There is a Japanese manufacturing term, poka-yoke, which essentially means “to make mistake-proof.”
It was originally coined as part of the quality-control measures used in Japanese automotive production, but it can apply to virtually any manufacturing system, including the development of software and applications similar to Raken's daily construction reporting software.
One way software developers apply the poka-yoke principle is through beta testing. That is generally the second (hence the phonetics) phase of final software and application development before a full-fledged launch. Beta testing is the provision of software to a section of the market for what amounts to a test run by a chosen, wide audience. Their experience with the app can help developers get any remaining bugs out and iron out any programming wrinkles before its broader release to the public or commercial sector for which it is intended.
The process is a valuable part of the software development cycle, but it’s not without its challenges. Here is a sampling of issues encountered in beta testing of software that can be experienced by any software company during such customer-validation efforts:
Planning. The beta test must be planned well in advance. By design, the process occurs during a fraught time – final kinks are being worked out, a launch date looms, and engineers are scrambling to correct any remaining bugs before the beta test begins. Planning kits are available on the internet.
Recruiting testers. Identifying and securing agreement from those you want test-driving your software can be a time-consuming process. Specialized software, like Raken Daily Compliance App, can help you winnow down candidates more easily, but participants should be surveyed and coached on how best to participate and record any bugs and glitches they may encounter.
Creating a beta environment. Although it may seem trivial, successfully launching a beta requires you to technically be able to target your testers with your release. Many young companies don't spend the time to build a beta environment in their early stages, meaning product updates or launches impact 100% of their users. By creating a beta environment, you can share releases specifically with your target audiences and slowly ramp up the percentage of end users that have access to your new software.
Collecting and assessing feedback. Make sure your pool of beta testers has an understanding of exactly what should be evaluated, such as ease of data input, the ability to upload photos, and general usability. Make sure their feedback is collected in a way that allows for the easy assemblage of the data.
This is just a broad-based review of beta testing and its inherent values and challenges. If your team works together for a solid live beta rollout, it can prove one of the most valuable phases of getting your new software on the market.
And it can ensure you’ve done your due diligence in the spirit of poka-yoke.
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