Our company, HappyAR, offers a SaaS product that helps companies get their outstanding invoices paid faster. We first designed and built the first wave of functionality based on our experience running professional services companies in the past. Like many other companies experience, most of our invoices were paid on time, but the ones that didn’t cost us resource time with redundant follow-up tasks negatively impacted our balance sheet delayed our ability to see more repeat business, and in rare cases damaged our relationship with clients. In steps Upwork.
While we were proud of the system that we built, we knew that it was designed to help us specifically but we weren’t convinced that the functionality was there to help many. Generating feedback, proposing ideas, and soliciting test data has been a part of this business that has saved us time and money by removing assumptions and creating a development process that builds what people will actually find value in. This overview outlines the steps we use on one channel, Upwork, to source testers and how we efficiently hire them for various projects without disrupting our current client base.
Identify the Testing Strategy and Design the Project for That Specifically
It’s perfectly acceptable to have a general “application testing” project to start with early on, but as things progress, it might save time and money to focus on specific testing objectives. These could be performance testing, automation testing, functional testing, scalability testing, API and integration testing, and even security testing.
Using Upwork, you will be able to source subject matter experts that represent your end user. They are not professional software testers, so expect feedback that may represent a typical user experience on your SaaS application. For this reason, functional testing might be the best type of test case with this method.
We included an example Upwork project description at the bottom of this article. Note that we include company and project information as the network of prospective testers is also a good example of prospective buyers. More eyes on our business is a good thing.
Set Narrow Parameters and Move Outwards
Our methodology for SaaS testing using subject matter experts is to focus on specific, high-value participants, and adjust parameters until we hit the number of testers we need. For example, we may strictly be looking to test compatibility with a different SaaS app that we have a new integration with. Our test plan will require people with very specific tools they use including the one that we’re doing the API testing on. We’re going to want to select experienced, highly rated people with language fluency that matches ours.
As feedback is received, we may determine that we need more data, so we’ll adjust these filter parameters to increase the number of testers and possibly open up to a lower-cost international group of freelancers.
Upgrade the Posting
The free posting is limited to around 15 invitations. It’s very important to create the post and invite filtered subject matter experts directly. This will allow you to proactively introduce your project to get new bids on the work.
Upgrading the posting costs around $30 and opens up the invitation volume quite a bit. Note that the Upwork system looks for SPAM accounts that are sending out a high volume of invitations. Since you’re not doing this, send the volume you need for validation and if the system temporarily pauses you, just explain in a note that you are hiring multiple freelancers.
Don’t be surprised or offended if people decline the invitation. They may be busy with other work, unfamiliar with relevant cloud computing tools, or simply not interested in providing software feedback.
Use Slack as a Communication Hub
We think Slack’s communication channels are far superior to what’s offered on Upwork. While it’s not ideal to use multiple web applications for one project, we rely on Upwork’s functionality specifically for sourcing testers and managing their project hours and payments.
For all communication and sharing of information, we’ll use a private Slack channel created with Slack Connect. This gives us the ability to invite external users to a private communication hub that we can control.
We’ve found that most testers are familiar with using Slack and providing are comfortable with providing an email address for an invitation.
Change the Hours
Upwork will set the default hours to 40 per week when you confirm the hire. Unless you are looking for full-time feedback in your testing methodology, that amount of hours will likely be excessive. We lower this number to 5 per week (the lowest amount) to protect ourselves. You can always increase if that number is close to being exceeded.
Like anything else in the world of hiring, people aren’t always what they appear to be. As technology developers, we’re no exception! The project can start and quickly turn out poorly with misunderstood expectations, bad feedback from a confused tester, or even a huge identified bug in your SaaS platform that needs to be addressed before they continue.
There’s no harm in pausing or terminating the engagement quickly and politely. You can always suggest that you will need their assistance in the future, which you very well may.
Leave a review that highlights the positive parts of their work and move on quickly.
Ask a Lot of Good Questions
Sure, you can and should ask your paying clients questions when appropriate, but keep in mind that they are paying you and have no obligation at all to help you develop a better company – even if they would benefit from that!
But with paid subject matter testers, now is a great time to ask a lot of questions. Receive real-time answers about their current workflow, pain points, how they perceive value, who make buying decisions, what alternatives they have tested, and really anything else that can guide your decisions outside of product development.
You’ll probably uncover a lot to keep in mind for marketing, sales, support, and even competitor analysis!
Try to Bury Your Biases
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values.
It’s easy to allow a bias to be a testing challenge that impacts your development of software as a service. When working on cloud testing, try to stay impartial to the final result and test with multiple people and variables. You may find that your opinion isn’t widely shared by members of the target market and the insight can be valuable.
Record and Implement the Ideas
There are many apps out there that help optimize the recording of future usability ideas. At HappyAR, we use Canny to summarize product ideas that are voted on by system users and us on the team. Weighted scores are used to determine the priority of the requests and there’s a good collaborative process for adding to base ideas, including mock-up and asking questions. We use this platform for quality assurance, data integration requests, new functionality ideas, and internal changes that are private.
You can find other sites for Freelancers using G2’s competitor list. Some of these will have plenty of subject matter experts. Another good option for subject matter experts is Clarity which we have used extensively in the past for software testing.
Upwork Post Example
Our team at HappyAR (www.happyar.com) is looking for bookkeepers to provide product feedback for our SaaS application.
We’re looking for 2-4 separate US-based bookkeepers that use either QuickBooks Online or Xero for sending invoices on behalf of clients. In addition to these platforms, you should also use either Gmail/GSuite or Outlook for your business email.
We will provide you with your own HappyAR account that will integrate to a demo or production invoicing platform for you to test. Our team will have a private Slack channel where you can send feedback and ask questions. You are welcome to send test invoices to our company while testing the system.
Your feedback will be very helpful for us to test new integrations. You’ll help identify issues that need to be addressed and functionality that you might like to see.
HappyAR is a cloud-based application that automates the invoice follow-up process. We help reduce the time spent chasing payments and give other members of your company visibility into the status of outstanding invoices.