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Beta Testing & Iterative development
I am trying to figure out when is the best time for Beta Testing in the iterative development approach.
We expect to have 7 iterations, where the last two iterations will be mostly focusing on bug fixing, finishing system testing, bug verification and regression testing.
Is then the build which is coming as a result of the 5th iteration, and has no critical bugs nor showstoppers, a good candidate for sending it to Beta customers?
I mean, if some new critical bugs come from end users, we would still have enough time for fixing and retesting in the iteration 6 and 7.
What is you opinion about Beta Testing in Iterative approach.
Re: Beta Testing & Iterative development
A clarification, first, perhaps? You stated that the project has seven iterations, and the last two are for bug fixes, but also stated that the 5th iteration is supposed to have no 'critical' or 'showstopper' bugs. So the assumption I'm going to work with here is that you are planning on fixing major/minor defects in iterations six and seven.
I'd say that you might need to consider a few things:
1. What is your relationship with the Beta customers? Are these customers who will think less of the company if the product is not already at production levels? Does iteration five also include complete installation and deployment protocals and help and documentation? Be sure that your timelines include more than just IT, so that you're able to see the whole picture. Even IF the remaining defects are not 'critical', the users are not going to be able to provide good beta feedback if they can't understand new features due to missing documentation.
2. What are the PRIORITY of the major/minor bugs you have remaining? I'm working on a premise here that major/minor is the *criticality* or *severity* of the defect, and the priority defines how important it is to the business. (example: Misspelling of the company name is obviously minor, as it's a quick fix in most cases, but is also VERY high on the Business priority list). If there are a large number of HIGH priority defects, you might consider waiting until at least after iteration 6 before sending out to Alpha customers.
In my own experience, Beta testing should not occur until the product is 'complete'. In other words, it has been tested completely (or as completely as it's going to be), documentation is in place, someone has been trained to take tech support calls from the customers, deployment procedures are in place, etc. The schedule has then allowed for a period of time to complete work on fixes based on Beta reports, which are then tested, and then iterated to the customers in the form of secondary or tertiary beta release candidates.
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