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Buyer's Guide:
Beta Testing Tools

Are you in the right place?

If you’ve found your way here, you probably already know the benefits of beta testing tools. You know how the right tool can help with the effectiveness of your beta test and your ability to deliver valuable results to your stakeholders. Perhaps you have been considering adding a beta testing tool to your process for a while, or maybe you have just discovered how a tool could benefit your program.

Most likely, you will have started searching for a beta testing tool because you have asked one of these questions:

  • How can I speed up my beta tests?
  • How can I be more efficient when running beta tests?
  • How can I get more data from my beta test?
  • How can I improve the quality of the feedback from my testers?
  • How can I better align my team and communicate effectively with my stakeholders?
  • How can I increase my program visibility within my company?
  • How can I integrate the data collected from beta testing into our other systems?

If so, you are in the right place! This guide will give you the lowdown on what to consider when looking for and comparing beta testing tools.

What should you consider when looking for beta testing tools?

If you are here, most likely, you are already running a beta testing program (if not, check out…). Beta testing is your first product launch, and it is the first time you will gain customer feedback or identify any significant issues with your product before launch. It is also how you can give your stakeholders peace of mind that any of the features you have built will be successful.

When looking at beta testing tools, aligning how you want testing done and how it will be most effective in your company is crucial. Here are five critical questions you should ask yourself when researching beta testing tools:

  • What does your beta testing program look like today?
  • What are the types of beta testing tools?
  • What beta testing features to look for?
  • How will you integrate your beta testing tool with business systems?
  • How can you build a basic budget for beta testing tools?

What does your beta testing program look like today?

Look at your beta testing program. Think about your last beta test; what results? Did the results influence our decisions? Consider these questions. They can give you a clearer picture of what gaps and opportunities you may have and what you want to get out of a test management tool.

To fully consider what your beta testing program looks like today, here is a list of questions to ask yourself:

  • What things did I build or configure before, during, and after the beta test?
  • What was time-consuming?
  • Where did I spend most of my time? Least?
  • Was the test challenging? Easy?
  • What did we learn from the beta test?
  • How did we use the data and results?
  • What could we do better?
  • Was I confident during the beta test? After?
  • Was I happy with the results?
  • Were my stakeholders happy with the results?

What are the types of beta testing tools?

Every company has unique processes for beta testing management. Some companies have a mature program, with dozens of beta program managers running tests. In contrast, others rely on product managers to run beta tests for their products. To narrow the tools used for beta testing, we'll separate them into two categories of solutions:

  • All-in-one: a beta testing tool housing most of the activities one would use in a beta test—tools like Centercode, TestFlight, and BetaTesting.
  • Point or Ad-hoc: a tool designed to complete a specific task but not purpose-built for beta testing—tools like SurveyMonkey, UserTesting, and MS Outlook.

Companies may use ad-hoc test management software tools they already have in their tech stack because they believe it will save time and effort to avoid investing in purpose-built beta testing tools. As a result, their test management process uses multiple tools to help them get the job done. Sometimes these companies' beta programs have yet to prove enough value to justify investment in new beta test management tools.

Other companies have seen the value of their testing program and invested in improving the team’s results with all-in-one test management tools. Alternatively, the decision to invest in an all-in-one test management tool could stem from a poor product launch or negative publicity around a product launch. As a result, they feel it's appropriate to address the problem by investing in a complete solution for beta testing to prevent the situation from happening again. Proactive investments in beta testing tools can sometimes be difficult, but reactive investments can be costly.

What features to look for in beta test management tools?

Ideally, you find a beta testing tool that centralizes all the activities that both testing administrators and actual test participants experience while testing. By keeping all of these activities in one place, you will reduce friction for both your team and your customers that will be participating as testers. Whether or not you plan on investing in an all-in-one solution or ad-hoc tools, you'll need to account for the following beta testing tool features to ensure you run a bang-up beta test.

Here are 6 basic features you should look out for:

  1. Tester community: The ability to create (and maintain) a community or a panel for user testing is crucial to finding quality testers for your beta testing activities. This  is what holds the data on your testers – all the information about them, both demographic and technographic in addition to the ability for them to signup for beta tests.
  2. White label branding: Imagine you were signing up for a company's beta program but it didn't have any branding on it, would you put in your information? With the amount of phishing and sketchy websites out there, branding can build trust and credibility in your beta test, without that you'll see fewer signups and less willingness to provide detailed feedback.
  3. Project Configuration - Test designer: How long will my test be? How many testers will I need? What will I need to test? How do I create tests that will get the information I need without overwhelming my testers? These are some of the most common questions when building out a beta project. A test designer can help identify these critical components to your project. 
  4. Participant recruitment: A way to invite testers or provide the ability to sign up for testing is imperative, how else would you recruit them? This feature can be the creation of sign up pages, link creation, and messaging to join.
  1. Tester feedback collection: During your testing you'll need to ensure you have the ability to receive feedback from testers. Feedback can come in many shapes and forms, with screenshots, videos, and logs to help set some context. Collecting feedback will likely require the ability to collaborate with the submitter or other testers to understand the impact or get clarity. Remember this is the true source of information on your product, so ensure it's easily organized and prioritized so you can get a sense of how well your product is doing.
  2. Content management system: It's common for beta tests to have pages that communicate instructions (when tests will begin and end, updates about new tests or information about bugs) or manage legal agreements like NDAs and participation agreements  so having a system to be able to distribute content to your testers can be helpful.

How will you integrate your beta testing tool with business systems?

You already have tools like Jira, Slack, and Salesforce systems for everyday business tasks. How your test management software integrates and flows between to communicate with your current tools is crucial to its adoption and ultimately its success. Think about the last time you ran a beta test; how did you get any issues or bug testers had identified into a workflow for your engineering team? If the answer isn’t that your test management tools integrate with Jira, then you probably spent time manually creating Jira (or similar) tickets and playing the middleman to address any follow-up questions with testers via email. Using test management tools that integrate with Jira and others will reduce the time you spend doing tedious busy work and allow you to focus on what matters.

Here is a list of questions that are useful as you think about integrations between your test management tools and other business systems:

  • What test data management tools do we use to take action on feedback or results from our beta testing?
  • What test reporting tools do we use to keep stakeholders informed?
  • What tools can/do we use to enrich our beta testing data?
  • Do the tools I use today for beta testing offer integrations?

How long will it take to set up your beta testing tools?

Whether you are using in-house tools or purchasing a new test management solution, there are still time investments to setting up your beta testing tools. Most systems aren't designed explicitly for beta testing and can cause you to spend additional time or resources to set up work arounds to have the system support your testing process. Establishing new testing management tools can also take time on the front end to learn and set up but can pay-off by saving time once you are up and running. Here are some time concerns you will want to consider when deciding on beta testing tools:

  • How much time will you need to spend to learn the tool and do you have access to any support to learn the tool or a way to ask questions? 
  • Can you manage the entire beta testing flow within one tool or will you need to piece together tools to support an ideal beta test flow? If not, how much time will you need to account for in workarounds? 
  • Does the tool support beta testing best practices and allow you to save time by replicating testing procedures for each new beta? If not, how much time will you need to add into your testing prep and management? 
  • Does the tool integrate into key systems (like Jira and Salesforce) to save time when passing data to other teams? 
  • Does the test management tool allow you to easily create reports and share your data with stakeholders? If not, how much time will you need to allocate to building reports and dashboards?

How can you build a basic budget for beta testing tools?

The first step to developing a baseline budget for evaluating test management tool cost, is to compare the cost of platforms already in your tech stack. Identifying your current test management software expenses and what you get in return is a great way to build that starting budget.

Here's a list of things you can consider when starting to build your budget:

  • The cost of tools you are using today
  • The cost of resources required to complete tasks and time spent
  • The cost of devices and incentives for testers
  • The number of beta tests completed in a year

Why should you use Centercode as your beta testing solution?

Centercode offers a complete solution that reduces both the know-how and the time necessary to run a successful test while providing a modern experience to your testers, supported by advanced technology to ensure your results are actionable and genuinely improve your product. 

Let's see how Centercode provides those 6 basic features:

  1. Tester community: With Centercode, you can recruit, house, and nurture your company's beta test program with ease. Provide your future testers a great initial experience with a simple-to-use website. Collect valuable profile data, make announcements about upcoming tests or crucial company information, and use powerful filters to recruit the right group of interested testers for all your user tests. See how F-Secure built a 12,000-person beta community with Centercode.
  1. White label branding: With all the scams on the internet your testers can be naturally wary of unbranded sites. With Centercode, you give your testers confidence they are reaching a credible site that looks like your company. Build a beautiful beta site with your logo, brand colors, and images to give your testers a fully branded experience  from sign up to through test completion.
  1. Participant recruitment and onboarding: Finding the right testers can be time consuming, but not finding the right testers can torpedo your test. With Centercode, you can quickly create beta sign up pages, custom links to join projects for all your recruitment channels and even add surveys and agreements to be signed to create a seamless (fully branded) experience for testers.
  1. Project Configuration - Test designer: Centercode has baked our decades of beta testing best practices into the platform and created a system that allows you to easily design your beta test. Simply input (or upload in spreadsheet form) the features you want to be tested, the activities for testers to complete, and indicate the priority of the feature to the overall product. Easily plan your entire project.
  1. Tester feedback collection: Use Centercode to collect Issues, Ideas, Praise, and survey data from testers and all your data will be organized in one spot with automated prioritization to discover the most impactful feedback on your product. Eliminate multiple channels of tester data with a centralized, organized single source, and Centercode directly integrates into Jira to seamlessly get feedback to the right team.
  1. Tester communication: With Centercode you can eliminate tracking legal agreements in spreadsheets and email flags. Instead, create custom web pages that can be used for product resources, instructions, rules, announcements, and anything else you would need to communicate with testers during your beta test.

How Centercode helps companies…

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