uGovernIT

A Practical Approach for IT Governance

The Role of Beta Testing

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A large majority of the Google applications stay in Beta Testing mode for a long time. The benefits are obvious: Beta Testing is an economical way to get user feedback, improve product quality, and equally important, gain user adoption. While the benefits are well understood, the costs are not so obvious. Too often product developers enter the Beta Testing mode with a product that is just not ready. I offer some guide lines in this monograph:

Rule 1: Never use Beta Testing to identify software bugs. It may happen, but great care must be undertaken to ensure that the product is rigorously tested, preferably by an independent group before embarking on Beta Testing.

Rule 2: Beta Testing should not be used to identify major functional gaps. These should be done systematically using focus groups of qualified users.

Rule 3: Beta Testing is not a substitute for Pilots. Organizations will still need to deploy the product (depending on complexity) incrementally, and Pilots are a good mechanism to adopt the product. This rule is particularly apt when the product inherently changes the underlying business process.

Used correctly, Beta Testing can be a powerful tool for improving product quality. On the other hand, when the rules identified above are blatantly violated, then the costs are dramatic. The company loses credibility and future products will be treated with apprehension.

Written by Subbu Murthy

August 6, 2011 at 1:16 pm

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