Customer validation is a crucial stage of the product development lifecycle, but we’ve found that the beta testing industry across the board is still in its infancy. Between a fragmentation in the terminology used for this type of testing and no standard for who is in charge of these tests within a company, there are many challenges still facing the industry.
In an industry survey we conducted earlier this year of professionals from more than 260 tech companies, we found that, for the vast majority, there is currently no aspect of beta testing that companies find easy to achieve. For the respondents who felt they had ineffective customer validation programs, there were three main detractors:
Many respondents said they don’t have enough resources dedicated to their customer validation program. This includes not only lacking the right kinds of tools and sufficient time for testing but also not having a dedicated customer validation team within the company to manage beta tests and test participants.
When asked what would help improve their program, one QA manager said, “A more focused and dedicated team whose primary job was beta test management, and probably some tools to better manage/interact with beta testers.”
This challenge is especially apparent when you consider that while 38% of the respondents said they’re tasked with running customer validation tests as part of their job, only 12% manage the tests as their primary responsibility. For the majority, who are in charge of running beta tests as only one part of their job, they are often required to prioritize various other responsibilities and the needs of other stakeholders instead of their customer validation program.
No Established Processes
Another key challenge that many companies face is not having any standardized processes for their program. Having established processes makes running a beta test (or even multiple beta tests) easier to manage.
In our survey, a head of product development said that consistency and repeatability would make their beta tests a lot more effective, as they didn’t currently have a process. Similarly, a project manager explained that at their company, “I think we mostly throw it out there and see what we get back. If we had an actual plan and strategy, we would be able to leverage our beta testing stage better.”
By establishing standardized processes, you can ensure that the data and feedback you gather is actionable and usable. It’ll help you plan for the information you want to gain from a test, as well as better manage your tests, testers, resources, and time, all of which will increase the impact and effectiveness of your customer validation program.
Juggling Too Many Tools
The last primary challenge facing respondents was having to juggle multiple tools to manage the test and testers. You can collect a lot of different types of feedback from a test during the customer validation stage, including bug reports, surveys, and forums. But, if you’re using a number of disjointed systems to collect that feedback, you’re creating a complex and frustrating environment for yourself and your testers.
A lot of key information and feedback can be easily lost when using different tools for gathering feedback, and low participation rates from your testers become common if they’re required to deal with multiple logins. Another product manager explained in their survey response that their customer validation program would benefit from, “Improvements to the tooling that’s used for participants to file feedback and defects.”
This is a challenge that we at Centercode readily understand. That’s why the Centercode platform is designed to hold the entire beta testing process within a single place, to give you and your testers a consistent, cohesive experience for your customer validation program. Our own team of beta managers (as well as hundreds of others around the globe) use our software every day to run standardized beta tests with higher participation rates and better results. If you haven’t seen Centercode in action yet, request a demo!
The above challenges illustrate the reasons why so many companies feel their customer validation programs are ineffective and the main issues they are dealing with. However, while many respondents may not be seeing the results that they’d like to be seeing from their customer validation program, a majority do believe that a successful program helps companies plan, build, and release better products, as well as increase customer satisfaction, retention, and perception of the product.
To dive deeper into these results, check out the Centercode Beta Testing Industry Survey Report 2016.