What is the Difference between UAT, Alpha Testing, or Beta Testing?

Serena Gray
5 min readSep 27, 2021

This article will discuss how to handle User-Acceptance and Alpha Testing in an Agile environment. There are many types and purposes of testing in modern software development. It’s easy for people to get confused about the timing and purpose of each. This is especially true for testing outside the core Development and Quality Assurance activities, such as unit, integration, and regression testing.

UAT, Alpha, and Beta Testing are unique. These types of testing are more difficult because they involve less control and less environment. You will gain valuable insights into your product which can benefit your Product Management and Development, Quality Control, UI/UX Support, Sales, Marketing, and other teams.

It is important to note that Agile and software development can come in many forms. There are many versions of the concepts listed below. Although this post is intended to provide a framework for building a successful testing program in your company, you should expect some variations between companies.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

A person asking for a feature in software should be able to test it to make sure that they are satisfied with the result.

The Product Owner has the responsibility for maximizing product value. He or she is accountable to all stakeholders including internal and external users.

The Product Backlog is made up of User Stories. User Stories are about the user and the feature they want to use, as well as the reasons for using it.

  • As a (user),
  • I want (a feature).
  • So I can (reason for need/business benefit).

User Stories should be short, manageable, flexible, valuable, and easily testable.

A Sprint development cycle focuses on a handful of requirements or User Stories.

The above outlines that the Product Owner is responsible for creating, prioritizing, and validating User Stories.

Why is UAT necessary?

UAT is the final step in validating the User Story. It meets the expectations of the Product Owner.

When does UAT happen?

UAT is continuous. Sprints may be delivered bi-weekly in some environments. This allows the Product Owner and Development Team to receive continuous feedback.

Not all User Stories need to be comprehensive. To allow for continuous feedback, increments can and should be reviewed regularly.

Who are the UAT participants?

  • Product Owner
  • Members of the Development Team who worked on User Story
  • The Product Owner can invite other stakeholders (Finance Marketing Support) to help with highly specialized features.

What is UAT?

Acceptance Criteria are established when User Stories have been created. Over time, Acceptance Criteria can change. The User Story’s ultimate goal must be achieved.

Alpha Testing

When User Stories are created for a release, they should be tested outside the Business Owner and Development Team. This will allow the software to be used in environments and people other than the project team.

People and environments are more unpredictable than expected, which often leads to issues that cannot be solved in controlled settings.

Alpha testers need to expect bugs, performance issues, and crashes. There is also little documentation.

Why is Alpha Testing necessary?

Alpha Testing is a way to ensure that the software behaves in a wider range of environments and users. Alpha Testing will identify any issues that could prevent Beta Testing.

When does Alpha Testing happen?

Alpha is created after all features have been developed and tested by the Development/QA teams.

The Alpha Testing phase typically lasts between 1–2 weeks but it can vary depending on the release’s size and complexity.

It is possible to plan a Development phase that overlaps with the following:

  • Weeks of Alpha 1–2
  • 2–3 weeks of development

Who takes part in Alpha Testing?

  • Testers: These are usually internal members of the company, but not part of the Project Team.
  • Supporters: Development, Quality Assurance, and UI/UX Product Owners. These teams support users and analyze feedback in real-time and then document the results.

What is Alpha Testing?

The plan includes:

  • Who tests?
  • Who supports?
  • They’ll be testing all features (test cases)
  • When will they be tested?
  • How to manage issues (reporting and logging, classification, prioritization).
  • Exit criteria (all cases tested, no “show-stopper” defects).

Handling defects:

  • Defects can be logged and analyzed in real-time.
  • While some defects can be corrected immediately, others require deeper analysis and may result in the need to develop, integrate, and test more extensively.
  • Some of the defects will be fixed in the future; others could be a trigger for a “no-go” decision.

Beta Testing

After a software release passes Alpha Testing, it should then be made available to the public outside the company. This is where customers can give feedback on their satisfaction with the software’s user interface, features, and overall experience.

Software bugs, crashes, and incomplete documentation should be expected by beta testers.

Why is Beta Testing necessary?

Beta offers feedback from customers in real customer environments.

When does Beta Testing happen?

Beta is after Alpha Testing, and before the Release Candidate build.

The Beta Testing phase typically lasts between 1–2 weeks but it can vary depending on the release’s complexity and size.

It is possible to plan a Development phase that overlaps with the following:

  • Beta weeks 1–2
  • 2–3 weeks of development

Beta may be ongoing in some cases. Customers may choose to participate in a beta channel, where they receive updates to their software before production. This is where sophisticated tracking and log mechanisms are used to ensure that Supporters have access to all the information they need and can adjust the software before it is released to the public.

Google, for example, allows you to choose from various channels on Chrome OS. These include Beta, Stable, and Dev.

Who is eligible to participate in Beta Testing?

  • Beta testers: These are usually actual customers (from the target markets) who have been given the software free of charge or as an incentive.
  • Supporters: Development, Quality Assurance, and UI/UX Product Owners. These teams support users and analyze feedback in real-time and then document the results.

What is Beta Testing?

A plan that includes:

  • Who tests?
  • Who supports?
  • They’ll be testing all features (test cases)
  • When will they be tested?
  • How to manage issues (reporting and logging, classification, prioritization).
  • Exit criteria (all cases tested, no “show-stopper” defects).

Handling defects:

  • Defects can be logged and analyzed in real-time.
  • While some defects can be corrected immediately, others require deeper analysis and may result in the need to develop, integrate, and test more extensively.
  • Some of the defects will be fixed in the future; others could be a trigger for a “no-go” decision.

Conclusion

Software delivery success is dependent on the ability to manage and execute these types of tests. This plan can be followed or something simpler. The goal is to get continuous feedback so that you can deliver a better product. If you are looking forward to implementing software testing for your specific software development project, then do visit online a globally acclaimed software testing services company that has a team of expert testers, developers, subject matter experts. You will be provided with a cohesive testing plan of action that is precisely in line with your software development project requirements.

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Serena Gray

I work as a Senior Testing Specialist at TestingXperts. I am a testing professional accustomed to working in a complex, project-based environment.