Alpha Testing – A Brief Overview

Alpha Testing

The millions of software and applications that you see in the market launched to make your tasks easier and swifter are the brainchildren of technological visionaries and software engineers. These software, applications, and tools make our lives easy-going, the development process is typically a complex process. It involves months and years of sleepless nights designing the software architecture, writing the millions of lines of codes, testing the codes along the coding life cycle, soft launches, trials and debugging, and more. What is common across all these phases of the software development lifecycle is testing. Software testing is imperative to the entire development lifecycle and comes in different forms at different stages and with different goals. One such testing process that we will discuss elaborately in today’s blog is “Alpha testing”.

What is Alpha Testing?

When you hear about Alpha testing, the first question that arises in your mind is probably what is it. So let’s begin our journey into the Alpha testing world with the definition. In simple words, Alpha testing is the first comprehensive testing done on the entirety of software once it reaches the completion test. It is done primarily to test for all possible bugs and rectify the glitches. This check ensures that it meets all the solicited specifications and that the software product’s performance is at par with the expectations before handing it over to the client.

Who is Responsible for this Testing?

Who performs the Alpha testing is also a differentiator that sets Alpha testing apart from the other exit-level software testings. It is performed by the internal software development and testing team at the end of the development phase. This is the final showdown and touch-up. It is done in a closed laboratory set-up or a staging environment. The second level of this testing is done by the external Quality Assurance team. This team gives an advanced and more objective result on bug testing ad debugging.

How to Perform?

Alpha testing is a two-step process involving internal software testers in the first phase and external QA specialists in the final phase. For successful Alpha testing, the primary step is designing and reviewing the test framework basis the specifications and requirements. The testing team then moves on to designing a comprehensive test plan as well as test cases and then executing these to find out the log errors and bugs and fix them. Finally, test once more to ensure there are no issues.

After the first round of testing is done by the in-house team, the external testers repeat it. This ensures additional validation.

Entry Criteria for Alpha testing

At the entry stage, the criteria for this testing include the following:

  • Business and software requirement specifications
  • Test cases for each requirement
  • A well-versed testing team 
  • Test lab setup
  • External QA team at the disposal
  • Test management tools to upload test cases and record the bugs
  • Traceability Matrix to make sure that every specification or requirement has at least one test case to validate it

Exit Criteria for Alpha testing

This refers to the final phase requirements and includes the following:

  • Implementing and qualifying all test cases
  • Fixing all the critical issues
  • Preparing the test summary report
  • Ensuring no more additions or amendments required
  • Signing off the Alpha testing mode

Advantages of Alpha testing

Alpha testing is one of the most basic but critical to ensuring the success of the software at the end of the development phase before delivering it to the client. What makes it so popular among the software developers and testers community is the wide range of advantages. Some of them include: 

  • Ensuring all the bugs are located and fixed that were missed during the prior tests conducted during different phases of the software development lifecycle.
  • Exhibits hidden or missed bugs and errors.
  • Alpha testing is the first exposure to testing the software in a real-world environment.
  • This also ensures the application or software’s success and estimates end-users perception.
  • Offers better validation on the reliability, credibility, and functionality of the software.

Alpha testing tips

Here are some quick tricks to ensure the most accurate and best results from your Alpha testing:

  • Record every finding: Cataloging every bug identified during the Alpha testing goes without questioning. This is applicable even if the developers and testers decide to keep the bugs unattended, just to make sure you can circle back to the issue anytime in the future, should need be.
  • Evaluate the specifications beforehand: Reviewing and evaluating the specifications and requirements for the software way ahead in time can prove to be extremely handy during this type of testing. This also draws a clearer picture of the expectations.
  • Repeat the tests by the same person: After fixing the error, it is advisable to retest by the same person who logged the issue. This is because he/she is already familiar with the matter, instead of taking the word of the developer for granted.
  • Ensure a clear consensus before exiting: Before you jump into the next phase, i.e. Beta testing, it is imperative that everyone on board accords to the final decision and results of the Alpha testing.
  • Include non-technical people for objectivity: For a more objective Alpha test result and better user experience consensus, involving non-technical members can prove to be beneficial. 
  • Don’t wait until the next test: Don’t leave bug identification or rectification to the Beta testing phase. It is critical and more professional to hand over a flawless product to the client instead of making amendments later.

Epilogue

This testing offers a fresh preview of the real-world scenario of the viability and success of the software that is tested. It gives an overview of how it might do among the adopters and end-users in the market. It also makes sure that the software product is as flawless and agile as possible. Thus, you cannot deny the significance of this testing.

Hope this article addresses all your queries about Alpha testing. Happy reading!

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