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Beta Agreements From A to Z

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What is a beta agreement?

A beta agreement is a contract between a company testing a new product and its beta testers. When a product is in beta testing, a beta agreement lays out the terms, privacy policy, and nondisclosure agreement between the company and the testers.

A beta agreement is also known as a beta test agreement, beta test software agreement, beta policy, beta license agreement, or a beta participant agreement form. It’s commonly used when a company rolls out a new software product to a limited group of testers and doesn’t want sensitive information about the product released to the public.

While beta agreements often include nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) or clauses within the contract, they are different from NDAs. Beta test agreements cover privacy and disclosure, but also usually cover other terms and conditions of usage. This includes things like how long testing will last and the roles and powers of each party.

Beta license agreements are also different from software license agreements. Software license agreements cover important details about what customers can do with a company’s fully rolled-out (and usually purchased) software product. Beta license agreements serve a similar purpose, but may impose a deadline on the software’s availability for testers, include feedback requirements, or lay out other parameters unique to testing.

The purpose of a beta agreement

The purpose of a beta agreement is twofold. The contract serves to:

  • protect a company’s intellectual property during testing cycles
  • establish guidelines and expectations for testing

A beta policy clearly defines what a company is providing to testers and what testers will offer in return. It sets timelines for testing as well as guidelines for protecting sensitive information about the product. It also outlines how any disputes will be handled if something goes wrong with the beta product or test.

Beta participant agreements center on property law. They tend to limit a company’s liability and offer few or no warranties while requiring feedback from testers.

When do I need a beta agreement?

Companies need a beta agreement when signing up beta participants to their testing program. This is typically before a product or a version of a product has been released to public markets.

Parts of a beta agreement

There are many important parts to a beta agreement, including:

  • The roles and powers of the company and tester
  • The duties of each party, including tester feedback provision
  • Copyright and ownership details
  • Liability protections
  • Nondisclosure agreement
  • Privacy policy on data gathering and sharing
  • Term and date of termination
  • Support terms
  • Dispute resolution process

Depending on the company, product, testers, and type of testing taking place, beta participant agreements may have additional sections. These may include fees and payment, modification, assignment, severability, and governing law and jurisdiction.

Is a beta agreement legally binding?

Well-composed beta tests are legally binding. To ensure a beta test agreement is complete, check to make sure it includes all the parts of a beta agreement listed above and that each section includes all necessary details to hold up to legal review. If you’re not sure what to look for, you can use contract lifecycle management software to create and manage legally binding agreements.

Limitations of a beta agreement

In order for a beta agreement to be legally binding, testers must consent to its terms. Clearly communicating the details of the beta license agreement is key to gaining consent.

Beta agreements usually have termination dates, rendering them invalid once a testing cycle is complete. If testers will still have access to your beta product or roll over to become regular users of the final product, be aware that the original beta agreement will no longer apply. Companies may need testers to sign multiple beta agreements if they are participating in multiple testing cycles.

Signing a beta agreement

Signing a beta agreement is very common for participants of product beta testing. For example, your favorite subscription box provider may send you an email asking if you’d like to beta test their new app in exchange for free bonus items in your box.

If you’re asked to sign a beta agreement, carefully read through it to ensure you agree with the terms. Most beta participant agreements detail certain expectations from testers, such as feedback on the product and how that feedback should be delivered. If something seems unclear, contact the company with questions.

Creating a beta agreement

As mentioned above, creating a legally binding beta agreement requires including all the necessary parts of the contract. If your company is planning to beta test a product, such as a new piece of software, you’ll want to create a beta test software agreement for testers to sign.

A legal team can help ensure that your beta agreement includes the necessary terms of service, privacy policy, and nondisclosure agreement for a complete contract. If you don’t have a legal team, however, there are other options such as using contract software.

Creating a beta agreement doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. With the right tools, beginning the contact creation process is easy.

Managing beta agreements

Beta license agreements may be signed by hundreds or thousands of beta testers in different jurisdictions and on different dates. A company may also have multiple beta testing cycles. Managing all these beta agreements and their terms and terminations well is critical to smooth beta testing processes.

Many companies struggle to manage beta policies well. That’s because data from these contracts is stored in separate systems that don’t intercommunicate.

As a result, the process of creating, signing, and managing beta agreements becomes isolated from other processes. This creates bottlenecks in testing. Without transparency in the contract process, departments easily become siloed from one another and team members are left unsure of whether to proceed with testing.

The solution to this problem is an all-in-one contract lifecycle management solution. With the right platform, companies gain one source of truth and full transparency into the entire beta agreement process.

Today’s digital contract lifecycle management solutions use automation, intelligent design, and dashboards to simplify processes such as creating, signing, and managing beta agreements and other contracts.

With contract management platforms like Ironclad, companies gain clear insights into where contracts are in their lifecycle as well as customizable workflows for legally binding agreements. With a few clicks, team members can see which beta agreements are approaching termination, which have yet to be signed, and much more.

Next steps

Automate away your contracts with Ironclad. Sign up for a consultation here to be one step closer to creating your first beta agreement.

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