With businesses experiencing setbacks, building a product that stands out amongst your competition is critical. While layoffs or budget freezes can leave you with fewer resources, customers expect that their money gets them a quality product, especially in a downturn.
Can you afford to release an average product?
Releasing a product or update that is buggy can be risky during economic uncertainty. Will your business withstand negative customer reviews, product returns, floods of support calls or churn? It's going to be tough, but you'll need to ensure your product not only has product market fit, but it's high quality and easy to use.
How to release a great product with fewer resources
Leaders may not realize that customers can be a cheap and effective resource to test products, find bugs, and validate fixes. Many companies have a beta program that’s supposed to help with this, but results aren't reliable. The best performing companies have taken that gamble and turned it into a system that works every time. We recommend trying out different testing methods to see what works best based on your situation to help you address some of the risks you are up against.
How to use Delta Testing to extend your QA testing
Utilizing different testing methods based on your situation can really work to your advantage and help to keep product quality high while using fewer resources. To determine which testing method will work best, it’s going to depend on your desired end goal and it will come down to the amount of time and effort you’re able to put in.
Let’s take a look at some of the different testing methods you may want to take advantage of – we’ll go over what they are, the benefits they provide, and ways that delta testing can support.
Exploratory, functional, or acceptance testing is done by attempting to use a product’s features as the user would. This is different from non-functional, unit, or end-to-end testing which requires knowledge and access to how the product is built. With exploratory testing the goal is to try all of the features and make sure they work and function as intended.
The problem with exploratory testing is that it can take a long time, because someone has to explore all of the different options and ways that each function might be used - and hope they don’t miss some unintended use cases. This is a luxury when you have a big team or time, but by using delta testing you expand this testing without needing expensive internal resources.
Save your highly trained quality assurance resources to automated testing or validating issues found by user testers. Then provide your delta testers who love a good challenge customers try it within their own environments and use cases. You'll find new use cases that are outside of what would have been developed within your organization, and probably identify many gaps.
Device testing is done to ensure that a product works with other specific devices, and does not have little defects that keep it from functioning as designed. Many products are built to work on a variety of other products, frequently from other companies. Headphones need to attach to sources, mugs need to fit into cup holders, and apps need to work on a variety of phones. Testing the most common devices requires access to those devices, and this can mean a big, expensive lab and a lot of time.
Your testers probably own and use these devices already. Part of delta is knowing, and selecting, the demographic and technographics of your test group. By having a catalog of the devices your testers own you're able to easily ask certain ones to test on their devices. This can save you thousands of dollars, equipment and personnel costs, and even more to run the test.
Environment, or ecosystem testing is done to ensure that when a new product is introduced it does not cause problems for the existing environment. Most modern homes have more than 6 products that are connected together somehow. If your product will interact with them, it’s going to be part of that environment.
Similar to device testing, trying to replicate even the most common scenarios requires knowledge of the environments, the equipment, and time for set up and testing. An obvious advantage to Delta testing is that these environments already exist within your target market. Bring in testers who have the environment you're looking for and let them test it for you.
A soak test, or sometimes referred to as a field test is done by using the product in a specific environment for a long period of time. This test is done to find issues that might not show up quickly, or on the first (or 20th) try. Think of a product that starts showing wear after being washed a dozen times, or after a couple weeks in high-humidity environments. This frequently uncovers significant issues that would have been missed by running through scripts or test plans.
Because your delta testers are your actual target market, they will use and reuse your product in their everyday life.
User testing’s purpose is to make sure that a product or feature can actually be used, and is useful, to the target audience. Usability and usefulness. When done well the goal is to find ways to delight the person using the product. At its heart, user testing is done to find features that are working “as designed” but that aren’t usable or useful in their current form.
66% of usability issues can be self-reported, and often are by Delta testing groups. A real bonus to Delta testing is the user experience feedback that you will naturally get. Delta testing categorizes feedback into issues, ideas, and praise. The issues are going to give you the bugs oh, but the ideas will give you the experience feedback you need to make a great product.
Similar to environment testing of a Business to Consumer (B2C) product, integration testing ensures that a Business to Business (B2B) product works with other products well. Most business systems are integrated with other systems. A common example of this is sending alerts to Slack or Teams, but there are countless others. Integration testing goes both deep and wide. There are endless possible scenarios for how something might be configured paired with limitless types of data that have to move between the products.
By using delta testing to bring your customers or prospects into your development cycle you significantly reduce the number of scenarios you have to run in-house. There is the added benefit of getting functional feedback from delta testers, in addition to validating use cases and finding outliers. This both frees up your team to conduct automated and stress testing, while still providing the confidence you need from hundreds or thousands of “tests''. All that’s being fast-tracked alongside internal testing to keep you on schedule.
Do More With Less
We recommend taking a look at how your current beta test program can be made into a modern delta testing program which will transform it into a functioning system that will support you and your team through this hard time. Incorporating delta testing throughout the product development life cycle enables you to expand your quality test and iterate quickly on updates, driving faster innovations that are essential to outpacing competitors.
To learn more about how delta testing can help you thrive during these tough times, download our Delta Testing: A Survival Guide to Economic Downturn ebook.