An Introduction to Beta Testing

You’re a product manager for a soon to be released product and you want to make sure it’s completely ready for release. You’ve heard about beta testing before but you’ve never managed or participated in one. In fact, the more you think about it, the more you realize how little you know about beta testing. What actually is a beta test? Who should conduct it and when should it take place? If you’ve had any of these questions this is the post for you!

What Exactly Is a Beta Test?

A beta test is a coordinated project intended to improve the quality of a pre-release product by collecting feedback from members of the product’s target market. During a beta test, real people get to use the product in real world environments. Beta testers are recruited, unpaid volunteers who match the product’s target market. After allowing them to spend some time with the product, they provide feedback about their experience and any problems they encountered. The company then analyzes the feedback and uses it to make improvements to the product before it is released. The company can also use the results from their beta test to better prioritize requests and concerns for future versions of the product.

Note: Beta testing could go by a different name at your organization. Beta Testing, Customer Acceptance Testing (CAT), User Acceptance Testing (UAT), Friendly User Testing (FUT), Field Trials, Customer Validation, Customer or Pre-release Testing, all refer to the same thing — testing your product with real customers prior to release.

When Do You Run a Beta Test?

Not to be confused with alpha tests, which happen earlier in a product’s development, beta tests take place after a product is at or near completion. A beta test is the final test prior to shipping a product. It gives a development team the most efficient data about how their product will perform in the hands of real customers in the real world.

Who Conducts My Beta Test?

There are several options. A company can either run a beta test “in house” or they can hire a company to do it for them. If your company chooses to perform beta tests themselves, consider hiring a beta manager. Running beta tests requires a specific set of skills and we’ve found that companies get the best results if the person running the test doesn’t have a plate full of other responsibilities. If your beta program doesn’t require a dedicated full-time employee, product managers and quality managers have also been known to conduct tests.

In the event you want to run your beta test yourself, you’ll need a software platform like the Centercode beta management platform to organize and execute your test. This will make the ramp up, management, and analysis of your test much easier. However if need a company to run your beta test for you, services like ours are a great choice for executing a beta test in an effective and efficient way.

Why Should You Run A Beta Test?

Running an effective beta test provides a host of benefits to your product and your company. Beta testing can provide value to your development, product management, quality assurance, marketing, sales, and even support teams. These benefits include:

  • Identification of pain points and delights of a product
  • Discovery of bugs and evaluation of their impact
  • Evaluation of the entire customer experience
  • Collection of testimonials and mock product reviews
  • Validation of features and functions
  • Collection of segmented customer insight for your marketing team
  • Increased confidence for product launch

Running a beta test gives you the data to validate and improve any product with real customer experiences. The feedback provided by real members of your target market can be priceless to a product development team. Being able to know how your product will perform before customers purchase it can make a huge difference in the success of your product launch, as well in the overall success of your product.

Now that you know all the great ways beta tests can help you, your company, the product you’ve been working so hard to develop, learn more about how to run one be checking out our free resource library.

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