What Is a Beta-Testing Campaign?

First things first, what is a beta-testing campaign?

A beta-testing campaign is a sort of user acceptance testing. The aim is to release an early version of a software to a limited audience external to the programming team. 

Beta-testing is time-bound into what we call a campaign. The reason for the limited duration is to enable the development team to  rapidly improve the next version of the software after collecting feedback from potential users. 

The people in the target audience are called the beta testers. It is important that beta testers are external to the programming team, this way they can provide non biased objective feedback. Depending on the software beta testers are either IT professional or business users.

Setting-up a beta-testing campaign is a major step forward in the development cycle. The key components of a beta-testing campaign are: 

  • Reasonably mature software: the piece of software to be tested must be properly integrated and packaged with a functioning user interface so that occasional third party users can set it up and manipulate it.
  • Testing scenario: a beta-testing campaign aims at verifying the proper functioning of certain parts or functionalities of the software, so it is important that a testing scenario intuitively guides the beta testers.
  • Documentation: No software should ever be released without a documentation, even software to be beta tested, specially when beta testers are expected to download and install it before launching the beta-testing scenario.  

With that, setting up beta-testing campaigns has several key benefits for development teams and research projects:

  • Helps align expectations all members in the development team by providing them a single point of convergence.
  • Generates quality because a beta version usually undergoes a full cycle of internal system and usability testing.
  • Enforces product attributes, such as packaging, tutorials, documentation, installation, on-line user support, promotion, etc.
  • Helps identify exploitation opportunities reported by beta testers who are external potential users. 
  • Not only it helps finalize a product, it is also a marketing tactic that helps develop a base of early adopters. 

If a reasearch project can launch a beta testing campaign of its results it has what it takes to bring value to the market, engage with users, partners and complementors and develop its ecosystem.