Agency Experience – Montana on the Benefits of Beta Testing

May 22, 2019

New AASHTOWare Project software and features go through a number of design and testing iterations before being released. One of the most important stages in this process is getting feedback from selected agencies following tests of new software features using their own data and processes – also known as beta testing.

For the last several major AASHTOWare Project software releases, the state of Montana stepped up to do beta testing. Input from the Montana Department of Transportation provides immense value to the AASHTOWare Project Task Force (PTF), Info Tech, and the entire AASHTOWare Project user community. In exchange for their time commitment, the Montana DOT gets a first-hand look at new enhancements and a chance to provide feedback that will shape the final release.

“Montana Department of Transportation had a very positive experience beta testing AASHTOWare Project version 4.2. Besides the opportunity to test the new functionality, beta testing also provided us the ability to review all functionality in the system through hands-on experience. Because the beta testing was provided and setup in a hosted environment with our agency-specific data, we were able to test our business processes in a realistic environment. This was a great opportunity to see the functionality pre-release and give us valuable insight for our implementation of Construction and Materials.”
                                   – Kathy James, End User Designee, Montana DOT

The PTF is always looking for new states to participate in beta testing of new software enhancements. Though the Montana DOT assisted with the most recent testing, others also served as beta agencies in the past. If your agency is interested, here’s what to expect:

 

  1. The PTF will send out a notice to your agency’s end user designees or EUDs looking for beta volunteers. Beta agencies are selected based on various considerations related to the features being tested.
  2. After signing up for beta testing, the beta test coordinator from Info Tech will contact the agency’s EUD to begin the beta process.
  3. Each beta agency is required to have its own hosted environment containing its data during the beta phase. In the initial discussions, or mobilization phase, data agreements are signed and data is transferred from the agency so Info Tech can build the hosted beta site.
  4. Following mobilization, the beta test coordinator will schedule a beta kick-off meeting to go over expectations, provide agencies with required materials, and review the beta test plan.
  5. During beta testing, the Info Tech beta coordinator has weekly communication with each agency EUD and a weekly overview meeting is held with all stakeholders to go over testing status and answer any questions.

 

Please note that the average beta period lasts about 21 days and an agency beta test lead is requested to commit 50% of their time during this period. We prefer that the beta test lead is familiar with AASHTOWare Project software and comfortable testing out new features in the platform.

Beta testing is a great opportunity for agencies to get a first-hand look at new enhancements in the AASHTOWare Project software. The feedback from agencies testing in real-world scenarios allows Info Tech to refine and improve the software before it goes into production, ultimately leading to a better end product for all AASHTOWare Project users. By signing up to be a beta state, state DOTs get the opportunity to help catch errors and ensure new enhancements meet key functional requirements.

If you’re interested in applying to be a beta agency, keep an eye out for the EUD notices posted by the PTF. If you have questions about the AASHTOWare Project beta testing process, contact Brian Korschgen for further information.

 

By:      Lora Labonte, Info Tech Project Manager; Brian Korschgen, AASHTO Project Manager; Lisa Durbin, Engineering Operations Manager, Montana DOT