Alpha Testing Essentials
Alpha testing makes use of prototypes to test the software in its beta stage. However, you cannot expect the software to possess complete functionality for which it is designed especially at this stage. This is because alpha testing is usually conducted to ensure that the software that is being developed provides all necessary core functions and that it accepts all inputs and gives out expected outputs.
Alpha tests are conducted in the software developer’s offices or on any designated systems so that they can monitor the test and list out any errors or bugs that may be present. Thus, some of the most complex codes are developed during the alpha testing stage. Furthermore, the project manager who is handling the testing process will need to talk to the software developer on the possibilities of integrating the results procured from the alpha testing process with the future software design plans so that all potential future problems can be avoided.
You can recommend alpha test, when software developers in a laboratory conduct them. This allows them to see the software working in an actual, practical setting. However, the number of consumers, who test the software, should be strictly limited, because the software is not yet ready for a commercial launch at this point.
Before consumers receive the software system, you should ensure that it provides plenty of improvements in terms of stability and robustness. A software system that possesses such advantageous features will bring a positive image for your business. The beta stage of the software is when you can request the consumers to test the software to see whether it would be acceptable or not.
Alpha Testing Expectations
The testing team that handles the testing process will have many expectations from alpha testing process. Alpha tests are conducted by the software developers inside a laboratory or somewhere where the testing environment can be controlled. In the meantime, many developers also recognized the need for handing the testing to many customers because they are the users who understand their expectations and functionalities from the software being tested. Thus, some of the customers will accept to test the software during the alpha stage.
When running end-product software for testing, it is inevitable that testers will encounter a number of minor problems, errors and eventually frustrating experiences. This is because software developers would have taken care of the most complex and serious problems as soon as they encounter them. Thus, the software during its alpha stage will have minimum functionality and ability to accept the inputs and create the expected output. Therefore, the users who would test the software must be aware of this fact so that they can create unbiased and accurate reviews of the software’s problems and other design issues.
Software engineers should take the responsibility of educating all users about the limited capability of the software at this point. In addition, they should also include an advisory letter along with the software package that mentions about the limited capability of the software. Customers should also understand that they will most likely experience frustrating problems if they run the software at its alpha stage like a product.
The real purpose of the alpha test by the consumer is to provide the necessary feedback and give the end-users perspective so that software developers can address these issues. Asking for customer feedback about the problems they had encountered and the things they expect once the software is launched in the market makes lot of sense.
Advantages of Testing the Software in EPRI
Although, a alpha software is not yet fully functional, a quality assurance tester, EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute) Corporate Software Quality, will still run a test so that the software sent out to a user will not have any serious errors or complications. A failure to address any errors or bugs could lead to a number of potential problems with the user. The EPRI tests the software first to ensure that the user’s system will never falter, from an error on the software or due to a virus. Doing the testing process, the software testers will also ensure that EPRI will maintain its reputation before it is sent out to the user.
One should note that the entire software program and its documentation in any of its lifecycle stage must possess the EPRI advisory before passed on to the users for further testing. EPRI makes use of a series of e-mails to provide progress reports about the software. However, you may still need to expect well-structured reports and provide you with necessary information for further improvement.
In addition, EPRI also works well with the software developers and managers, because it is possible to complete the software project within a specified period. However, you can even accommodate occasional special reports. For example, the EPRI has the ability to provide an earlier feedback about the usability and functionality of the software in case when you are in a hurry. You can also discuss specific details like scheme of the navigation and overall appearance and look of the software.
The entire testing process will take about six to eight days. Occasionally, it may take more time when there are complicated errors in the software coding systems. On the flipside, software testing by using EPRI could take unreasonably longer time especially during the peak season when there is a backlog of tests due to increased demand.
Alpha Testing Advantages
Alpha testing provides better insights about the software’s reliability and robustness at its early stages. You can find out whether the software has the real potential to work at the alpha stage. You would even be able to detect many of the serious errors quite easily during the alpha test, because other minor design structures are yet to be integrated. For this sole reason, alpha testing has the ability to provide early detection, regarding design issues and errors, to prevent potential problems in the future.
Alpha test acts as an effective software testing method. You will conduct this testing to ensure that the user will get high quality services in the form of complete functionalities and stability. The features that the technical team looks for in software are efficiency, maintainability, usability, compatibility, and reliability among others.
However, the most common requirement is that the software provided to the user should work properly according to the purpose for which it is created. Conducting alpha tests will reveal whether the software has all these necessary features to pass the strict quality standards of EPRI and even ISO. However, the overall quality concerning the software is never absolute; it just needs to meet a certain set of specifications that is expected out of it.
Limitations of Alpha Testing
Like any other software testing processes, even alpha testing has some limitations in its use. Likewise, it also offers some specific advantages when compared to other testing procedures. Since alpha testing makes use of undeveloped prototypes, this type of testing is only good for the early stages of the software. It is almost impossible to conduct an in-depth reliability test or an installation test, and even documentation tests at this point, because the software is still undeveloped. Therefore, it is very difficult to address these concerns accurately at the alpha test stage.
Alpha test allows software developers to see the true potentialities of the software including its design issues. Software developers can fix any potential code and structural problems right during the alpha test process. However, you should be aware of several critical factors about alpha testing before sending it to users.
The first consideration you need to look into is the possibility of consumers who test the product during alpha stage may end up dissatisfied with the results. This is because the software is not yet completely developed. Even when you give a notice about its developmental stage, the user may still feel that the software given to them was unable to meet their needs and requirements.
At times, some of the feedbacks received from consumers during alpha release can also be accurate because they encountered some sort of unsatisfactory or bad experiences while using the software.
It is also very critical that you provide foolproof security and safety for the user system. If you cannot ensure this, you may be careful not send the software to users to test it at the alpha stage. You can still ensure the safety of their systems, by having the software tested by a quality control procedure such as EPRI.
In nutshell, software system will go through a number of important testing procedures before its commercial launching into a highly competitive market. Alpha testing is perhaps one of the most beneficial and helpful steps that the software system needs to undergo to have the complete functionalities and user friendliness.