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Product Development

Tackling the Challenges of Beta Testing in a COVID World

June 5, 2020

The obvious: your revenue depends on your ability to launch a quality product.

The not-so-obvious: figuring out how to drive up that quality efficiently when your production schedule has been disrupted, your processes are changing, and you’re grappling with both internal and external factors that are beyond your control.

Even as we cautiously hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, working remotely has changed the way organizations operate from the top down. For companies launching products and running beta tests, disruptions to the product development process and shifts in how companies are allocating resources means pushing against long-standing systemic challenges, like gaining stakeholder buy-in, recruiting target market testers, and creating reliable, repeatable processes.

With a potential recession on the horizon, there’s never been a better time to prove that beta testing before launch leads to better product quality, usability, and customer satisfaction.

We interviewed our customers and learned about the problems that exist for companies launching products in today’s work-from-home environment. Here’s a list of the biggest challenges facing beta tests and how to overcome them without skipping a beat.

Challenge: Communicating with Stakeholders

With many teams still working remotely and facing dramatic changes to how and when to return to the office, easing friction in collaboration and increasing visibility are essential to delivering truly useful results from beta testing. But with teams physically scattered and using many disparate systems, keeping beta testing data up-to-date outside of their silos is an added layer of work that most testing professionals don’t have time to do.

Where the Difficulty Lies

  • Collaborating with stakeholders. While the transition to remote work has increased the number of meetings and team sync-ups, the lack of in-person contact has made communicating — from “stopping by” for a quick chat to setting aside time for in-depth collaboration — more difficult. It’s harder than ever to get your stakeholders to participate meaningfully in the beta test planning process.
  • Securing stakeholder buy-in. The same changes in communication are also limiting the ability to secure buy-in. This is two sides of the same coin; without consistent, in-depth communication to know exactly what your stakeholders need, delivering results that align with departmental goals and fit their priorities is like hitting a moving target.
Tackling the Challenges of Beta Testing in a COVID World

How We’re Helping: The Centercode Platform

The Centercode Platform allows you to perform all the tasks of beta testing in one place, keeping your data centralized, organized, and visible, which means that real customer feedback is captured and prioritized so that your team can take action before the product is launched.

The platform seamlessly integrates with your existing systems — from ticketing software like Jira to a CMS like Salesforce — so your engineering, QA, product, and support teams have real-time access to the data they need in the tools they’re already using. With project templates, custom dashboards, smart engagement automation, and beautiful, pre-formatted reports, it offers you a plug-and-play approach to beta test management that lets you focus your time where it matters most: on turning pre-release customer feedback into game-changing product recommendations.

Challenge: Recruiting Testers

Recruiting enthusiastic, target market testers was hard for teams well before the onset of COVID-19. For many, the pandemic has intensified these challenges and the obstacles that come along with them, such as tester drop-off and not getting enough feedback.

Where the Difficulty Lies

  • Finding target market candidates. Many teams struggle to attract and recruit test candidates from their product’s target audience, making it hard to reliably determine product satisfaction before release.
  • Thoroughly testing your product on your target market’s technology. Mirroring the technological diversity of today’s users is challenging and expensive, even for the most robust QA lab. With remote work limiting access to those labs, many organizations are struggling to make sure their products have been adequately tested before launch, and that they’ll operate seamlessly with their customers’ existing technology.
  • Increasing engagement and high-quality feedback. Even when they’ve managed to get the right number of beta testers, many teams are still having trouble maintaining tester engagement and collecting enough meaningful feedback to produce quality insights.
Tackling the Challenges of Beta Testing in a COVID World

How We’re Helping: Tester Network

Centercode’s tester network gives you a direct line to your target market. With 230,000+ curated testers, you can access the exact audience you want to provide feedback.

Whether you’re in need of technical users or a niche audience segmentation, you’ll have access to experienced and reliable testers who are ready to give accurate, detailed, and abundant product feedback.

Challenge: Combating Time Constraints

With remote work seemingly becoming the norm and a potential recession on the horizon, companies are getting leaner and you might be taking on more responsibilities as it pertains to beta testing. The vast majority of beta testing professionals already manage their projects alongside other job responsibilities, so performing these tasks is like stacking plates on a pile that’s already full.

There are also external factors to contend with — shipping delays that impact supply chain, launch dates getting pushed, or even launch dates that aren’t moving despite a two-month production layoff during shelter-in-place. With beta testing coming at the end of the product development lifecycle, it’s a likely task to get cut from the end of the project schedule.

Where the Difficulty Lies

  • Increased communication taking up time and focus. Working remote means teams need more communication and sync ups to keep everyone on the same page. This also means that more of the workweek gets blocked out for meetings. While communication is essential to effective beta management, it eats into the time needed for critical but time-intensive tasks like recruitment, tester engagement, feedback triage, and analysis.
  • Limited availability of test units. With the pandemic disrupting supply chains across the globe, many testing teams are uncertain about the number of beta hardware units they’ll be able to get their hands on.
Tackling the Challenges of Beta Testing in a COVID World

How We’re Helping: Centercode Managed Services

Centercode’s program management services provide a turnkey solution that will manage through those challenges for you. From recruiting users in your target market, to designing projects that secure feedback with fewer testers and beta units, to handling shipping and returns, Centercode’s CPM team will deliver the results you are looking for — minus the headaches.

Tell Us What You Need

Times are hard, and we’re not out of the woods yet. Luckily, you don’t have to go on this path alone. Our experts are here to listen to your specific challenges and help you figure out exactly what you need to move forward.

Let’s Hash Out a Solution

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