Test Management

Four Signs It's Time to Upgrade from Beta Testing

In life, there are challenges you take on because they build character and the end goals are enormously rewarding. Other times, you find yourself mid-challenge because it's something you have to do, whether that's for your role, your product, or your organization. With beta testing, it's often a little bit of both.

Many professionals are assigned to run beta tests in addition to their regular roles (challenge #1). They're often going in without any guidance or standardized processes (challenge #2). And the results can be incredibly rewarding — but useful, actionable results are difficult to guarantee without enough time or reliable processes (challenge #3).

To be clear, beta testing is hardly easy, even for the most experienced beta test managers. But all of these challenging factors can turn what should ultimately be an opportunity to interface and learn directly from your customers into a hair-graying, sigh-inducing nightmare.

How do you know when the cons are outweighing the pros? Here are four signs beta testing isn't serving you and when it's time to try an alternative.

Sign #1: You’ve Had a Hard Time Finding Reliable, Qualified Testers

If you're like many beta test managers, you've tried to send test units or software links to your friends, family, or a group of random testers who then didn't provide you with any usable feedback...if they gave feedback at all. We've all been there.

In this situation, you can say goodbye to any hope of delivering value for the time you spent on beta testing. Without targeted testers who have the right demographics, technographics, and interest in helping you improve your product, you're going to struggle to get accurate, actionable product feedback. And without a community that lets you easily profile and engage with these testers both during and between projects, you'll continue to lose time and money either re-recruiting each time or sinking your efforts into an unreliable tester pool.

Sign #2: You're Not Getting Enough Feedback

The amount of feedback you pull in during beta testing is a direct result of how much your testers are participating. But getting those testers to use your product and submit feedback accordingly? That's a different ballpark.

Tester participation depends on two factors: providing a frictionless experience and maintaining consistent communication. This means your testers understand what they're supposed to be doing at any given time during your project, and they're able to do it quickly and easily.

We've already pointed out that most beta test managers are struggling with time. If you're already stumbling across this challenge, then you've also likely learned that there just aren't enough hours in a day to constantly check in on testers (that's precisely why more than half of test managers find it hard to maintain tester participation).

Sign #3:  You Aren’t Seeing Enough Prioritized, Actionable Insights

Raw feedback doesn't provide the answers you're looking for from beta testing. What you need are insights — and not just any insights. You have to know which ones your development team can act on, and which ones are going to be the most impactful overall.

Creating a sustainable, bias-free way to prioritize and present these kinds of insights is easier said than done. It relies both on having the right testers and getting enough feedback from them. If you're struggling with either, you're probably also having a hard time in this department. But say you do have both — you still need a means of knowing which issues matter most, and figuring that out takes time (and a really intense spreadsheet).

Sign #4: Beta Eats Up Too Much Time

You've probably noticed a running theme around beta testing and the time it takes. Part of what makes beta feel so time-consuming is the manual labor: planning activities each week, responding to tons of email, copy/pasting data, and following up with testers. Rinse, repeat.

Many companies start their beta testing programs on a small scale out of need, so it's common to use generic productivity tools or point solutions for the work. But even as the program starts to expand, the use of non-specific tools stays the same. Over time, the amount of busywork created by using those tools is unsustainable. There's too much data and too many tasks involved.

So What Now?

If you've been struggling with any of the challenges listed above, you've probably also been looking for solutions. Beta testing is, after all, more than an insurance plan — it's a necessary part of ensuring seamless, loyalty-winning product experiences and high satisfaction for your customers.

If the signs are clear that managing the manual parts of beta testing is leading to failure, it might be time for an automated solution. Delta testing handles the heavy lifting of beta testing with community models for easy targeted recruiting, engagement automation, feedback prioritization, and trustworthy reporting. It shifts your focus from working on tedious tasks to tackling the best of what beta testing offers: gathering poignant data from your customers in the real world and spreading those prioritized, actionable insights throughout your organization.

It's time for an upgrade. Get the basics on user testing automation in the Quickstart Guide to Delta Testing.