You have spent a lot of time and effort to Design and Implement a system for the capture and processing of paper and electronic documents. You have performed testing to insure the implementation works as designed. Now comes the intricate part of BETA testing by selected End Users to verify the system works as designed and more importantly, performs the tasks the End Users need.
BETA testing is often a long and arduous process especially with a large complex system. There can be thousands of test points that need to be checked and approved. Items like document types that can be used for routing and/or different index structures all need to be selected and tested individually to make sure they are routed or indexed properly. Other items can be things like updates to the Host ERP system where multiple status/process steps must be again tested and approved individually. Preparation, performance, and review of the results can take a significant amount of time for each section that is tested.
Many companies underestimate the BETA acceptance testing process, especially if they have had little experience in the acceptance of large complex systems. It is extremely important to emphasize to project teams the importance of the BETA acceptance testing and the time it will take to verify all the little features/functions that need to be tested.
The company should also recognize that the BETA testers must be given the time to perform the testing. Some companies only allow an hour a day for a person to perform BETA testing. This means that the BETA testing period will be extended in terms of when the BETA testing will be completed. Also, BETA testing provides end users the opportunity to learn the new system interface and what it can and cannot do. This is a very valuable part of the process as it builds knowledge for the company on the new system and is transferred directly to production. These are just a few of the reasons not to skimp on the time given to BETA testers.
In the future, when deciding on how much time to give, error on the conservative side and give them all that is necessary. Three to four hours a day is not too much to ask when it comes to an assignment. This will improve not only the time it takes to complete the project but provide a very large hand up on how the system works and what it can do.
Senior Systems Engineer