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Program Management

How Delta Testing Keeps the Focus on Customer Delight During Agile

April 16, 2021

One of the greatest traits of agile development is that it allows teams to respond to customer desires quickly. Its flexibility and conduciveness to rapid iteration opened the door to product evolution through small, successive improvements.

Unlike the avalanche of changes you’d release every so often under Waterfall, this snowball approach of cumulative product evolution over time enables teams to act on what customers want, when they want it. This applies whether you’re fixing a bug, tweaking the interface, or adding the next, best feature.

But Agile, while incredibly useful, is really just a project management method. Even in organizations where the products are developed via Agile, the people are enthusiastic, and the culture is a good fit for it, it’s all too easy to lose focus on staying in touch with the true customer. It requires a high level of co-creation, which is hard to maintain. And of course, in sticking to the relentless pace of develop-test-validate-release-repeat, many teams fall into the “just ship it” mindset.

Avoiding the Speed Trap

With an average of 10 connected products in today’s households, a constant cycle of testing and iteration is vital to staying up-to-date. Continuously improving the user experience and maintaining seamless interoperability at the speed of Agile requires two things: high-performance teams and high-performance customer engagement. But agile teams are often under so much pressure to get through the “develop-test” part of their release cycle that the “validate” part of the equation gets neglected.

What many agile teams lose sight of is that speed isn’t actually the “real” goal. Yes, it’s critically important for maintaining the edge over your competition. But the overall objective is to deliver a product that continues to attract and delight customers. First-to-market means nothing if no one wants what you’re selling.

Validation with real customers in real environments ensures the high-quality deliverables your customers expect and most agile methods demand. Without it, you start leaning on internal opinions and best guesses to maintain speed, at the expense of validating true customer delight, and all you’re doing is delivering a poor product sooner.

Combining Speed with Customer Delight Via Delta Testing

In order to delight audiences, product development teams need seamless releases — validated by their true market. Agile effectively addresses the speed component. But getting user insights quickly enough for teams to make full use of them is still a struggle for many organizations.

So how do you generate the feedback you need to validate releases while maintaining agile speed and cadence? Here’s where Delta Testing comes in.

  • Delta Testing is your real-world QA and usability coverage, provided by a group of your customers using products in the real world. This means you’re testing in more environments and developing more use cases and scenarios than your internal team could ever cover. And since the feedback is coming from actual customers, their insights are actually contextualized and relevant for product success. They’re not just crowdsourced QA testers.
  • Delta Testing automates the high-impact parts of customer testing involved in managing feedback and maintaining engagement. Half of agile teams struggle to find time to manage tests, which impacts their ability to maintain consistent customer contact and engagement. This automation allows teams to spend less time dealing with these necessary countless engagements while still maintaining a steady flow of feedback.
  • Delta Testing provides the golden eggs of feedback. With technologies that take feedback frequency, popularity, and severity into account, it bubbles high-priority issues to the top fast — even scoring the impact that a given issue will have on the overall product experience. Because they’ll know exactly what will affect their customer the most, the pre-prioritized insights provided by Delta Testing increase engineering efficiency by 10%.
  • It’s continuous (i.e., Agile!). Unlike the start and stop of traditional beta, field, or customer tests that build anxiety as you wait for news from your support channels post-release, Delta Testing keeps your engineering teams fed with real-world user feedback in every sprint time. It supplies insights when you need them no matter where you are in the product development life cycle — whether you’re studying your market and competition to shape your next PRD, gearing up for grand launch, or validating the delightfulness of the next great feature. Delta is the key to ensuring that your product is loved by your audience — and stays that way as it matures.

Intrigued? Explore Delta Testing and the possibilities it opens for your team by signing up for our next webinar, Introduction to Delta Testing: How Beta Evolved to Support Modern Product Development.

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