One of the most unique aspects of beta testing is the wide variety of different objectives it can achieve compared to other forms of product testing. This flexibility is part of what makes beta testing so valuable, but it can also make beta challenging as you try to decide which objectives to focus on during your test.
A main goal of almost every beta test is to improve product quality by finding and fixing bugs, but beyond that every test is different. Determining your specific objectives during the planning stage of your beta test can go a long way toward ensuring that the test meets your needs as well as the needs of your stakeholders.
Types of Objectives
Beta testing goals are broken down into two types:
- Primary Objectives: These goals are the reason this beta test exists, and therefore all other planning is based on successfully achieving them. These will be the goals that will drive decisions about who to recruit, what feedback to collect, and how data is handled.
- Secondary Objectives: These goals can be considered “nice to haves”. They will likely be referenced in surveys and tasks, but results are not necessarily required.
Determining which of your goals are primary objectives and which are secondary will help guide the rest of your beta test planning. It will also make it easier to prioritize and pivot during your beta test if unexpected issues arise at any point.
How Many Objectives to Set
You can only accomplish so much during your beta test, so you’ll need to make sure your goals are realistic. To determine how much you can expect to achieve during your test, you’ll need to consider the following:
- The State of Your Product: Depending on how stable your beta product is, you may have different objectives to consider. If the product is earlier in the development cycle you may only be able to focus on basic functionality and feedback, since your testers will be too busy finding or regressing bugs to do much else. If your product is nearly launch-ready then you can branch out to testing the out-of-the-box experience, support documentation, and other more advanced goals, since bugs won’t be as time-consuming.
- The Length of Your Beta Testing Period: We recommend focusing your testers on one primary objective per week during your beta test. So if your beta testing period (meaning the time your testers actually have the product in their hands and are actively testing) is four weeks, limit your primary goals to four as well.
- The Number of Beta Testers: If you have the bandwidth to manage a larger beta tester team, you can divide up your testers and have them focus on different goals. If your tester team needs to stay small because of beta unit or time restrictions, however, you’ll want to focus all of your testers on the same goal.
It’s incredibly valuable to understand the relationship between goals, testers, and test length. If you decide to add additional objectives as your beta test progresses, understanding these dynamics will help you decide whether you need to extend your test or recruit additional testers to deal with the change.
Beta Objectives Checklist
These objectives are broken down by the discipline, but many of these goals can meet the needs of multiple stakeholders at your organization. Which goals you select will depend on your product and how beta can best contribute to its success, but this checklist is a great starting place to help you determine the primary and secondary goals you’d like to achieve.
- Evaluate the Total Customer Experience
- Assess Customer Acceptance of MVP Readiness
- Solicit Feature Requests for Roadmap Validation
- Perform Competitive Analysis
- Identify Bugs to Improve Quality
- Evaluate Real-world Impact of Known Issues
- Regression Testing on Solved Issues
- Analyze and Improve Real-world Performance
- Test Real-world Compatibility
- Study and Improve the User Experience
- Assess the New User Experience
- Test Documentation and/or Support Materials
- Test the Product’s Support Process
- Collect Mock Reviews and/or NPS Scores
- Collect Testimonials, References, or Case Studies
- Acquire Early Adopters/Evangelists
- Generate Product/Launch Awareness
Selecting your objectives during the planning phase of your beta test will set up a solid foundation for future decisions. Once your goals are in place you can strategically design your test to help achieve them. You can set up surveys, tasks, forms, and reports with these goals in mind. This will help to ensure that you’re collecting relevant and meaningful feedback that will have a greater impact on the success of your product.
If you’d like more help planning your next beta test, download our planning kits for software and hardware beta tests. These kits provide a complete template for planning your next beta test, including setting your primary and secondary beta objectives. You can also request a free beta test plan based on your unique situation.