Friday, October 21, 2011

Beta Testing

        Over the years I have beta tested, several games, and a few products.  All of which were for little or no compensation.  The appeal of beta testing, is getting to try something new and exciting, before anyone else.  This does not mean it will be fun.  In actuality, most of the time the thing being tested does not work properly.  This can have a lasting negative effect on the product at hand.  You only have one chance to make a first impression.  Some of the required testing was very time consuming, while some of the game testing was just fun.  I have been working as a contract estimator, for a large flooring company, for the last three years.  Shortly after I started with this company, I somehow became the resident computer tech.  Basically during one of our quarterly meetings, I showed a few of the other guys, some tricks/shortcuts on the computer system we use.  Ever since that day anytime someone has a question, or needs technical support, they call me.  This is by no means a part of my job.  I do not mind helping people, but when you have the "boss man" directing other employee's to call me whenever they need assistance, this can become quite frustrating.  Since they realized I know my way around a computer, the company has asked me to do beta testing, every time we have new software developed.  I will say that the company I work for, does try to stay on the cutting edge of new technology. Beta testing, is not always a difficult task.  However, there is usually a lot of paperwork and emails involved with each program/application.  This is my least favorite part.  I actually am testing a new online application for one of the main client database programs we use.  Basically in the past I have tested out new software or applications, and then taught my boss and other employee's how to use them.  Not so much beta testing, but rather tech support.  I usually just had communication with my boss directly, then to employee's.  With this new project,  it started same as before having only communication with my boss on the project.  By the second day,  I had found so many bugs and glitches in the system, that I now have direct line communication with the developers. In addition to the developers, I am having communications with the guys who maintain our network, the guys who wrote our other programs, and a second development team.  I have never been educated in the field of computer technologies, but it takes no genius to make sure the application works before you try to beta test it.  The first run began about two months ago.  My boss called me and asked if I minded beta testing this new application.  I remorsefully said yes.  Three weeks behind schedule the software was finally ready.  Within two minutes I had found that one, the application was not working.  Secondly I found about three glitches, and at least five different crucial pieces of data needed missing. For this application to be efficient and beneficial in comparison to what we are currently using, they must include all the key data needed.  After sending the developers a five page email about the changes they needed to make, my boss sent me an email stating, we are not using this application anymore until changes have been made.  Two weeks later I am testing again.  Right away I noticed, they took my advice on several of the key elements needed to make this efficient.  But, they did not change the other ten recommendations I gave.  To my dismay the application still does not work.  The developers are blaming it on the network BES settings.  I forgot to mention this is a PC and mobile application. Our "IT" guys are blaming it on the shitty code.  I do not know how to right code, script, or anything in that realm.  I respect anyone who has taken the time to learn it.  All I know is that these guys are really smart, but they have no common sense.  I wrote another five page email and sent it to my boss, and everyone else involved.  This time I gave step by step instruction, of what we need this program to do.  I also made note that if this development team can not produce the functionality that we need from this application, then we as a company are stepping backwards.  Within two minutes I received an email from my boss that we are no longer using this application, until further notice. Next time they call me and ask to test something for them, I hope that I will say no.  However, I like to be in on the front lines of the new software, so I will probably say yes.

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