International Project Management Day




Software Release Life Cycle Phase 9: External Testing (Beta)


Quick Summary
Defines testing and review activities to exercise a software release in a "real world" environment at one or more customers.


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What this is

This template outlines deliverables for Phase 9 of a software release life cycle. During this phase the final users of the software release or users of various derivative products of the release conduct beta testing at selected customer sites. The customer will be given some direction or training, but the goal is to let these Beta customers encounter obstacles or problems by themselves and provide feedback on these. This feedback is then incorporated into the software and documentation to improve the quality of the release and derivative products before final shipments.

The Beta test is a live test of the software in a real environment, by real customers. In general, the activities performed by these Beta customers cannot be controlled.


Why it's useful

Beta testing with real customers provides feedback on activities that the developers, internal testers, product managers, etc. did not think of. Customers are very creative and will generally do things no one thought anyone would do. This adds to the robustness of the release and its derivative products. This "real" customer feedback is incorporated into the manuals, help files, software, installation processes, etc. and improves the quality of the release.


How to use it

Use the forms in this phase to move through the Beta process. A Beta Plan outline is provided. Each software release and its derivative products are unique, so the product management staff and others have to create their own criteria for evaluation at the customer sites.

NOTE: In this and the following phase, the term "Derivative products" is used to identify stand-alone products that may be used in conjunction with the release or not. Since this is a general software release process and each company will have it's own way of partitioning the release and the software code base, this term is inclusive of any project, application, client, server, etc. that can be viewed as a separate product by the customer.


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