What are beta program metrics exactly? Which ones are important? Why do I need them?
These are the types of questions that suddenly pop into the minds of product and program managers when an executive team comes looking for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
I recently had an opportunity to work with Alex Larsen, the manager of the technical operations beta team at Trimble Transportation, on just that. His leadership team asked him to develop a framework for measuring the success of his beta team efforts.
I’m sharing this experience (with his blessing) because it provides some insight for other product and program managers who have questions about identifying key beta program metrics. By the end of this blog post, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how investing time into your beta program metrics can demonstrate your program’s worth to executive leadership.
Measuring Beta Program Success
Here’s some context to the task at hand: Alex has recently taken a management position at Trimble, where the leadership team asked him to implement metrics that could demonstrate the effectiveness of his beta program. His executives gave him four key categories they wanted him to measure: Quality, Satisfaction, Output, and Efficiency.
With his years of experience in Customer Validation, Alex had enough understanding of beta program metrics to get started. But he wanted to see what other insights he could gain before implementing those measurements. That’s why he reached out to Centercode’s Customer Success team.
Using the four categories outlined by Trimble’s leadership, we started down the path of identifying which specific metrics would fall into each one. Fun fact: there are a lot of metrics that a beta program can capture (it’s shocking, I know).
Before we go into the details of how Alex and our team decided which metrics would best showcase his beta program, here’s a simple piece of advice.
You Can’t Build Rome in a Day
It’s important for anyone looking to implement or improve their beta program metrics to know that there is no sense in trying to build Rome in a day. Grabbing millions of metrics when you first start out stretches your bandwidth too thin and makes it harder to keep up with those metrics as time goes on. Instead of trying to take on everything at once, start with a solid foundation (which we’ll cover shortly) and gradually add on from there.
I always recommend making a program metric roadmap. This is a backlog of metrics you can use to introduce new measurements over a period of time. Start by documenting a variety of metrics, then prioritize them (or ask your leadership to help you prioritize them). Finally, map out a plan to implement them over a period of time.
Creating a Framework for Beta Program Metrics
OK, let’s move on to the really good stuff: the beta program metrics we selected to measure Alex’s program and the categories they fall into.
Demonstrates the usefulness of the data collected from the beta program and its impact on the quality of products being tested.
If you can only capture one element of your program’s usefulness, this is it. Quality measures your resolution rate, which shows how the results of your beta are being used.
This metric is also easy to scale. Start by showcasing submitted issues, then build a plan for implementing idea and praise submissions into your product metric roadmap.
- How many issues did your beta testers surface?
- Of those issues, how many of them have been fixed?
Measures the satisfaction of products being tested by customers.
Most projects capture an attitudinal rating that helps the company understand how testers feel about your product during the beta project. This is a wonderful metric to use as an indicator of the overall happiness your testers experienced.
At the end of each project (or once every six months, if you are running an ongoing Delta Test), ask your testers how likely they are to recommend the product to a friend. I recommend using an 11-point scale that ranges from 0 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely). This will give your beta project a score between -100 to 100, similar to the Net Promoter Score (NPS).
- How likely are you to recommend this product? (0 – not very likely to 10 – very likely)
- What percentage of your testers selected 9-10 (Promoters)?
- What percentage of your testers selected 0-6 (Detractors)?
Used to demonstrate the volume of effort within the beta program.
Your leadership team may want to know the quantity of work that’s coming out of your beta program. Output is less informative when viewed alone – they’re just numbers after all – but it’s very useful within the context of other metrics.
- How many projects are complete?
- How many projects are open?
- How many testers have been managed from these projects?
- How much feedback has come in through these projects?
Measures the results of processes and team efforts from beta projects.
We like to think of this metric as “how well your beta projects are running.” One of the most straightforward ways to measure this is looking at tester participation and engagement.
- How many testers are logging in?
- How many testers are submitting feedback?
- How many testers are completing surveys?
Use these numbers with your Output metrics to establish a baseline. Then choose an area of your beta program to improve, update your process, and watch it to validate that it had the right effect.
Planning for the Future
A final bit of advice: implement a metric improvement plan. This is your timeline for reviewing your measurements and modifying processes to improve your program results. Having a clear plan makes your beta program metrics actionable. By showing continuous improvement to the program, its measurable impact and return on investment (ROI) will be obvious.
Metrics can be tricky, and identifying them without clear goals can lead you down a wild rabbit hole. While the measurements themselves are important for establishing value, what really matters is how you use them to improve your processes.
I hope this real-world example has helped you tap into a bigger vision for your program’s metrics and will get you started on a good path.
For more in-depth techniques and resources on demonstrating your beta program’s ROI, download the Beta Test ROI Kit.