marketing sales roundtable beta program best practices november 2004 l.
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Marketing & Sales Roundtable Beta Program Best Practices November 2004. Agenda. 11:30 – Introductions/Objectives 11:45 - Beta Program Best Practices: Presentation and Discussion 1:15 – Summary and Wrap-up. What Do We Mean: “Beta Test”?.

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Presentation Transcript

11:30 – Introductions/Objectives

11:45 - Beta Program Best Practices: Presentation and Discussion

1:15 – Summary and Wrap-up

what do we mean beta test
What Do We Mean: “Beta Test”?
  • Testing of a working product performed by real users in a production environment
  • Last test before formal product launch, production shipments begin (GA)
  • A test of all elements and process required for successful GA product

The Beta program definition will be driven by product category and type of users – HW, SW, Services

objectives for a beta program
Objectives for a Beta Program


  • Gain deeper understanding of how product works in a ‘real world’ environment
  • Stress products more completely and in different ways than in a lab setting
  • Fine-tune product/service functionality (tweak vs. major overhaul)
  • Test configuration planning, installation and support procedures and documentation (including technology and delivery partners where applicable)
  • Test specifications and metrics to ensure quality levels of the specifications in a range of environments (e.g. usability, reliability, performance, etc.)


  • Test corporate and product positioning platform, message architecture and plans for customer segment programs
  • Develop a systematic way for capturing customer information and input
  • Build key early customer relationships, generate references and referrals
  • Understand weaknesses in company infrastructure required to support all customers’ requirements (total product)
beta program development
Beta Program Development
  • Define beta
  • testing
  • process,
  • participants
  • and
  • objectives
  • Produce
  • integrated
  • functional
  • plan
  • - Engineering
  • - Marketing
  • - Sales
  • - Professional
  • Services
  • - Support
  • - Partners
  • Develop criteria for beta test customers
  • Identify and Recruit beta customers and set expectations
  • Create beta program
  • documentation
  • Collect and analyze user
  • feedback
  • Identify,
  • prioritize issues to be resolved
  • Implement
  • beta
  • program
  • - Product
  • Distributed to
  • Beta
  • Users
  • - Survey
  • Vehicles in
  • place
  • - Reporting
  • Process
  • - Timelines,
  • Milestones
  • Develop integrated functional response plan
  • Refine beta testing process
  • Summary beta report doc
beta program best practices the short list
Beta Program Best Practices: The Short List
  • Don’t abuse the generosity of beta customers with non customer-worthy product – develop a “phased beta approach” to address risks of putting beta product in big influential prospective customer
  • Choose and recruit your beta customers, users to match market entry customer segment(s)
  • Drive for confidentiality (NDAs, Beta agreements, etc.)
  • Manage the program and beta users, communicate (bi-directional) regularly (program managers in both your company and customers)
  • Provide a simple, easy method for beta users to give feedback, make them feel like part of the your team
  • Encourage beta users to communicate with each other
  • Respond quickly to all requests and problems
  • Document, document, document
what motivates beta testers
What Motivates Beta Testers ?
  • Early adopter technology adopter cycle value profile
  • Ability to contribute to product development process, be perceived as expert
  • ‘Community’ participation
  • Exclusive access to new product/Head start on resolution of their business problem
  • ‘Free’ product/Incentives
  • Career advancement

Where do You Find Them?

  • Sales Force/Executive Team relationships
  • Partners (Channel, complementary products, etc.)
  • Internet groups/Blogs/Bulletin Boards and Lists
  • “Dead prospects”
  • Customers’ competitors
  • Other?
  • User Groups/SIGs
elements of beta program research plan
Elements of Beta Program Research Plan
  • [Realistic] sampling strategy
    • - # of customers
    • - # of participants
    • - Functional representation
  • Efficient user feedback (technical and marketing) collection tools (on-line, web page)
  • Third party tools (e.g. web surveys - Survey Monkey, Zoomerang) for simple, measurable inputs
    • - In-depth, qualitative (e.g. telephone/in-person interviews) for exploration of issues/requirements and positioning strategy validation
    • - Forum discussions (open and hosted: web forum, conference calls, WebEx)
  • Surveys: design for structured analysis!
    • - Topics to be covered by function
    • - Technical and marketing metrics
    • - Qualitative ‘discussion’ topics
beta test plan
Beta Test Plan
  • Definition

- Project parameters, goals, activities and participants

- Internal resources required, responsibilities identified

-Foundation for beta report/summary

  • Table of Contents

- Product definition (in current state)

-Target customer segment(s) – “user spec” (time, HW, etc.)

- Parameters (# of participants, timeline, etc.)

- Goals (UI, support requirements, testimonials, etc.)

- Incentives (as appropriate to situation)

- Beta team action items and responsibilities

- Etc.

post beta test
Post-Beta Test
  • Make customer feedback accessible, institutional customer intelligence (Analyze customer feedback in structured way and document all issues)
  • Prioritize issues (severity and repetition) and develop an integrated cross-functional action plan
  • Incorporate beta user feedback into market-driven product roadmap
  • Ensure all company infrastructure requirements identified have been fully addressed
  • Review beta program process and execution performance and develop improvement plan
  • Send out incentives (where appropriate) and thank individual Beta users personally (phone call, email, etc.) in a timely fashion
some tips for managing a beta program
Some Tips for Managing a Beta Program
  • Establish well-integrated cross-functional team with representation from all stakeholders (executive, marketing, sales, engineering, support, partners, etc)
  • Assign program owner (generally marketing) and define clear team member roles and responsibilities
  • Agree cross-functionally on criteria for choosing a Beta site
  • Promote importance and value of beta test to all functional organizations and share the beta information with all who need it
key beta test mistakes
Key Beta Test Mistakes
  • “Wrong” beta testers accepted
  • Recruiting family or friends skews perspective
  • Poorly managed beta testers and/or test data
  • Prohibitive time commitment, resulting in drop-outs
  • Viewing Beta program as revenue source
  • Beta test period too short or too long
  • Too few or too many beta users (difficult to manage)

“Choosing the wrong beta testers is the best way

I know to provide useless results”

summary a successful beta program
Summary: A Successful Beta Program
  • Product works as advertised
  • Benefits are documented, validated and measured (overall, feature-specific)
  • Product configuration, installation and customer support processes and documentation meet customer expectations
  • Unanticipated or un-addressed total product requirements are identified and prioritized with level of criticality determined
  • Rosemary Remacle, Consultant

Market Focus