Setting up a pilot/beta program today has never been more important. It has become a necessity in enabling a business with a proactive approach to testing, and is a crucial element in delivering customer-centric solutions.

Technology products are advancing so quickly that what seems cutting-edge or innovative today becomes outdated and irrelevant tomorrow. Customers who were once amazed by simple product features are now demanding an increasingly intuitive experience, even from technology they consider to be ‘everyday’.

According to the recent State of the Connected Customer report, 67% of today’s customers say their standard for good experiences is higher than ever, and 76% say they expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.

In the race for innovation, some businesses are blazing trails by beta and pilot testing their products, experimenting with new features to create reliable, forward-thinking tech. But some others are struggling to get their beta testing programs off the ground.

Beta testing: the backbone of any business


There are four main reasons why beta testing should be at the heart of a product development strategy:

  1. First and foremost, it means that products will remain up-to-date and continue to meet shifting market expectations. Modern customers expect new technologies such as AI and IoT to change their relationship with organisations. In this new landscape, it is important that products keep up.
  2. By rolling out agile, small-scale pilots, you can see what works in your market without risking enormous damage to your budget – or to your reputation – should there be a bug or glitch.
  3. If customer experience isn’t enough of a motivator, perhaps competition is. If you are not constantly striving to optimise your product, one of your competitors will beat you to it. Regular beta testing ensures your product remains (or becomes) relevant.
  4. By practicing beta testing, you get your head out of your own product. We all know how it is when you invest a long time in getting something right – all too often, you can't see the wood for the trees. Innovation is all about merging different perspectives to get to the best result. By letting outsiders in on your creation to provide feedback during the beta testing period, you will receive a different, honest viewpoint.



Successful beta testing comes down to process


Beta testing should follow a scientific process, or it’s bound for failure. By having a repeatable methodology, you can keep your testing schedule agile and respond to market movements quickly, and ensure your teams know the right process will keep testing on track and efficient.

Most businesses should operate on the same basic process to get products to market:

  • Test your product on a very small sample group – often, these people are other employees from the business or their friends and family. This round of testing often allows any big, glaring errors to be fixed.
  • Roll your product out to a larger group – this is all about testing at scale. Since it’s a beta scheme, some brands can choose to apply terms and conditions, meaning that users are testing it at their own risk. But some customers are so keen to try the next best thing that they are happy to be part of the experiment.
  • Make the final tweaks based on user feedback to get your product ready for general availability.
  • The real go-live – making the product generally available for everyone.
  • Back to the beginning – the very best constantly monitor and optimise, and avoid future technical debt by decommissioning when no longer needed.

"Beta testing should follow a scientific process, or it’s bound for failure."


There are plenty of tools out there to help with your beta testing, such as Jira or Rally. Stay informed about latest developments in the industry and work with your team to ensure your tools are right for your business.


Don’t forget the admin


Often, brands will ask beta testing groups to complete a Non-Disclosure Agreement. This means that if any problems arise with the product during tests, users cannot communicate them to the media or to market competitors.

Having a few formalities in place – even if testing among family and friends – protects the business, its reputation and its intellectual property, especially in the early stages of product testing.

Innovation is broader than just one team in a business


When it comes to creating a market-leading product, the whole organisation needs to be behind it. The concept of testing, learning and continuous improvement should not be something reserved for the product development team.


"When it comes to creating a market-leading product, the whole organisation needs to be behind it."


Empower the wider company to provide feedback and have their say – after all, they are a ready-made user panel. Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to building the best beta program for your business.

For more advice on setting up a pilot/beta program for your business, download the Advisory Services e-book: Transforming business through strategic technical guidance today.