How to Choose the Right Beta Testing Tools and Features

Imagine building a birdhouse out of a 100 lb block of wood with only a set of instructions and a handsaw. Too easy? How about this one: imagine running a community of 1,000 active testers when your only beta testing tools are Excel and Outlook. That one might be a little more challenging (and more than a little frustrating). That’s because when it comes to successful Customer Validation, your processes and tools go hand in hand.

The beta testing tools you use can have a big impact on your efforts – and results. You can see this in any beta process, from managing what your testers do, to keeping your data clean, to delivering useful recommendations to your stakeholders.

It takes a blend of functionality and flexibility to fit your needs. And while we’re obviously a little biased when it comes to a comprehensive beta testing tool, we’ve mapped out a list of features you can look for when choosing the right tool for you.

  • Automation
  • Integrations
  • Smart Issue Prioritization

The Best Feature for Saving Time: Automation

If there’s one thing customer testing professionals need more of, it’s time. Done manually, tasks like user scoring, issue tracking, and feedback triage become massive time sinks. Yet these time sinks are the norm for many test managers. Three out of five people running customer tests are using email and spreadsheets as their primary beta testing tools. This equates to hours each week spent importing, exporting, and updating data by hand.

Automation offers the double benefit of expanding your capabilities and saving you time. With the right tools, you can automate almost any repeatable task. Some examples of the ways you can leverage automation are:

  • User Segmentation. These functions sort user survey respondents into segments, like iOS or Android. This keeps feedback clean and organized.
  • Automated Response. Responding to feedback is a big factor in maintaining tester engagement. With these functions, you can update testers with confirmations and follow-ups to their submissions. They’ll get a response to their queries any time, day or night.
  • Constant Engagement. On a project level, these functions remind testers to complete unfinished surveys. On a community level, it prompts testers to update their profiles on a scheduled cadence (every six months, for example).

We also asked our Customer Success Team to weigh in on the features they believe make the most impact on a modern Customer Validation program.

User Scoring

TJ McCabe, Customer Success Manager
User scoring is vital to identifying your best testers and weeding out poor participants. But while it’s a repeatable process, it’s complicated to do by hand. That makes it a perfect candidate for automation.

These features automatically score users based on positive or negative actions – submitting a survey within a certain window of time, for example. Then the system takes care of the rest. This way, you know which testers you should invite back to your next project.

Here’s how User Scoring Management looks in the Centercode Platform:

How to Choose the Right Beta Testing Tools | User Scoring Example

Automated Alerts

Tony Fisher, Sr. Director of Customer Success
When a lot of your tests are running on autopilot, you need to know right away when something beyond the norm pops up. For example, critical issue notifications send you a message if a tester reports a blocking issue. With this awareness, you know when to jump into the test immediately. It minimizes the time your testers spend unable to test your product.

Reporting

Jim Le, Technical Support Lead
Automated reports save a lot of time, especially if you’re asked to show the results of your test on the fly. You can also schedule automatic reporting on a cadence. Once you pull together the data you need, automation should refresh the data and send that report where you need it to go.

The Best Features for Winning Buy-In: Integrations

Four out of five business leaders agree that problems “arise because they have different internal systems/applications that don’t ‘talk’ to each other.” Keeping departments on the same page is critical to establishing your program as a key player within your organization. The results you draw in from your beta testing efforts don’t mean much if your stakeholders can’t access or don’t use them.

Integrations are a powerful tool for promoting your results to the rest of your organization. They empower you to make your data available to other teams in the systems they’re familiar with. Used alongside automation, integrations enable you to make all that data available in real time.

Our Customer Success Team shared which types of integrations make the biggest impact on how our customers win stakeholder buy-in.

In-App Bug Reporting & Two-Way Jira Integration

Matt Kapitan, Customer Success Manager
Integrations create a straightforward path between your app, your feedback reporting tool, and your issue tracking system. For example, say a user submits a bug within your app. This integration will push that bug submission into the Centercode Platform (or the customer feedback tool you’re using) automatically.

From there, you can review the submission before pushing it into Jira. Using field maps, your customer feedback tool creates a new ticket in Jira. Finally, when your engineers close out that ticket, the integration will close it out in your feedback tool at the same time.

Enhanced Reporting with Business Intelligence Tools

Travis Clifford, Customer Success Manager
Systems like Tableau and Domo are built to slice and dice data. Integrating these systems with beta testing tools like Centercode creates a secure channel for importing, visualizing, and distributing data.

Linking tools like Google Analytics helps you create amazing dashboards to see all your data. You’re able to showcase your user data and machine data side by side. The best part is that with integrations, all these reports update automatically. You don’t have to reimport and rebuild your charts over and over.

The Best Features for Increasing Efficiency: Smart Issue Prioritization

Knowing how prevalent an issue or sentiment is within your project is vital to deriving results from your beta test. It indicates how well your target market will accept that feature post-release.

Here’s where a smart issue prioritization feature like Impact Scoring comes into play. This issue prioritization feature is built into the Centercode Platform to show you the issues that will impact your product the most. It combines feature and severity priorities set for your project and weighs those against the number of times an issue arises during a test. The resulting ‘score’ tells you how important an issue is, ranked by your priorities.

How to Choose the Right Beta Testing Tools | Example of Impact Scoring

The noise created by duplicate feedback also makes it difficult to surface the most important feedback. This ties into another smart feature: Predictive Match. As a tester enters a description of an issue or idea, a list of possible matches pops up – similar to what you’d see in a search engine. If they find a match, they can select it. Their feedback gets recorded as an additional occurrence rather than a duplicate issue. If there isn’t a match, it becomes a new issue, which the system will add to the match list.

Both of these features take manual tasks off the test manager’s plate so they have more time to focus on delivering results.

Beta Testing Tools: In Conclusion

Your tools matter. As the demand for Customer Validation grows, professionals will need stronger and smarter tools to help them meet their goals. Your processes have a profound impact on how you manage your tests, but it takes more than a set of instructions to build a birdhouse. To see maximum results for your efforts, your beta testing tools need to support those processes at every step of the way.

Discover the tools and processes driving Customer Validation efforts by reading the Customer Validation Industry Report!

Get the Customer Validation Industry Report

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