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Alpha Testing : What it is, Why ,Process & When to Automate?

August 25, 2023Kiruthika Devaraj
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Alpha Testing 101 Everything You Need to Know
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As software development cycles evolve, testing remains essential to ensuring high-quality products. Alpha testing it aims to identify bugs and other issues before the product goes to market. But what exactly is alpha testing, and how does it differ from other testing phases? This blog post will start by defining alpha testing and its primary goals, then explore the different types and how to conduct them.

Whether you are a software developer or a tester, understanding alpha testing is essential for delivering quality software products. So, join us as we take a deep dive into the blog!

What is Alpha Testing?

Alpha testing is an important step in software testing. This process aims to identify and eliminate errors or bugs before the product is released. An internal QA team performs this testing in a controlled lab environment to ensure software quality before it goes into production. Alpha testing employs white and black box testing, which checks the system’s internal structure or design and ensures input and output functionality. This testing is required for identifying and fixing any issues before the product is released, ensuring the end-users have a seamless experience.

When To Perform Alpha Testing?

Alpha testing is one of the user acceptance testing (UAT) that is performed after the product is tested and ready for release. It is performed by people who are a part of the organization, like software engineers or quality assurance professionals. 

Also, it is performed before beta testing, where people outside the organization will try the product and share their feedback.

What are the Reasons For Performing Alpha Testing?

Alpha testing is the last testing stage, and it helps software teams to build quality software. It is typically done before the product release. It helps ensure that the product is working as per the requirements. There are various reasons to perform this testing are,

  • It helps identify and fix bugs that were not detected in the previous testing phases.
  • It enables teams to test the product in a live and real environment.
  • The developers can use the feedback from this testing to improvise features, fix bugs, and enhance performance before the final product release.
  • Another major reason to perform this testing is to ensure the software product’s success.
  • It helps validate the application’s quality, functionality, and effectiveness before it is released to the end users.
  • Addressing stability issues before release helps ensure a smoother user experience.

Who is Responsible for Alpha Testing?

The quality assurance or software development team typically coordinates alpha testing. Testers include a mix of company employees to ensure a wide range of perspectives. Tasks and test cases are distributed among testers to cover various use cases and expedite the process. Testers log issues in a bug tracking platform or communicate them directly to development leads. Alpha testing can’t conclude until all major issues are resolved, reaching a “feature lock” where no new functionality is added.

Objectives of Alpha Testing

The Alpha testing team thoroughly tests a software product in a controlled environment before releasing it. It seeks to identify and eliminate potential defects or bugs by putting the software through rigorous manual and automated testing procedures. Specifically, the objectives include:

1. Confirm that all key functionalities are working as expected.

2. Identifying and resolving any coding errors or glitches before release.

3. Ensuring compatibility with different hardware configurations and operating systems.

4. Verifying that the user interface is intuitive and easy to use.

5. Conducting load testing to determine how well the software handles heavy usage.

6. Providing feedback on features that might confuse users so they can be altered for ease of use.

Overall, this testing helps organizations create more stable products and reduce future costs associated with bug fixes.

Features of Alpha Testing

  • It is a type of user acceptance testing.
  • It is performed by the team after the product is fully developed, thoroughly tested, and ready for release.
  • It is performed in a specific and controlled environment that mimics the real-world environment.
  • It is performed by an in-house team that is developers and testers within the organization.
  • Unlike best testing, there is no involvement of the people outside the company.
  • It helps to gain confidence in the user acceptance of the software product.
  • It helps the team to gain confidence in the product before the final release.
  • it involves both the black box and white box technique.
  • It helps ensures the quality of the product before the release or beta testing.
  • Developers perform it at their site, allowing them to record errors and resolve bugs quickly. 
  • It is performed after the unit, integration, and system testing but prior to beta testing.
Read more on Alpha Testing VS Beta Testing

Phases in Alpha Testing

It is going to happen in two phases:

  • In the first phase, software developers perform white box testing to catch bugs or issues using specific debugging tools or software.
  • In the second phase, the QA team performs black-box testing and examines the application’s functionality.

How to Perform Alpha Testing?

Alpha testing comprises three main aspects: pre-Alpha testing, Alpha testing, and post-Alpha testing. Pre-Alpha testing ensures the system is ready for Alpha testing, while Alpha testing evaluates all modules and functions. Post-Alpha testing involves developers fixing errors parallel to testers who continue testing. Alpha testing has two phases:

  1. Phase 1: Developers with technical knowledge conduct white box testing, observing the application at a code level.
  2. Phase 2: QA tests black box, focusing on various use cases.

The general process includes test design, review, execution, defect fixing, feedback collection, and summary reporting.

What is the Alpha Testing Process?

  • Alpha testing is the first stage of testing software or hardware end-to-end.
  • We conduct this testing to identify potential issues before releasing the product to the public.
  • The developers or the company’s internal testers perform alpha testing.
  • We test the product in a simulated environment similar to the actual production environment during the alpha testing process.
  • The testers evaluate the product’s functionality, usability, and performance.
  • The development team logs and fixes any bugs and issues.
  • After resolving all the issues, the product is ready for the next beta testing stage.
Alpha Testing Process

Entry and Exit Criteria of Alpha Testing

Certain conditions must be fulfilled before any testing takes place. These are the entry criteria. Similarly, specific requirements must be met to conclude the testing phase; this refers to exit criteria.

The entry criteria’s are:

  • Business requirements or software specifications documentation
  • Test cases for all requirements
  • Testing environment setup
  • QA build ready for execution
  • No urgent bugs present
  • A test management tool to upload test cases and log issues
  • Testing team with decent knowledge of the software

The Exit Criteria’s are:

  • All planned test cases have been performed and passed.
  • All critical issues have been resolved.
  • No additional features are to be added.
  • A test summary report is ready to be delivered.

Once the alpha testing is completed, the application moves on to beta testing.

When to Automate Alpha Tests?

When considering whether to automate alpha tests, evaluating the complexity and frequency of the tests is important. If the tests are simple and infrequent, it may not be worth the investment in automation; however, if you automate complex tasks, that must be done regularly. So that you can save time and resources while increasing accuracy and consistency.

Regarding automation, Testsigma is the best Automation tool you can choose. An open-source tool where anyone can automate the test cases using simple English. You can use natural language and your business lexicon to automate tests. The record and playback approach makes it easy to automate test cases. Testsigma works well with basic as well as complex test scenarios.

Advantages of Alpha Testing

Here are some key points on the advantages:

  1. Testers can gain real user feedback early in the development process, which they can use to improve the product before release.
  2. This iterative approach saves time and resources as issues can be identified and addressed early on, reducing the potential for costly changes further down the line.
  3. This testing can also help build customer trust by involving them in developing a new product or service, thus increasing their loyalty toward your brand.
  4. More, it enables a faster speed-to-market with more stable products that have undergone rigorous testing from real users who can provide insights that internal teams may overlook.

Disadvantages of Alpha Testing

Despite being an essential part of software development, this testing has several disadvantages that must be considered before implementation. These include:

  1. Limited Testers: The main disadvantage of this testing is that it involves only internal testers familiar with the code base. This means a limited number of people are available to test and provide feedback on the software, which can affect the quality and coverage of testing.
  2. Time-Consuming: This testing can be incredibly time-consuming as it requires rigorous testing across all aspects of the application. This process slows down progress in other areas of development, such as adding new features or fixing bugs.
  3. Limited Feedback: Due to its limited scope of testing, this testing might not cover all potential issues, leading to limited feedback.
  4. Budget Constraints: This testing requires a significant amount of resources, including hardware, personnel, and budgetary allocation for additional software or systems fees.

Best Practices for Alpha Testing

  1. Perform Alpha Testing on Real Devices: Test actual devices the target audience uses for accurate results.
  2. Log Every Issue: Capture every bug and usability issue, even if not immediately resolved, for future consideration.
  3. Review Specs Before Testing: Testers should review functional specs and test cases beforehand for context and focus.
  4. Retesting by Issue Loggers: Those who find bugs should retest them after fixes, ensuring issues are resolved.
  5. Consensus Before Exiting: Ensure testers agree that the product is ready for beta testing.
  6. Include Non-Technical Employees: Representatives from various departments provide a holistic review.
  7. Test the Entire User Experience: Assess the end-to-end user experience, not just individual features.
  8. Prepare Sales and Marketing: Involve these teams to familiarize them with the product’s latest version.
  9. Practice for Customer Support: Include customer support for early familiarity and to gain a customer-focused perspective.

Alpha Testing Tips

Maximize the benefits with these effective strategies:

  1. Log Every Issue: Record all bugs and usability issues. Even unresolved items can be addressed later or held in the backlog for post-release consideration.
  2. Prioritize Alpha Over Beta: Don’t postpone issue addressing until beta testing. Addressing more issues in alpha makes the product appear polished to public beta testers, avoiding distractions from known issues.
  3. Review Specs Before Testing: Alpha testers should familiarize themselves with functional specs and test cases before testing. This establishes a baseline understanding and a focused approach.
  4. Retesting by Issue Loggers: The person who discovered a bug should confirm its resolution through retesting. Don’t solely rely on the developer’s word.
  5. Consensus Before Exiting: Ensure alpha testers agree that the product is ready for beta testing. Provide a platform for concerns to be raised before finalizing the decision.
  6. Include Non-Technical Employees: Enlist a diverse group, including non-tech employees. Their perspective brings a balanced review to the product.
  7. Test the Entire User Experience: Assess the product’s usability in real-world workflows. Comprehensive testing includes the end-to-end user journey.
  8. Boot Camp for Sales and Marketing: Involve sales and marketing teams in alpha testing. Immersing them in test scenarios enhances their understanding of the user experience, enabling more authoritative product presentations.
  9. Practice for Customer Support: Include customer support in alpha testing. This equips them with insights into product changes before they address real customers, adding a customer-focused lens.

Summary

Before releasing any software product into a competitive market, it is necessary to follow a standardized methodology. One such vital step is Alpha testing, which thoroughly assesses the software’s functionality and ensures user acceptance in a real environment. This process instills confidence in the product’s readiness for market release.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called Alpha testing?

Alpha testing is conducted early in software development, typically before beta testing.

Read more on Beta Testing

How does alpha testing work?

Alpha testing is an important step in software testing. This process aims to identify and eliminate errors or bugs before the product is released. An internal QA team performs this testing in a controlled lab environment to ensure software quality before it goes into production.

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