Communications Tips for uTest Projects
Author: Cameron Schmidt
Introduction: There are almost 6.9 billion people in the world. Not all of them speak the same language, as we who test with uTest know firsthand. Now let’s assume that each of those nearly 6.9 billion people spoke a different language and couldn’t communicate with one another. How would governments be created? How would technology be produced? How would someone notify another of a problem they have encountered with something? They couldn’t which is one reason we can be thankful that there are many languages that are more universally spoken and understood. Because of these communications things have become very much better in the world. Now, with the development of new technologies and software there is a high demand for testers to make sure that products have as few problems as possible.
So what does communication have to do with beta testing? While it is important that companies communicate with testers about what they specifically need tested, there are other ways that communication can be beneficial.
Means of Communication
Here at uTest there are several avenues that have been laid in front of us to utilize while we test. Some may argue that they are not used often enough, but they are provided. These include the Real-Time Chat, tester messenger, and direct emails. The customers of uTest will most often use the Tester Messenger, which, can be found on any submitted bug report or test case. The Tester Messenger is for conversations pertaining to the bug report, test case result, survey – or any other report.
If you navigate to a particular bug, the Tester Messenger is located on the right side of the page. Sometimes a customer or a project manager will contact a tester using the tester messenger usually to find out more about a report. In these cases, we as testers should respond with the desired information as soon as we can. If a message has appeared in the Tester Messenger it shows that the bug reports and/or test cases are being reviewed. Occasionally, a disagreement may arise between a tester and customer about a bug that has been rejected. In these cases, both parties should try to come to an understanding of what the other is thinking about in respect to the subject of concern. As always, be professional in all communications with the customer and/or project manager.
Another resource provided to testers, project managers, and customers to communicate with each other is the Real-Time Chat. There are some tests where threads will appear with questions to clarify directions, make a list of usernames to connect in an app, or in the case of tests where there is a small window for testing to notify testers of when they should be available. Real-Time Chat can help to avoid future headaches because testers can contact the customer directly and receive a response.
From my own experience there are a lot of times that the Real-Time Chat is not used effectively. I had one such experience during my first test with uTest. I was not experienced with navigating the uTest platform and when I looked at the test I misunderstood some of the directions. The problem could have easily been clarified if I had taken the time to open the Real-Time Chat and explain my situation, but I didn’t and I ended up having all my bugs from the test rejected. I look back on this experience as a learning experience. It helped to remind me of the importance that communication plays in beta testing because there are times where misunderstandings occur, but if questions aren’t asked the clarity of the situation can’t be fixed. Keep in mind that the customer receives an email notification for every Real-Time Chat message. Therefore, assume that you’re in the same room with the customer when you use the Real-Time Chat – be professional at all times.
As I’ve gained some experience with the uTest platform, I have been more likely to receive emails inviting me to participate in upcoming test cycles. These emails are sent from uTest Project Managers or Community Managers looking for specific candidates to fill their testing needs. Communication is very important in the early recruitment parts of tests. A Project Manager looking for testers that have a Mac OS that is running on a PowerPC would like to be able to contact potential testers beforehand to know if they are willing and able to test. In this way, emails allow testers to alert Project Managers and Customers to exactly what device(s) they have available to test and the software versions they are running. The later stages of testing where tests are wrapping up can also benefit from emails. Some such emails may simply be a Project Manager asking the few remaining testers to give an update on the progress of their testing. This will help to make a projection of when testing should be completed.
Conclusion: Communication may not solve every problem that you will face, but it can reduce the unneeded problems that may pop up. Customers can learn how to provide information to testers, testers will learn how to interpret information from customers, and if the situation should arise they can both work out any misunderstandings that may occur about a product. John a Piece once said, “Communication is not only the essence of being human, but also a vital property of life.”