Request info

Comparing Alpha vs. Beta Testing (and how to use both)

Dev projects are complex, and making a rich and robust user experience relies heavily upon testing the results before final production. Testing can be divided into alpha vs. beta testing, but on a continuum of software testing needs, both are mutually critical to a modern DevOps strategy.

When performed with high-level testers in real-world scenarios, alpha and beta testing strategies give your organization crucial information about a project’s performance to deliver a great final product to your customer base. 

What is Alpha Testing?

Alpha testing takes a high-level approach to identify and fix bugs before releasing the software to a bigger audience. An internal QA team or select customers usually do alpha testing on-site or in a lab. The testers may simulate real-world scenarios to test the software’s functionality, performance, and usability. They may also perform various types of testing, such as functional, performance, security, and compatibility.

Alpha testing is done in cycles, with successive cycles reviewed for overall function and potential faults. This can be done through multiple processes until all significant flaws are addressed, and functionality is confirmed. Feedback and issues discovered during alpha testing are used to improve the software and fix bugs or defects. Once the problems are resolved, the software may undergo beta testing (more on this later!)

Alpha testing is a crucial step in modern DevOps that can inform the development team of the stability and overall quality of the product itself. Testing at this stage uncovers flaws or faults in a program well before it heads toward the final development stages.

What is Beta Testing in Software Development?

Think of alpha vs. beta testing as stage 1 and stage 2 of your final stages of testing before release. The app should be functional and stable enough to use but still need another pass to identify final minor faults, performance bugs, and UX issues that can be resolved before moving to final production.

Testing here isn’t as focused on discovering faults and functionality issues. Instead, when released to an external testing group, it allows for seeing how secure, reliable, and usable your product may be. This is done through black box testing, meaning testers aren’t given specific criteria to remember. 

Beta testing generally relies upon manual input from testers; however, automation can produce repeatable results, which help discover underlying faults users may not find during testing. Repeatable results also allow functionality testing while gathering valuable data points.

Creating a winning beta testing strategy

Start by answering the following:

  • What is the business objective for the product? Set out definite goals to achieve. 
  • How participants will approach the testing. Test cases, 
  • What tools will be utilized to log bugs, measure productivity, and collect feedback? 
  • How will the testing phase end?

A vital part of a successful beta test: is a detailed plan. This plan should include the following: 

  • Objective. Why are you doing this beta test? Do you want feedback on UX? UI? Bug reports? 
  • Scope. How many devices and O/S combinations are you going to test? Will you test the entire system or use the 80/20 method?
  • Test approach. How will you be logging flaws? Any specific tests to run? Exploratory or metered testing? 
  • Schedule. Set up a strict calendar with cycles.
  • Tools. What programs will be used?
  • Budget. Can you afford incentives? Are you paying per hour, per bug?
  • Feedback. How will you collect and organize feedback?

Then, for the exit criteria, you will need to ensure you meet these requirements:

  • No system failure faults
  • A beta test summary report
  • Complete the sign-off process for ending beta testing

Software on a spectrum: Alpha vs beta testing

Alpha and beta testing aren’t mutually exclusive testing phases. You could and should use both alpha and beta testing to ensure the functionality of your software; examining Alpha vs. Beta testing is more about when to use each. It provides an invaluable basis for projects to confirm functionality, address flaws, and gain valuable data points through white-box and black-box testing methods. 

Regular alpha and beta testing can be used in a constant integration/constant deployment methodology, a core tenet of Agile DevOps. This means code is improved on an incremental basis frequently and regularly. Alpha and beta testing provide crucial coverage regarding your product’s function, security, reliability, and usability.