When it comes to running private beta tests, maintaining confidentially among your testers is extremely important. No company wants valuable information about their product leaked to the public prematurely. That’s why we’ve chosen the top five simple best practices that can be used to significantly increase the security of your beta tests. We’d recommend taking these basic steps on every beta where secrecy is a concern.
1. Always Use an NDA
First off, always have a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place. The NDA is your first and most effective tool for ensuring secrecy. It spells out to the tester that you take this very seriously and that there will be consequences should they decide to share any details about the test. Everyone fears legal issues. Just make sure testers understand what they’re signing, and always go the extra step to spell out the terms in plain English. It’s helpful to cite specific text from the agreement and then remind them of the consequences of ignoring the agreement throughout the beta testing process.
2. Limit Who You Announce Your Test To
The amount of people that know about your beta test can sometimes mean a higher chance of a security breach. You should always try to limit the announcement of your beta test recruitment to the smallest audience possible, while still ensuring you still have an adequate number of candidates for your project (generally 5 to 10x the total number of testers you desire). This greatly decreases the odds that any snooping competitors might slip into your beta team.
3. Disclose Confidentiality Obligations Upfront
The initial announcement of the beta opportunity is also your first opportunity to communicate the importance of confidentiality to your testers. Before testers even apply, they should have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them so they aren’t surprised later. This is also a good place to make it clear that competitors and members of the press are not (currently) welcome within your beta test.
4. Have a Thorough Tester Selection Process
It’s important to be selective about who is participating in the test. All candidates should be taken through an application process that surveys them for key information. While most of this information is intended to profile them for the target market of the product, the same information will help you understand and research the users themselves. Results should be considered under heavy scrutiny, ensuring selection is focused on those who do not raise any red flags.
5. Keep Your Beta Test Small
It’s simple math — the more testers you have the greater chance that someone will leak information, unintentionally or otherwise. Given that industry average beta participation rates are in the range of 20-30%, most companies are forced to over-recruit 3 to 5 times as many testers to achieve their testing and feedback goals. Reducing these larger test teams can greatly reduce the risk of leaks.
When running your beta test, it’s important that you consistently remind testers of secrecy throughout all ongoing communication. Even small things, like labeling beta documents with notes that say “confidential” on them or periodic emails that remind testers of the importance of confidentiality, go a long way in making sure your testers don’t mistakenly leak information. If you keep secrecy at the forefront, testers will take it seriously too.
If you would like more in-depth information and best practices about maintaining beta secrecy and handling information leaks, download our free eBook: Keeping Beta Tests Confidential!