Improving Modern Software Development with Customer Feedback

Last month, Coding Sans shared the insights of almost 700 tech survey respondents in their 2019 State of Software Development report. The wonderful nuggets of information in the report shed light on the challenges involved with modern software development. Namely, delivering working software with limited resources and a full backlog.

Sifting through the responses, we found crucial pieces of information that point to how customer testing helps alleviate some of these challenges and shapes the progress of software development.

Many professionals are adopting Agile methodologies and continuous delivery to increase speed and efficiency. But while these changes are meant to push dev teams into high gear, many companies say that software development processes aren’t as efficient as they would like. This grading table shows how respondents rated the effectiveness of their company’s software development practices.

Improving Modern Software Development with Customer Feedback | How Respondents Rate Their Software Development Practices

Grades are based on a standard letter grade scale and ratings are based on a 10-point scale.

So if product dev teams are feeling ineffective, how are engineering managers and development leaders measuring the success of their software development programs? According to the chart from the report (pictured below), both top and average performers named “working software” as the primary indicator of success, followed by on-time delivery. But about 1 in 5 respondents in both categories said they aren’t measuring with any concrete criteria at all.

Improving Modern Software Development with Customer Feedback | Coding Sans - Criteria for Success of Software Development Managers

As we look at the metrics companies are using to judge the success of software development, we also see gaps that Customer Validation helps fill. There are 4 ways in particular that involving your customers in software development via continuous beta testing promotes faster and more thorough releases.

  1. Involving customers in development improves the quality of your software.
    Beta testers report the issues they’re experiencing in their real-world environments and product ecosystems. This dramatically scales test coverage of your product lines, and therefore helps you produce working software.
  2. Collaborative tester feedback lends itself to more efficient development.
    When testers have the ability to vote on, match their existing submissions, and engage with bugs, discussions, and suggestions from other testers, it’s faster and easier to surface high-priority work items.
  3. Testers scale your software testing efforts and extend your resources.
    By bringing in a group of customers as testers, you not only increase test case coverage, you also increase the range of devices involved in the evaluation and the test rate. This promotes on-time delivery of software releases.
  4. Customer Validation reduces project costs.
    Alpha, Beta, and Delta (continuous) Tests identify issues earlier and make impactful work items easier to prioritize. With reliable processes, they reduce the time and cost it takes to resolve bugs before your software goes live.

Bringing customers into software testing isn’t a revolutionary idea. Our own recent industry survey showed that 9 out of 10 product development professionals think more customer involvement would be beneficial. But while most companies are running some form of Customer Validation, many haven’t optimized their processes to start reaping the biggest benefits.
Improving Modern Software Development with Customer Feedback | Top Benefits of Customer Validation

To learn more software development and testing methods used by today’s professionals to streamline continuous output, check out our new infographic.

Software Testing in the Age of Iterative Development (Infographic)

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