FLEXO: What are some of the technologies you’ve beta tested? Which, if any, have you gone on to adopt once they were finalized and made available for sale?
Mayer: All of the Kodak software mentioned here is part of our current workflow process. Future Kodak offerings that are on our testing horizon include new versions of InSite and Prinergy, as well as InSite Creative Workflow and Asset Library, and GMG Proofing Software. Quite often, our beta testing of new products does not lead to a purchase, but it always leads to a stronger vendor relationship and to improvements in the product.
FLEXO: Walk through a typical timeline beta testing a technology – How does the partnering with a supplier begin, how long does it typically last, what goes on during the beta test period, etc.
Mayer: It is critical to have a solid point person “process owner” who is available for questions and support at all times. The beta testing we have done typically lasts for a period of four to eight weeks, although some less involved updates or plug ins can take as little as two weeks.
The process nearly always begins with a demo of the software to see if we want to actually do a beta of the product. If it is an update, this is usually not necessary, since we already have a basic understanding of functionality. Once the beta testing starts, anywhere from two staff members to the entire team is tapped for input as the testing moves forward.
Frequent updates are normally shared, since it is often possible to generate a patch or beta drop to correct an obvious issue while the testing is happening. This is incredibly valuable to both parties, since it eliminates the need for another version to be sent out and this has major impact on time to market.
At the end, a full summary of features tested and subsequent results is recorded and sent to the process owner with any final recommendations and/or feature requests.