Serena Gray

Sep 27, 2021

5 min read

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

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).

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?

When does UAT happen?

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?

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?

When does Alpha Testing happen?

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?

  • 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

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

Why is Beta Testing necessary?

When does Beta Testing happen?

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?

  • 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