I'm building a database with one other guy. He's not a developer by training, but he built version 1, and he's contracted me to help out with version 2. We're the only developers on the project.

My boss's partner is a firm in a niche industry that doesn't have any pre-built database solutions. They commissioned version 1, and now they want a professional product that they can on-sell to the rest of their industry, so it needs a decent testing period before it can be marketed and sold.

I'm a student programmer, I've never done the testing and release process before, and now I'm in the position of being, effectively, the QA manager. I do have some experience in beta participation and writing bug reports as an end user, but that's where my specific experience ends.

I only have a small group of sales staff, tradesmen and managers at the firm who will be testing our database. I'll have to not only learn how to run a beta, but also how to prime them on how to test well.

I'm looking for resources that provide a good starting point to understand this process.

  • 3
    Hi Excrubulent - welcome to SQA. It's not clear to me what you're hoping to get out of your testing - are you clear about what information you want to find out? If you're looking to beta test your product to check market fit, then you might want to check out our sister site answers.onstartups.com/questions/tagged/beta - but just a tip, don't repost there if you decide it's a better fit, just ask us to migrate this over there. If you're wanting tips on coaching your non-pro test team on how to find quality related information (e.g. bugs, but also other concerns), here's a good place. :)
    – testerab
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 13:08
  • Hi testerab, my question isn't about the market - we've been getting feedback on features throughout development from the partner company, and we already know that version 1 works well for them. This is all about coaching the testers and doing the bug-fixing. I only mentioned on-selling to make the point that this isn't just an in-house product where your beta testers are also your entire audience - we need to do some fairly thorough testing before we can sell this as a professional product. Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 20:59
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    Ahh, okay - in that case, I'd suggest that you're not actually after beta testing, but advice on how to run testing using a team with no test experience when you have no/little test experience yourself! Editing the title/question to reflect that might be a good idea. There may be relevant questions on here already, will have to look later though I'm afraid (family waiting to go out!).
    – testerab
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 13:42
  • Thanks, I've updated the title. Also, I did look around, but it's a hard thing to search for, and the most relevant this I found were book recommendations. If I'm going to read a book, I'd rather start with something that applies to this situation than something that's more about running a professional testing team. Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 1:09
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    @Excrubulent I think the problem is you ARE running a testing team, professional or not, and the information you are about in structuring what you are doing is going to be the same. Any recommendations will be book recommendations, that will either be general or about specific testing processes. For what you want, there is little more you can do other than bring in a consultant to start a group for you.
    – MichaelF
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 12:06

2 Answers 2


If it's true that you "need to do some fairly thorough testing before we can sell this as a professional product.", have you considered hiring an experienced contractor?

You could hire someone to come in and do the testing.

Or you could hire someone to come in and do just enough training that your group of non-professional testers could get some testing done.

Are your developers capable of lending a hand in the testing effort? Certainly, they must know something about the "requirements" as they are writing the code. Perhaps they can help testing, or coaching others?

Aside from that, the best you can do is probably to write up the usage scenarios that you want people to explore, give them some sense of what would constitute a bug and what to do if they find one, then hope for the best.

Do these sales folks, tradesmen, and managers understand the domain and the ideas behind the product enough to be able to distinguish "goodness" from "badness"? If so, perhaps you have a chance to spot at least a few surface-level bugs.

Good luck.

  • Thanks, this is useful general info. As for my developers, they are me and my employer. Also, I'm afraid hiring a test team is probably beyond the budget of this project. I could suggest it, but it's not my money. In the end, I'm going to end up doing what you suggested - write up scenarios and give instructions on what to do. We'll see how they do! At least we've got Bugzilla. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 5:39

Where to start:

  1. Ask for advice (online is OK, but communication with your team is most important)
  2. Clarify your role with your employer
  3. Meet with stakeholders and get general principles of what they expect. Write stuff down.
  4. Explore the application and typical user scenarios, to gain some familiarity with the concepts
  5. Design some test cases, grouped by feature sets.
  6. Test that all the application features are working under "normal" usage scenarios
  7. Test that application handles "abnormal" scenarios, ie. incorrect inputs from malicious or inexperienced user
  8. Imagine the broader context of the application, the source of data input, and the way that output might be used.
  9. Learn more about testing buzzwords... boundary values, equivalence partitions, performance, security, PCI compliance, browser compatibility, accessibility, system integration.
  10. Learn to think like a tester... http://testology.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/key-testing-skills/

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