Congratulations, you have a winning product that is well received and growing fast. But with fast market growth comes a number of challenges, including testing your product to ensure continuous quality. Generally, when it comes to software testing, emerging growth companies use practices such as dogfooding, friends & family, and fix forward.  

Eating your own dog food

Dogfooding is the practice used when the development and product management team test the product themselves. It comes from the classic software development phrase, “eat your own dogfood.” To a certain degree, all development teams practice dogfooding but relying on it exclusively is risky. Probably the largest problem is the opportunity cost in time. As a rule of thumb, testing an app consumes about 30% of the overall development time – so if the developers and product managers are doing all the QA testing, they are not doing their own work at full capacity. A second issue is author-blindness – developers and PMs know how the app ‘should’ work and often have tunnel vision in their testing approach. They lack the perspective of a wide range of end-users. 

Beta testing with friends & family 

Using friends and family as your beta testers helps access a bigger pool of users (usually for free). And although that sounds great on paper, there are some challenges with borrowing time from people you know – while they may be a good approximation for your user base, these folks are not professional testers. Their feedback will most likely be vague and not wholly reflective of your actual target market. Furthermore, they certainly won’t have comprehensive test coverage to perform app testing on a wide combination of real platforms and devices.

Fixing forward

The fix forward strategy is where you publish your app and wait to get feedback from customers, in-app monitoring, or synthetic transactions. If an issue occurs, you then fix it and publish an update to the app. The main problem with this strategy is that until you deploy a bugfix, your customers will continue to experience that issue. Eventually, this will lead to poor brand reputation and loss of consumer loyalty. With that said, the fix forward strategy can be effective for websites, where the fix can be deployed in a manner of minutes. However, for mobile apps, you have to rely on the app stores to distribute your fix and on your users to upgrade the app on their device. 

Why networked testing makes sense

Both large brands and emerging growth companies benefit immensely from incorporating networked testing into their testing strategy. Networked testing helps companies gain access to a large number of on-demand, expert testers when needed. This, in turn, frees up your developers and product managers to continue creating new content for your customers. 

Expert networked testers help provide test coverage that can rival (and exceed) much larger teams of beta testers. These experienced testers will take a more comprehensive approach to testing, ensuring that the whole product is covered. Instead of vague feedback, they will provide actionable issue reports with clear steps to reproduce, log files, videos, and fault isolation across a magnitude of real devices

Unlike most crowdtesting approaches, networked testing uses a consistent set of testers to work on your app from cycle-to-cycle, which enhances the testing while reducing noise. The testers are available when and where needed, which contrasts with beta testers who are often donating their time. Furthermore, the ‘burstable’ nature of networked testers helps ensure that the development team gets timely feedback. With burstable test strategies, the testing team can quickly spring into action when a build is ready to test and provide results within a few hours, allowing the developers to continue creating new code. 

Networked testing pros & cons tables: Cost-efficient & scalable way to introduce expert testers, real-world devices, thorough test coverage, actionable insights on test coverage and issues.
Pros and cons: Dogfooding vs. Friends & Family vs. Fix Forward vs. Networked Testing

Regardless of company size, flexibility matters when it comes to managing quality assurance initiatives. The option of fully-managed or co-managed experiences is unique to the networked testing approach. For example, co-managed networked testing offers exceptional economics for emerging growth companies. Client and testing service providers share responsibilities and collaborate for increased speed, quick knowledge transfer, and cost savings.

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John Ruberto takes an engineering approach to quality and brings his experience as a QE Director/VP to Testlio. He has been leading quality engineering teams for more than 20 years.
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