The launch of any software product is a tense time for the company who has developed it. It is at this point of the software development life-cycle that is probably the most important. There are critical questions to be answered, for example; how much testing has been done?, what is the impact of anything going wrong?
To answer the question; how much testing has been performed can be fairly straight-forward to answer by reviewing the test documentation and conversing with the appropriate stakeholders. All too often though, the testing can be heavily focused on an environment that although was designed to replicate a customers environment, normally doesn’t quite live up to expectations. This can result in a software product being released with a high risk of failing in the end-users environment, even though it was heavily tested. Companies who develop software should go the extra mile and ensure that sufficient Beta Testing is performed prior to the actual release of the product. Often, a company will simply send a Beta version of their application to a customer or two hoping that’s enough. It almost certainly isn’t enough, and careful planning should go into choosing the right people to perform the Beta Testing. If suitable existing customers do not exist, then the developing company should consider a professional Beta Testing company to do it for them. A good Beta Testing company should be able to replicate any kind of environment required and perform the kind tests that will flush out the issues that may have been missed earlier on in the software development life-cycle.
A good example of this kind of situation can be found in the “new wave” of software that is around today, which is of course iPhone Apps. So many potentially good iPhone Apps are released without Beta Testing them. The developers/owners look at their poor ratings and ever decreasing sales figures wondering why its happening as their App is great and offers something unique. While the latter may be true, just looking at the iPhone App reviews, you will see so many users complaining that the App crashes when using even the most basic functionality. If the App developers took the time to hire a professional iPhone App Beta Tester, they could have easily avoided the issues and started their App’s shelf-life with positive reviews and subsequent high sales figures.
Beta Testers are not a specific kind of software tester, but merely a chosen group of individuals assigned with the task of looking for defects. The hardest task is choosing the right people to do the Beta Testing. Careful consideration should be made as to what kind of defects are we trying to find. It could be that there is a risk of the server systems will fail if there is a high load on it. In this case, some kind of Public Beta Test would be in order. If some kind of sanity test before the product’s release is required, then it could be simple as hiring a professional Beta Tester to do the testing.
The more consideration and planning that are put into a Beta Test, the chances of its effectiveness increase significantly. Consider hiring professionals where possible, and many will provide a free quote, fast turn-around and effective Beta Testing service. If you cannot afford a professional Beta Tester, then simply select appropriate personnel within your organization. If the selected people are given the right information about what they should be looking for, then this will often produce a surprisingly effective and in the long-term profitable exercise.