What is Pilot Testing? Definition, Meaning, Examples

What is Pilot Testing?

Pilot Testing is defined as a type of Software Testing that verifies a component of the system or the entire system under a real-time operating condition. The purpose of the Pilot Test is to evaluate the feasibility, time, cost, risk, and performance of a research project.

This testing is done exactly between the UAT and Production.

In Pilot testing, a selected group of end users try the system under test and provide the feedback before the full deployment of the system.

In other words, it means to conduct a dress rehearsal for the usability test that follows.

Pilot Testing helps in early detection of bugs in the System.

Pilot Testing Image

Pilot testing is concerned with installing a system on a customer site (or a user simulated environment) for testing against continuous and regular use.

The most common method of testing is to continuously test the system to find out its weak areas. These weaknesses are then sent back to the development team as bug reports, and these bugs are fixed in the next build of the system.

During this process sometimes acceptance testing is also included as part of Compatibility Testing. This occurs when a system is being developed to replace an old one.

In Software Engineering, Pilot Testing will answer the question like, whether the product or service has a potential market.

Why Pilot Testing is Important

Pilot Testing is Important because it helps in many ways like debugging software and procedure used for testing, checking product readiness for full-scale implementation, better decision on time and resources allocation, gives opportunity to gauge your target population’s reaction to program, measurement of success of program and gives team a chance to practice activities they will use for usability test.

How to do Pilot Testing

The level of Pilot testing depends on the size and scope of your migration project. The actual Pilot testing is done in a dedicated area or lab where users run numerous procedures, transactions, and reports as they simulate the software’s functionality.

Pilot testing can be conducted depending on the context of the project,

  • For a general business enterprise, a pilot test can be conducted with a group of users on a set of servers in a datacenter
  • For a web development enterprise, a pilot test can be conducted by hosting site files on staging servers or folders live on the internet
  • For commercial software vendors, a pilot test can be conducted with a special group of early adopters.

Pilot testing involves following Test Plan

Step 1: Create a Pilot Plan

Step 2: Prepare for the Pilot test

Step 3: Deploy and test the Pilot test

Step 4: Evaluate the Pilot test

Step 5: Prepare for production deployment

Before conducting a Pilot Testing following things need to be considered,

  • Provide adequate training to participants
  • A rollout plan for deploying the servers and preparing systems for the pilot
  • Documentation of the installation process
  • Testing scripts for each software application. It consists of checklists of functions to be executed
  • Provide constant feedback to the design and testing teams from users by using emails or websites
  • Set the evaluation criteria for the pilot, like information about the number of users who were dissatisfied, the number of support calls and requests, etc.
  • Engage a working group of community partners or stakeholders who have invested in your project and will meet regularly to discuss your progress
  • Developed an evaluation plan and evaluation instruments/tools to capture the necessary information about knowledge, changes in attitudes and behavior of the pilot group.

During the Pilot test, the team gathers and evaluate test data. Based on these data, the team will choose one of the strategies.

  • Stagger Forward– Deploy a new release candidate to the pilot group
  • Roll back– Execute the rollback plan to restore the pilot group to its previous configuration state
  • Suspend– Suspend pilot testing
  • Patch and Continue– Deploy patches to fix the existing solution
  • Deploy– Proceed to a deployment of the solution

Good Practice for Pilot Testing

  • Schedule the pilot test two days before the usability test.
  • Do not initiate pilot test until all users, customers and project team agree on the criteria for a successful result
  • Ask users to mark any issues on their copies of materials, describe their concerns, and offer suggestions (if they have any) for improvement.
  • Inform to users the purpose, length, and progress of the pilot

Example of Pilot Testing

Following are some common examples of Pilot Testing:

  • Microsoft runs Windows Insider Programs for Windows 10 Pilot Testing
  • Google runs the Android Beta Program for Nexus Users to test its Android Operating System
  • HP runs online for Pilot Testing its Products & Services


  • Pilot Testing is verifying a component of the system or the entire system under real-time operating conditions.
  • This testing is done exactly between the UAT and Production.
  • It will help to check if your product is ready for full-scale implementation