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Test Planning

The Key Beta Objectives for Product Managers

December 30, 2014

No matter what role you play in the development of a product, at some point you may be tasked with running a beta test. To continue on with our blog series outlining the various objectives people in different roles have during a beta test, this week we’ll be outlining the specific objectives that product managers have while putting their product through beta.

Product managers invest much of their time in ensuring that the overall customer experience is fantastic. This means evaluating every piece of the product to ensure that it meets the customer’s needs and works as expected when the customer pulls it out of the box. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key beta objectives that fit the needs of product managers.

Assess customer acceptance

For new products, products introducing substantial new functionality, or products aimed at a small defined audience, beta offers the ability to achieve legitimate customer acceptance. This ensures that the product meets the specific demands of its audience. Similarly, in the MVP (minimum viable product) context, beta can help establish the minimum feature set for a lean launch.

Evaluate the customer experience

Beta testing gives product managers the opportunity to ensure that all of the product components (including installation, documentation/training, support, delivery, etc.) perform as expected prior to release. Beta testing shines a light on any weak aspects of the customer experience so they don’t surprise you during release.

Solicit feature requests

While it’s ultimately the product designer’s job to develop a strategic roadmap, the process is rarely done in a vacuum. Beta testing offers a significant source of early inspiration from the product’s target audience. While it’s likely too late to implement most of the suggestions gathered in a beta test, this pool of information offers insight that can be leveraged when looking ahead to future revisions of the product.

Find and fix bugs

It’s nearly impossible for QA to run tests with every platform, peripheral, or product that might interact with yours. This may result in hidden defects in your product. Beta testing helps fill those gaps by providing real-world usage in a wide variety of different environments and scenarios. Testers will often use the product in different ways than expected, which could also uncover show-stopping bugs that QA didn’t find. This gives you the chance to make critical improvements that could mean the difference between a successful and failed product launch.

Assess the real-world impact of known issues

Sometimes, your QA team will have a list of known issues in the product that have yet to be addressed. Beta is a great opportunity to gauge how widespread these issues are and build a game plan for handling them. Beta testing also gives you a pool of customers to test out fixes or provide feedback on the support experience as you make improvements.

Collect testimonials and customer references

Beta participants are the first customers who possess real experience with your product. This presents the opportunity to collect valuable testimonials for your marketing and PR teams. With high-cost or B2B products, you can also use beta participants as customer references, so the sales team can hit the ground running.

These are just some of the objectives you can focus on during your beta test. If you’re looking for more ideas, take a look at our complete list of the most common beta testing objectives. Each product (and therefore each beta test) is going to be different, but we’ve found that these core objectives will help product managers reach their goals and launch better, much more successful, products.

Be sure to check out our posts on the objectives of marketing and beta managers, and check out our ebook on how modern Customer Validation addresses today’s product challenges.

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