Alpha Testing

What is Alpha?

Alpha is the phase where the thing kinda works, but not well enough to share with anyone other than people that know that it doesn’t work. In other words, if you’re at an alpha phase, that means you and anyone else looking at the SaaS knows that it doesn’t work or that some major features are pretty buggy.

The alpha testing portion is technically part of acceptance testing. This phase is the first milestone in testing. What this means is that, in this phase, the team is going to generally test internally to see where the major problem areas are located.

At this stage, the development team will review the system with you and will need to get it out to people to help test the system. If you have been doing a good job with your advisory board or community building, now is a great time to walk select members through the system to get feedback. Important note here, if you decide to share this with people outside of the company, they really do need to be selected people who understand there are going to be big issues in the system. For the most part, alpha testing will be done by internal developers and by you.

Improvements at Alpha

You’re going to find all sorts of things you want to improve upon at this stage. But you need to remember what you’re doing and why you’re doing it at this point. Your goal is to GET TO MARKET, not build out every phase in the system.

So take all those things you want to add, change, and generally improve, and put them into a bucket (it’s called the Backlog) to be done after you get to market. Your number one, most important, goal is to get validation that your system is going to sell, and you get this by getting people to pay you. If your system at its core functionality doesn’t sell then you have other problems to deal with, and adding things that are not core features now won’t help.

Content review at Alpha Testing

At the alpha testing phase, you should also be reviewing all the content on the system. This means every word, every rollover, every tooltip, everything. You’re going to have a lot of things that need to be done, and this is probably the easiest thing to do that is most often overlooked. If you add a step here to review everything, it will be a lot easier when you get to future phases if you have all the content taken care of here.

Iteration and fixing issues

The way this book reads, it seems like you might get to this point, make some suggestions, then move on. It won’t go that way. By the time you get to the point where you’re doing this alpha test, you will know your product inside and out, and be steeped in development lingo. While this step has a fancy name and is a milestone, it’s just another iteration in the development process.

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