In beta testing, your schedule can be a moving target. One little slip can throw your whole beta plan off track, leaving you with a pool of anxious beta testers and looming deadlines. In this installment of our Beta Tips series, we’ve put together some advice for managing your beta test schedules and potential delays.
1. Be Regimented, But Not Specific
It’s best to be vague about dates when talking to your testers. The nature of beta testing often requires you to shift your schedule to accommodate issues and changes. If you lay out everything in numbers of weeks, most of what you’ve told testers will still be true if you have to adjust your schedule. If you give testers specific dates, one small hiccup cascades into a dramatic change that affects every subsequent date. For more on this, download our software or hardware beta planning kits.
2. Practice Consistency
“Keep to a regular test schedule. Overall participation improves when keeping to a consistent test schedule. I send out new testing instructions on the same day each week and ask testers to complete surveys by the same day each week. I’ll often see my numbers drop off when forced to diverge from our regular schedule.”
— Geoff Griffin, TiVo
3. Incentivize Extensions
If you need to extend your test beyond the specified period, it’s important to budget for additional incentives. Your testers committed to a specific term, and your good will with them can take a hit if you extend those terms without sweetening the bargain. Just as important, the extended commitment needs to be optional. It’s likely not their fault the test ran long, and they shouldn’t be penalized if they can’t continue.
4. Make the Most of Slips
If you’ve already shipped a product or people are prepared to test but some last minute issue has caused the project to slip, you need to change your focus fast. Examine a part of the product that is unrelated to the slip and ask testers to focus their energy on it. If the slip is severe, it may make sense to put the test on hold. However, only do that if you believe that you can’t solve the issue within a day or two of test start. It’s very difficult to regain momentum once a project has been placed on hold.
If you do face delays in your tests, our beta test management platform and managed betas team can help you catch up and completed your test in half the time. If you’re interested in learning more, request a demo.