What a Beta CU Does
- Assigns a designated contact person(s) to coordinate directly with our QC team at least once a week during the beta period.
- Attends beta training (done via web conference) and passes along information about the software changes and the beta-test procedures to all other CU employees.
- Tests (or at least tries) every new feature in a release…even stuff they don’t normally use a lot.
- Logs details from all CU employees about problems found, including samples of error messages, research into the specific steps taken, conditions at the time of the problem occurred, and what the employee saw and experienced.
- Contacts us quickly when issues arise so we can research and address them in a timely manner within the beta period.
- Gives specific, detailed feedback about new features and enhancements to help our testers and documentation teams.
What You Get from Us
- Early training…Our QC and documentation team will hold a beta-training web conference with your designated contact person(s) to explain what will be changing and any specific areas we need you to concentrate on for special testing (for example, we may want you to work with software as is for a while, then change a configuration setting and work with it some more under the new settings).
- Early documentation…We’ll have a draft version of the Release Summary ready for your employees. This will give a basic overview of all of the major changes in the release (we’ll use this summary during our training with you). You may need to supplement this with special instructions for your staff, according to your situation.
- One-on-one support…A representative from our Quality Control team will work directly with your designated contact person(s) to answer questions and relay information about updates.
- Prompt attention…As we make program adjustments and address issues that come up during the beta period, you will receive regular GOLD updates. This typically happens about once a week, but could be even more often if needed. Our goal is to keep your teams working, so we work hard to address critical issues quickly.
- Q: My credit union is part of Xtend Shared Branching. Can we ever be included in a beta test?
- A: It depends. Using shared branching does not automatically exclude you from the beta pool! But the specific changes being made can affect how your credit union works with others who are not part of the beta. The most common example is shared branching but might also include vendor relationships as well. This becomes an issue when the release includes changes to the database structure itself (new data in files or changes to the data’s format). CU*BASE requires that all of the data used by a particular process, such as teller posting, use the same data structure. But during a shared branch transaction, CU*BASE must interact with both your data and the data in another credit union’s database. If the other credit union is not part of the beta but you are, errors occur and teller posting won’t work. So when you see a “No” for Xtend shared branching in the eligibility matrix above, it doesn’t mean we don’t want you, it’s just that the improvements in the release involve changes to core membership, transaction, or account files used by teller posting. (Note: Theoretically a CU could temporarily deactivate shared branching to participate in a beta-test. But as you can imagine that’s not a real popular option!)
- Q: Is there a limit to the number of CUs that can be in a beta?
- A: That depends. From a practical standpoint, we need to make sure we can handle the daily interactions with your coordinator, so we can’t have so many CUs that we cannot adequately support you. But in some cases if we wait a couple of weeks into the beta period, as things settle down we can usually add a larger group.
- Q: Can I be a beta if I only want to get one of the new features?
- A: Usually, no. Sometimes we do specific project betas for credit unions who are paying for custom development work, in which case we keep their project separate from other development and therefore can deploy it independent from other release changes. In a nutshell, you can’t just dip your toe in, you have to jump in the water! (But of course we aren’t going to force you to do anything you, your team, or your members really aren’t ready for, either.)
- Q: There’s a feature in the release I’m anxious to roll out to my members. Should I plan my marketing campaign for before or during the beta?
- A: Actually, we suggest you not plan any formal marketing rollout during the beta period. During beta-testing we often make changes that might cause your marketing materials to need adjustments, and we certainly don’t want you to waste money on printed flyers or statement inserts that end up not being usable! Although you will sometimes introduce new things to members as part of beta-testing them, we recommend a low-key approach until the software is officially in production.
- Q: I’d like to be in the beta, but my coordinator is out of the office the first week of the test. Can I still participate?
- A: Yes. As long as we have at least one CU to start on the official date, we can add additional CUs later on during the beta period. We just don’t want to lose a valuable beta-test week, so CUs willing to jump in on the first day will be given preference.
- Q: I still don’t have a GUAPPLE to deploy GOLD updates. Can I still participate?
- A: Sure, as long as you are willing to handle frequent GOLD updates via your usual procedure.
- Q: Will there be documentation for my staff to use?
- A: Yes, the working draft version of the Release Summary will be given to you in advance of your beta training session, and we’ll send updates of this document now and then, if updates are made. However, since our doc teams will be working on the doc at the same time as you are doing the beta test, beta testers will not have access to updated online help or other documentation until the release goes live for all CUs.
- Q: I’m doing a beta test now. Can my staff continue to call CSRs with their questions?
- A: As a rule, during the beta-test we want you to funnel all questions through your designated contact person and your assigned QC tester. Even if the question doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the beta, you never know when a problem might be related to a behind-the-scenes program or file change, and we need to know about everything you are experiencing. If the question turns out not to be beta-related after all, you’ll be connected with a CSR that can help.
- Q: I’m a self processor. Can I still be in the beta-test?
- A: Yes, in many cases we can arrange for self processors to participate. It will depend on the particulars of each release, of course, but we’d love to add you to the pool.
Jump in the Pool
If you’re ready to jump into the beta pool for the upcoming release, please complete the following form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.