Beta testing is a type of user acceptance testing in which the product team delivers a near-finished product to a group of target users to evaluate the product’s performance in the real world.In this article we will understand Beta testing with real-life examples based on service and product based companies. It also covers procedure of doing beta testing.
A beta version is a version of a software or hardware product that is released to selected users for evaluation before its release to the general public. The word beta comes from the Latin word beta, which means test. Before a new product or service is released to the public, it undergoes beta testing. This process involves collecting data from beta users to determine if the product is ready for release. If so, the beta version will replace the alpha version and be released to the public.In this article we are going to explore Beta testing.
Table of contents
- What is beta testing?
- Real-life examples of beta testing
- When will the beta testing be done?
- Challenges in Beta testing
- How is beta testing done?
- Advantages of beta testing
- Disadvantages of beta testing
What is beta testing?
It is a type of user acceptance testing in which the product team delivers a near-finished product to a group of target users to evaluate the product’s performance in the real world.
There is no standard for what beta testing should look like or how to set it up. The actual test procedure should be relevant to your test goals.
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Real-life examples of beta testing
A restaurant chain releases a new mobile order and pickup system app. Before the company releases the functionality to all of its mobile app users, it tests the app with a small number of dedicated customers and provides them with rewards for participating.
Service-based company example
Suppose Infosys(a service-based company) is supposed to develop a website for railway booking for Indian railways. So after developing it, Infosys will do alpha testing first, in which the developers themselves will do the website testing. Then the beta testing will be done by the technical and non-technical users. Or Infosys will deploy the website in the production server of Indian railways, and now its employees will check if the train booking and cancellation is possible or not.
Product-based company example
Suppose Flipkart(a product-based company) has to develop an e-commerce platform. Then after development, it will ask its employees and stakeholders to check the platform’s working. The employees could be from technical or non-technical backgrounds. The bugs/issues will be suggested, and changes will be made accordingly.
When will the beta testing be done?
It is always done immediately after alpha testing is complete but before the product is launched (start of production/go live). Here, we expect the product to be at least 90%-95% complete (stable enough on all platforms, all features near or fully complete).
Ideally, all technology products should undergo a beta testing phase as they are primarily platform and process-dependent.
Products in beta testing must be validated against a specific readiness checklist before launch.
Challenges in Beta testing
- Identifying and recruiting the right participants is a big challenge.
- Participants may or may not have the necessary skills for the required level. They may not be technical experts who test every aspect of the product, and as a result, the product is tested to a very high standard.
- Hidden errors can be challenging to detect.
- Another challenge is gathering feedback.
- Not all feedback will be considered valuable or appreciated. To rate customer satisfaction, only relevant ones should be selected.
- Feedback needs to be communicated to the relevant teams, which is tedious for product management teams. Also, this testing doesn’t always have a clear plan.
How is beta testing done?
Define goals in advance. This will help you plan how many users you need to take the test and how much time you need to complete the test and reach your goals.
2. Recruiting participants
Ideally, any number of users can participate in the test. Still, due to budget constraints, the project should set minimum and maximum limits on the number of participating users. 50-250 users are typically targeted for products of moderate complexity.
3. Product Launch
The installation package should be distributed to the participants. Ideally, share a link that participants can download and install. Share user manuals, guides, known issues, testing scope, etc., with participants, and share error logging methods with participants.
4. Collect and Evaluate Feedback
The bug management process will handle bugs reported by participants. Feedback and suggestions are collected from participants based on their experience using the product. Feedback is evaluated to analyze and identify customers to satisfy our products. Suggestions to improve the product in the next version will be considered.
Once we reach a certain point, everything works, no errors occur, and the exit criteria are met, we decide to end the beta testing phase. Distribute rewards/incentives to participants according to the determined plan and formally thank them for maintaining good relationships (this helps with further beta testing of the product, feedback, suggestions, etc.).
Advantages of beta testing
- Large groups of users often perform this type of testing. This helps greatly expand the scope of your tests.
- Provides an additional level of testing/product validation for the product development lifecycle.
- It can help you find unexpected bugs that your internal QA team would miss.
- Usually cheaper than alpha testing. This builds trust with customers and increases customer satisfaction.
Disadvantages of beta testing
- Bug reporting of identified bugs is sometimes incorrect and unsystematic.
- A lot of the same faults will be there.
- Tests and test environments are not under the control of the development team.
- Reproducing bugs is often difficult because each user’s test environment differs.
- Too many issues can lead to negative publicity for your product. This is because the person testing the software is just an end user with no obligations to the development team.
A beta version is a pre-release sample used by developers and manufacturers for evaluating new products or software updates. Since it is intended for use by professionals and consumers alike, it will generally produce better results when appropriately tested in a controlled environment with informed users.
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