Written by Richard Lowe

Continued from page 1

Expecting an unsupervised beta testing group to do anything meaningful - Beta testers need well defined goals, constant supervision and strong leadership to be successful. Without these things beta testing is simply a numbers game which does nothing useful at all.

Testing is notrepparttar appropriate time to make design decisions - Something that I commonly see from Microsoft and other large companies is they create a product and send it out to their beta testers for feedback. Guys, come on. Beta testing is notrepparttar 107889 place for this. Design decisions need to be made well before a product is sent out for testing. You want to find out if your users will like a feature? Create a prototype, send it to a statistically valid sample audience and ask them for their opinions. Clearly define it torepparttar 107890 audience as a prototype and survey them for their opinions afterwards. Don't send out a poorly defined "beta test" to a hundred thousand people and try and get their opinions on features. The only thing you are going to accomplish is to get yourself slammed inrepparttar 107891 media. You also find yourself making design changes in a product atrepparttar 107892 wrong stage ofrepparttar 107893 product life cycle. Design changes need to be made duringrepparttar 107894 analysis and design phases ofrepparttar 107895 project, not AFTER implementation.

So how is good testing done?

Analysis and design must be done first - No matter how largerepparttar 107896 project, you will be much more likely to succeed if you do these two steps thoroughly and completely before implementation and testing. Many years ago I had a boss, name of Gary, who didn't understand this simple rule. He asked me to start implementing a warehousing system for a client without writing a specification (over my objections). His concept of design was to spend an hour or two askingrepparttar 107897 customer what was needed, then to start coding, then to showrepparttar 107898 customer, make changes, code some more, showrepparttar 107899 customer, make changes and so on untilrepparttar 107900 customer said "it's fine". Needless to say,repparttar 107901 project took far longer than necessary and did not do a great job of meetingrepparttar 107902 customers needs. It was also very buggy and required an immense amount of support duringrepparttar 107903 first couple of years of it's life cycle.

The only phase whererepparttar 107904 marketing department should be involved is analysis - A well trained analyst understands thatrepparttar 107905 marketing department is a customer and must be included inrepparttar 107906 analysis phase ofrepparttar 107907 project. This isrepparttar 107908 only time (untilrepparttar 107909 product is through testing) that marketing should have any input. If you don't follow this rule you will wind up with a product which changes direction during testing, and thus invalidates your test.

Understand that a specification is a contract - The goal is to implement something that meetsrepparttar 107910 specification. This isrepparttar 107911 only way that I know of to produce a software project that (a) gets finished at all and (b) meetsrepparttar 107912 customers expectations. Of course, this assumes that your analysis and design is top notch. What does this really mean? It simply means that changes torepparttar 107913 design are only allowed duringrepparttar 107914 analysis and design phase. Period. If your customer changes anything at all afterrepparttar 107915 analysis and design, you must reanalyze, redesign and renegotiate - always and without fail.

Let's say you arerepparttar 107916 contractor who has been hired to create a new warehouse system. You do your analysis and design and it is approved byrepparttar 107917 customer. You now have a contract and it is important that your customer understands this fromrepparttar 107918 beginning. Okay, you beginrepparttar 107919 project and your customer decides he wants to add bar coding. This seems pretty simple so you say "sure". Wrong thing to do. You should say either "let's finishrepparttar 107920 project as designed then add things" or "okay, we will need to stop, see how that effectsrepparttar 107921 project (atrepparttar 107922 customers cost), then we will submit a cost and new delivery date".

Maintain standards - Testing measuresrepparttar 107923 implementation againstrepparttar 107924 specifications and standards. Standards should be made known torepparttar 107925 customer as part ofrepparttar 107926 entire package. These might include things like all fields will be validated in specific ways, all buffers will not overflow, screens will have a certain look and so on.

Rememberrepparttar 107927 purpose of testing - Testing should proverepparttar 107928 implementation meets everything included inrepparttar 107929 specifications and standards. Testing does NOT meanrepparttar 107930 product is measured against customer expectations (that's a marketing function which should have been nailed down duringrepparttar 107931 analysis and design phase). You see,repparttar 107932 specification MUST meetrepparttar 107933 customer expectations before implementation beings. Thenrepparttar 107934 final product WILL meet customer expectations asrepparttar 107935 specification isrepparttar 107936 expectation.

Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at http://www.internet-tips.net - Visit our website any time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.

I - I - iMac! Hype Meets Analysts

Written by Mike Valentine

Continued from page 1

Before I turned my attention torepparttar web and small business computing a few years ago, I was an automotive journalist and hadrepparttar 107888 pleasure of attending new car introductions put on at glitzy resorts exclusively forrepparttar 107889 automotive press. Those of us that reported on new car introductions were wined, dined and entertained in first-class style by auto manufacturers and their PR firms before being givenrepparttar 107890 keys to gleaming new models as-yet-unseen byrepparttar 107891 world for first drive impressions and photo ops in stunning locales.

It's a very different world when it comes to computers as they lined up several hundred journalists outsiderepparttar 107892 doors ofrepparttar 107893 Moscone convention center for an hour-long wait and admittance to hard chairs packed shoulder to shoulder as loudspeakers urged everyone to "please move torepparttar 107894 center to be sure all seats are taken so everyone can have a seat." I'd love for Porsche to try that approach and hope for rave reviews fromrepparttar 107895 automotive press.

Some technology columnists routinely gripe aboutrepparttar 107896 lack of objectivity shown by adoring fans of any new Mac product. What is stunning is notrepparttar 107897 adoration at introductory shows, butrepparttar 107898 fact that sales figures of 6 million iMacs overrepparttar 107899 last three years fails to impress. Inevitably comparisons are made to Microsoft andrepparttar 107900 Windows operating system that powers 95% ofrepparttar 107901 PC market. One grumbling post at a tech site message board said, "You won't see iMacs dominatingrepparttar 107902 enterprise!" Darn, Dilbert! You meanrepparttar 107903 post office won't be ordering three million units?

Thank goodness!

As long as Apple needs to produce stunning designs and fun software that makes you smile while you work to attract 5% ofrepparttar 107904 PC market, we won't see mediocre beige boxes sitting in every cubicle in corporate America. Darn, I guess Macs will have to remain in movie production, music mixing, print and online publishing, design and photo studios, education (the State of Maine just ordered 36,000 iBooks for public schools) and biotech firms (Genentech ordered 1000 of these new iMacs.)

Rememberrepparttar 107905 Apple byline is "Think Different." If we all wanted Toyotas, there would be no Ferrari's. If everyone ate at MacDonald's we wouldn't need Chez Panisse. I may drive a VW Beetle and eat at home most nights, but Damn, I'm gonna have an iMac on my desktop!

Mike Valentine does Search Engine Placement for the Small Business http://website101.com/Search_Engine_Positioning WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet Weekly Ezine emphasizing small business on the Internet http://website101.com/arch/

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