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Test Strategy

3 Dogfooding Best Practices for Overcoming Employee Beta Challenges

November 16, 2018

Last week in the Dogfooding Best Practices Series, we looked at the advantages eating your own dog food can bring to both your product and your company. From improving product quality to promoting product awareness, a well-oiled dogfooding program sends far-reaching benefits throughout your organization.

But, of course, it isn’t easy. Building and maintaining a successful Internal Beta program comes with specific challenges that vary from company to company. The most common – low participation, spotty or poor quality feedback, and lack of stakeholder buy-in – afflict many would-be thriving dogfooding programs.

If these challenges sound familiar, the good news is that there are simple, practical things you can do to start overcoming them right now. Keep reading for dogfooding best practices and solutions that increase the return on your Employee Beta Test management efforts.

The Challenge: Inconsistent Employee Participation

Issues With

  • Finding enough employees to test your products
  • Motivating your testers to provide feedback
  • Ensuring your testers will come back for future tests

Why It Happens

  • Your testers may see providing feedback as additional work.
  • Your employees may feel like their opinions aren’t heard within your company.

Solution: Get Creative with Your Incentive Strategy

If you’re struggling to get reliable participation from busy employees, it may be time to revisit your incentive strategy. Now before you say, “But I don’t have the budget,” incentives don’t always have to be money or gift cards. There are plenty of alternate ways to show gratitude that don’t break the bank. You might be surprised at how far a simple acknowledgment of their effort can get you.

Give your participation levels a boost by experimenting with these alternative incentive strategies:

  • See if you can get an executive to treat top testers to lunch.
  • Ask your Marketing Team if they can spare any swag. If you can swing it, giving out swag that’s branded to your dogfooding program is a great promotional tool.
  • Send a cookie or snack tray to your colleagues as a thank you.
  • A thank you letter from management is a nice way to acknowledge your employee testers’ efforts.
  • Try setting up small get-togethers to boost participation. Mini-events like bug bashes are quite helpful for getting more feedback.

The Challenge: Low-Quality Employee Product Feedback

Issues With

  • Getting testers to test a specific use case
  • Capturing more feedback from a diverse range of situations
  • Keeping testers engaged over the test period

Why It Happens

  • Testers may see participation as a chore and therefore don’t put in enough effort.
  • Your activities may not be specific enough.

Solution: Think “Outside of the Cubicle” for Testing Scenarios

The types of activities you ask testers to complete should directly reflect your test objectives, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Injecting fun and personality into tester activities can pique the interest of your colleagues and motivate them to provide quality feedback. Just make sure these activities are targeted to your goals, relatable to your employees, and realistically easy to complete. And of course, respond quickly and graciously to each piece of feedback submitted.

Example: This week we have a challenge for you! Sign on Thursday at 8 PM and watch a movie that’s around two hours long, then let us know how the app performed. Here’s a bag of popcorn to get you in the mood. (Include a bag of popcorn and directions for submitting feedback.)

The Challenge: Little to No Organizational Support

Issues With

  • Getting stakeholder buy-in
  • Capturing the attention of new testers
  • Proving the value of your program

Why It Happens

  • Your company doesn’t show adequate appreciation for employees’ opinions.
  • Your company may not emphasize top-down communication.

Solution: Find Your Champions

Getting management and executives on board with your dogfooding program is an enormous boon to gaining support throughout your organization. Keep an eye out for would-be champions: leaders who are enthusiastic about your product or your cause. Specifically invite managers, VPs, and directors from both inside and outside of your department to participate in your Employee Beta Tests. Their influence carries across departments and will capture the attention of more testers.

Example: Try having a director or vice president send an email about the importance of the dogfooding program and how every tester can help improve the products with their feedback. This kind of support lights a fire in your employees and will motivate the troops to participate.

The Golden Goose: A “Customer Zero” Culture

All of these solutions feed into the larger goal of promoting a “Customer Zero” culture within your company. Dogfooding thrives best – and sees the most return – in environments where team leaders take employee feedback as seriously as customer feedback. By taking suggestions, comments, and product experiences collected through dogfooding to heart, it ultimately improves the end-user’s experience.

More Dogfooding Best Practices

We’ll explore in-depth strategies for promoting a “Customer Zero” culture through dogfooding next week. Want to get started today? Don’t miss even more dogfooding best practices available in our new e-book, Essential Tips for Dogfooding Success.

Download the Dogfooding Essential Tips E-Book

Special thanks to Centercode Customer Success Manager Jim Le and his pup Teddy.

Download the Essential Tips for Dogfooding Success
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