Pilot Test Australia Support

Your complete guide to pilot testing
March 29, 2023

This article aims to give you all the information you need to understand what pilot testing is all about, what it tries to achieve, why you need it, and a step-by-step guide to help you through the testing phase.

To give you a quick overview, pilot testing is a type of software testing that is performed by a group of end-users before the deployment of the software in production.

The main idea is to test the product before a release, therefore fixing the last bugs before the users have a chance to get their hands on a buggy product.

What is pilot testing?

To get into more details, Pilot Testing comes in between the User Acceptance test and Production deployment. 

The purpose of performing this testing is to define the project’s cost, risks, feasibility, time, and efficiency.

At this point, the product should be close to completion, and the changes made to it should be final touches and realizations. 

Maybe one of the features doesn’t work in very specific conditions and that’s alright. 

The point of a pilot test is to fix all these small issues that might persist.

If done right, you should be able to move to the production phase without too much hassle, and real-world users shouldn’t face any unknown bugs or big issues with your product.

For a pilot test to be successful, you need to replicate a real-world usage, this means finding users that are willing to test your product just as they would if it were a product they would use regularly. 

This will ensure your tests cover the expected behavior your product will face once released.

This phase should in theory be even more thorough because your pilot testers might know the inner workings of your product, making them even more likely to find a particular issue.

Objectives of pilot testing

To consider your pilot test successful, you should strive to fill these objectives:

  • Get feedback from your users

Doing a pilot test means testing your product in a controlled environment but in a way that resembles its end use as much as possible. 

With this in mind, it’s important, when starting your pilot test, to plan a way for testers to give feedback. 

Depending on the size of your pilot test, this means setting one on one sessions with users to gather all the recommendations they might have. 

Maybe setting up an online forum to be able to respond quickly to their questions and keep track of all that’s happening.

This might also mean having a team dedicated to answering user concerns and transmitting information to the responsible departments.

  • Define the project’s cost, feasibility, risks, time, etc

As you have already done most of the product, you should have a good idea of where you stand regarding the time it took you to build, and the money you’ve spent. 

The difference is you now have feedback from real-world testers, this should give you a precise idea of what’s left to do and what it will cost, as well as the costs of bringing your product to market.

  • Conclude for the success or failure of the product

The previous objective led you to determine your costs precisely. 

With this in mind, you know if your product stands a chance and if you’re willing to invest the time, effort, and money to bring your product to market. 

Making that decision is one of the objectives of a pilot test. 

Deciding you’re not going to move forward with your product is not the end of the world but it’s the point of a pilot test, being able to test your idea before a big release. 

This of course has a price, but one that is far inferior to a large-scale full-release fail. Sometimes, moving away is the best option.

  • Provide a chance for developers to fix the bugs

Now that you’ve decided to pursue your product, you have to organize your teams to make sure all the problems are addressed and that they all get fixed. 

This step can be time-consuming so make sure to order tasks, acknowledging how critical and/or important they are.

Why do you need pilot testing?

Pilot testing has its importance:

  • Decide whether or not your product is ready

Depending on what your testers tell you, you should have a good idea of where your product stands, is it ready to go, or does it need a couple more weeks? 

That’s your call.

  • Finalize your product

The pilot test is a great opportunity to settle all the details and make sure everything is working correctly before the big release.

  • Testing your processes and their scalability

Testing is a privileged way of setting up a challenging environment for your team and product. 

As it reaches a wider audience, your processes face their first challenge, dealing with higher demand and requests. 

This will give you a good idea of what to expect in the later stages of development and production.

5 steps to pilot testing

Here are the 5 steps on how to execute your pilot test:

  1. Planning for Pilot test processes

This initial step is fundamental, write down what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve it. 

Once that’s done, stick to it, this is your roadmap, and all further activity should be derived from this plan.

  1. Preparation for the pilot test

The next step is to get things ready, does everyone know what they’re doing? Is the test environment set up? 

Make sure you have set up ways of getting feedback from your testers or users.

  1. Deployment and Testing

Deployment now ensues, this should be done at the customer’s premises. 

Testing is done by the selected group of end-users. 

  1. Evaluation

Once the product is deployed, it's the user’s responsibility to conclude the status of the product, they should be the ones sending in bug reports. 

Your job is to prioritize these issues and maybe deploy them in production to solve them.

  1. Production Deployment

Once the product’s performance matches the customer’s requirements, the solution can be deployed.

This decision should be made by the customer and not yourself.

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