Project Management

Running an Efficient Beta Program

Sandhya is a program manager in California.

Running an alpha/beta program is essential for delivering certain software. It provides quantitative and qualitative feedback from users that matter. So, it’s important for a project manager to look into how to run this program efficiently.

Every beta program should have a focused goal. It should answer the question of "Why?" I recently ran a few beta programs, and I cannot help but compare them to reading and writing comprehension in school. I was taught to think about the “5Ws and H” when writing: who, what, when, where, why and how. This was at the center of all brainstorming. I applied the same principle to developing and executing beta programs. This helped me run it efficiently, and I could re-use the same principles.

Here are the questions I asked myself to get organized:

Who:

  • Who are my stakeholders? (Current development/QA team, release engineering, operations, support, translations, triage, documentation, user experience, product management…this should cover everyone involved in any capacity.)
  • Who will be affected?  (New users, current users, types of users and the side effects)
  • Who will benefit from this?
  • Who will be inconvenienced by this? (Any negative effect, loss of feature, data loss, reconfiguration)

What:

  • What is the vision?
  • What is goal of this program?
  • What are the various parts of …

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"Of course I'm ambitious. What's wrong with that? Otherwise you sleep all day."

- Ringo Starr

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