It’s no secret that effectively managing all of the moving parts of a beta test can be a huge time sink. We’ve written up a few useful tips to help increase your efficiency throughout your betas.
1. Be prepared early
Most betas are conducted over a relatively short period of time, so good preparation and organization is essential. Your beta will probably include some surveys and/or task lists, and those can either be created (or at least outlined) in advance. Map out who will need to handle or review the various types of feedback so there is no delay in managing and responding to it, and consider any type of in-test reports you may want to generate. With thorough pre-test planning and a little organization, you can concentrate on ensuring you get the greatest benefit from that limited period you have to work with your testers.
2. Focus on the goals of the test
The open nature of a beta test often results in the discovery of important issues, but it can also result in quite a bit of useful, but less vital data. A critical element of a successful beta is a set of well-defined goals, and it is your job to make certain that by the end of the test a sufficient amount of data pertaining to those goals has been collected. By maintaining your focus on the feedback relating to the test goals, you will not use valuable time dealing with matters of lesser importance and can ensure the significant goal-related issues are thoroughly examined and addressed.
3. Let your testers support each other
Testers love to chat with one another. Some like to offer help while other seek it — and forums provide a great place for them to interact. Let them support each other if they choose, but keep an eye on things to make sure those who need assistance are receiving the proper information.
4. Maximize your communication
Nothing wastes more time than answering the same question twice — or twelve times. If one tester has the question, the chances are pretty good that others will have the same question. Don’t just reply to the person who asked — get the information out to the whole team. You may also want to let your testers know that while everyone enjoys personal attention, your responsibility is to the entire team, which makes it difficult to dedicate a significant amount of time to one-on-one communication.
If you have a project team, delegate some of the tasks to the team members. Most everyone wants to show their value and make a contribution, especially if you ask for their assistance with a specific task. Even if you’re a little more skilled or experienced in that area, a person with the time available to focus on a task will probably do a better job than someone who has to squeeze it into an overloaded schedule.