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Test Management

How to Use Scoring to Improve Your Beta Program

October 30, 2014

As we’ve discussed in previous posts, tracking participation during beta testing is an incredibly important part of tester management. It allows you to keep track of which of your testers are contributing to your beta (and deserve to be rewarded) and which ones are dead weight. One simple and effective way to do this is by scoring your testers. This involves associating a number of points with certain behaviors that you can attribute to testers throughout your test, making it easy to see at the end of the test who your most (and least) valuable testers are.

Why You Should Score Your Testers

Scoring your testers contributes to your beta program in three ways.

  1. It makes distributing incentives easier. If all of your testers are scored for their participation throughout the test, it makes it much easier to see who participated and who didn’t at the end of the test. Then you can easily determine who earned a thank you gift and who didn’t pull their weight.
  2. It makes recruitment easier. If you’re recruiting for an important test it’s incredibly helpful to see which testers have proven themselves during your previous tests and who didn’t. You can reward the top testers by pulling them into your next test while avoiding the duds.
  3. It helps with consistency in your beta program. Setting scoring guidelines for your projects will help create consistency between your beta tests. This will improve participation overall because your testers will know what’s expected of them from test to test, but it will also help your project managers because it will create a baseline for what defines a good tester in your community.

Using Centercode to Score Testers

The Centercode platform makes it simple to score your testers in a way that’s both valuable to your specific beta test and your beta program as a whole. The system has two scores for each tester: a Project Score and a Community Score. This means you can score a tester throughout your beta test to determine their standing within that particular test. Then at the end of your test you can add or remove points from the tester’s Community Score. This will communicate to future project managers whether this tester should be selected for more tests.

Along with the scoring functionality, you can add comments to each score change. So when you add five points to the tester’s Project Score you can also add a comment that says “Installation survey submitted”. Or when you remove ten points from their Community Score you can note “Tester did not adequately participate during the Widget Pro beta. Would not recommend using again.”

The final piece to understand about scoring in the Centercode system is that you can score testers automatically and manually. So if you want to add five points to a tester’s Project Score for every bug they submit, you can set that up at the beginning of your test. Your team will also have the ability to give any tester a points boost when they notice someone going above and beyond.

How to Use Scoring to Improve Your Beta Program

Building Your Scoring Strategy

Now that you have an idea of why you should score your testers and how to do so in our beta management platform, we have some tips for building your scoring strategy.

  • Decide which activities to reward. You want to reward anything that shows that the tester is participating in your beta test. This means rewarding testers for feedback submissions (bug reports, feature requests, surveys), but also for commenting on discussions or writing journal entries. You can also give a small points boost for logging in each day, which indicates that the tester is consistently active during your test.
  • Don’t tell your testers the details. You can tell your testers that you’re tracking their participation, but don’t tell them which specific activities will earn them points. Otherwise you might influence them to focus on those activities at the expense of other contributions.
  • Don’t be afraid to give negative scores. All your scoring doesn’t have to increase your tester’s score. If they’re rude, unresponsive, or unhelpful, dock a few points from their score. This could add up over time to paint a clear picture by the end of the test that they aren’t worth including in the future.
  • Use scoring to ban terrible testers. Sometimes a tester should never be used on a test again. If they don’t return a product or violate your NDA, they need to be banned from future tests. If you delete or block their account, they might create a new one and sneak into another test. Instead, give the tester a large negative Community Score along with a comment about why they’ve been banned. They’ll still receive announcements about beta tests and be able to apply, but it will be obvious to your project managers that this tester shouldn’t be selected for any future tests.
  • Hold on to your top testers. Every test has a handful of testers that go far beyond what’s expected. These testers are a valuable resource and scoring makes it easy to spot them. Highlight your top testers by giving them additional rewards, asking them for testimonials, or putting them first in line for your next test. This will make them feel valued and more likely to continue being great testers in the future.
  • Reach out to testers with low scores. If you have a few testers that aren’t contributing in a constructive way, reach out to them. Clarifying your expectations of them as a tester or educating them on how to contribute to a beta test might be the push they need to become a great tester.
  • Add comments for everything. Make sure each scoring change includes a comment to explain why the score was given. This will make it much easier for someone to look at the tester’s comment log later and see at the glance why they have the score they do.

Scoring is an easy way to monitor your testers and improve your entire beta program. It helps you manage your testers in the short team and strengthen your community in the long term. With a little planning you can build these scoring best practices into all of your projects and create a consistent method for quantitatively evaluating your community members. For more advice on motivating and rewarding beta testers, check out our Beta Test Incentives Kit.

Download our Beta Test Incentives Kit now!

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