Do we need beta programs?

I see it again and again — some developers are so focused on delivering the software that they forget to get an early prototype out for people to check and provide feedback. It is almost like in one of the classic Dilbert cartoons, where a developer was complaining about “evil-spawned users”…

There are a couple of steps to take to try to alleviate this problem. The first one is to educate developers, explain the benefits of (very) early interaction with users, of software as incremental artifact — all known good software engineering principles, too many times lost in the daily charge to “release date”.

The second one is to do something similar to what IBM did internally — a Technology Adoption Program. In a nutshell, you can deploy your beta version internally, and early adopters start using it and provide feedback — without having to go to customers while you are still polishing/finalizing your software.

Give it a try…