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Following the initial development phase, the first phase for testing the developed product is the Alpha Test. The main purpose of the Alpha test is to test the functionality of the product and to note necessary modification or improvements. So it is more closely tied to the research and development process than later stages of testing, which are focused more on fine-tuning the product.
The actual Alpha test involves having developers, business members, or outside individuals use and thoroughly evaluate the product. Here are some simple steps to make certain your Alpha Test runs smoothly and provides valuable feedback for the idea:
- Introduce the Product – Do not explain the product in detail. Give a simple explanation of the product and gauge their reaction and interest in the product.
- Information About Product – Allow the testers to use the product with as little information and instructions as possible. You should record any problems the testers have in understanding and using the product.
- Functionality of Product – Observe the testers to make certain the product functions as intended. If it fails to function as intended, do not interrupt the test. Also, do not provide information to the testers explaining how the product should work. Simply note the functionality failure as a point of departure for correcting the issue.
- Candid Feedback – Make certain that you incentivize the testers to point out things that they do not like about the product or that could use improvement. Establishing a testing environment where testers want to be in agreement with the entrepreneurs or where they are reluctant to voice concerns about the product invalidates the results of the test.
- Timing of Test – Testing should take place once the product reaches a substantially useable state. Make certain that the testers have adequate time to fully explore the product. This could mean extending the test over a period of hours or days. Often, the issues associated with a product do not appear until after considerable use. Remember also, it is common to put the product through several iterations before arriving achieving an acceptable product outcome. You want to make certain the initial exploration is as thorough as possible.
- Individual Testers – The individuals in charge of product development control the Alpha Test. developers, business members, outside individuals (such as friends, family members, of potential customers)
Following the Alpha Test you should have identified many of the problems with the product and identified the critical issues that must be addressed. You may also have new insight on features of the product that customers would prefer changed, added or removed. Your next step is to return the product to the development stage to explore options for making changes and, if possible, make the changes. Remember, the Alpha test is a method. You should have well-defined benchmarks for the product going into the Alpha test. To the extent that the product fails to meet those benchmarks, you should be ready and motivated to make the necessary changes.
By following the above guidelines you will glean important information about your product or service prior to introducing it to your customer base. This avoids the negative effects of introducing a product that is poorly received or does not function as intended. Such an occurrence can torpedo your efforts to establish the product in the market. With this in mind, you want to have the product as apparently close to ready as possible before the Beta Test.