your case is probably you)
To beta test new software in your organization, first identify a pool of employees who will serve as your beta testers. Then, give them early access to the system with the following goals in mind:
One of the main reasons you would conduct beta testing is to identify issues or bugs in the system. Any problems that didn’t get caught during alpha testing (usually done by designers and developers) can now be identified and addressed. By allowing users access to a beta version of the system, you increase the likelihood of finding issues that slipped through the cracks in development. Also, you get to see if the system performs consistently while dealing with higher user volume.
Quality assurance is another important reason to conduct beta testing. Beta testing allows developers to assess the system experience through the eyes of an end-user. Some functionalities that seemed like a good idea in development may contribute to an unnecessarily complex and convoluted user experience, diminishing the overall quality of the product.
Feature alterations and additions can also be made during the beta test period. Regardless of the market research conducted prior to development, it takes real-world application to get a full understanding of what a system may require in terms of features and functionality. Beta testing provides that real-world element, allowing your organization to trial different features and even receive user feedback. Developers can then leverage that feedback by either adding, altering or removing some features entirely.
The following steps will walk you through how to perform a basic beta test for your system, app, or software.
- Get the product ready—Make sure the product aligns with all your business requirements, acquire the right links, create users, provide temporary passwords etc.
- Have a Plan—Think about the goal of this software and plan to test all the functionality needed to meet your business requirements.
- Choose Users—Choose a specific group of employees as beta testers. These are the ones who will be sinking their teeth into the system and providing feedback based on their findings. Preferably, the group should consist of the people in your organization who will actually use the software.
- Train users—Some systems may require some user training to ensure they can deliver helpful feedback.
- Test Across Environments—Software should be tested in all environments that may be used by the end-user. This includes desktop, mobile and tablet experiences, depending on the system.
- Use Scenarios—Use real-life scenarios and data. Get some of the hard copies that you use in your business before and try to do the same task with the new system and compare the results.
- Collect feedback—Gather and assess the feedback provided by your beta-testers/users. Feedback will help to improve the overall product quality.
- Report Issues—Users should be reporting bugs or any issues they faced. It is very important to mention the steps to reproduce the issue and the part of the software that this issue found.
- Feature Requests—During testing, users may like to change some of the features or add some new ones that help in software quality and integrity.
Overall, you just want to make sure that your system is going to perform how you, your users (and your boss) expect it to. Technology is constantly evolving, and software is no different. Even if your system has been in use for a while, you can still beta test new versions or features. As the needs of your users evolve, so to must the functionality of your systems. Make sure you keep your ear to the ground and stay aware of any changes to the user environment that may necessitate a new system version.
Thanks for reading!