Test data is the data used to test the software application. Example: For test the login functionality, username, and passwords required. So the values of username and password are test data. This article will give an overview of Test Data Management. Test data are of two types
Static data comprises names, currencies, countries, etc., which are not sensitive. But when it comes to transactional data it involves data like credit/debit card numbers, information about bank accounts or it can be your medical history, there is always a risk of the data getting stolen.
What is Test Data Management (TDM)?
Test Data management is the method by which we can satisfy the test data requirements of test teams by including high-quality data with the right quantity and format. Efficient management of data utilized for testing is necessary to supplement the testing efforts and to maximize return on investment for the highest levels of success and coverage.
Four essential TDM techniques that empower software testing -
Exploring the test data.
Validating test data.
Building test data for Reusability.
Automating TDM tasks to accelerate the process.
Exploring the Test Data
Data can be present in different forms and formats, which can be spread across multiple systems as well. The respective team needs to search for the right data sets by their requirements and the test cases. Locating the correct data in the required format inside the time limitations is critical. This increases the demand for a robust Test Management tool that can manage with end-to-end business requirements for testing an application. It is clear that manually locating data and retrieving it is a slow task and might bring down the efficiency of the process. Hence, it is fundamental to bring into play a Test Data Management solution that ensures useful coverage analysis and data visualization.
Validating the test data
In the present scenario where associations are implementing agile methodologies, the data can be sourced even from real users. This data mostly comes through the application, which continued as practice for creating and exploring test data that gets utilized for conducting test cases by QA teams. Thus, the test data must be secured against any break in the development process, where sensitive personal data such as names, contact details, financial information, and addresses must not get uncovered.
This test data can be additionally stimulated to generate a real environment, which can further influence the outcomes. Real data is vital for testing applications, which are sourced from production databases and later masked for safeguarding the data. It is crucial that the test information is validated and the resulting test cases give a genuine picture of the production environment when the application goes live.
Building Test Data for Reusability
Reusability is essential to ensuring cost-effectiveness and maximizing the testing efforts. The objective should be to utilize it as much as possible and optimize the value of work that has been done. It should be getting from a central repository. Eventually, no time was wasted in resolving any unseen issues with the data. Datasets get put away as reusable assets in the central repository and supplied to the respective teams for further utilization and validation.
Automation can Accelerate the Test Data Process
Test Data Management involves scripting, data generation, data masking, cloning, and provisioning. Automation of all these activities can turn out to be successful. It won't just quicken the procedure yet additionally make it considerably more proficient. During the Management process, the test data gets connected to a specific test, which can feed into an automation tool that confirms that the data is given in the expected format at whatever point is required.
Automating the process assures the quality of the test data during the development and testing process. Like Regression Testing or any common tests, even the production of test data is automated. It helps in replicating enormous activity and the number of users for an application to create a production scenario for testing. It helps save time in the more extended run, reduces efforts, and helps detect any error with the data on an ongoing basis. Eventually, the QA team would be in a better position to streamline and validate test data management efforts.
The benefits of test data management are below mentioned-
Create better quality software that will perform reliably on deployment.
Prevents bug fixes and rollbacks.
Creates a more cost-efficient software deployment process.
Lowers the organization's compliance and security risks.
Customized test data to different kinds of testing - Functional, Integration, Performance, Security, etc.
Thereby resulting in no overstepping of test data by multiple teams.
Traceability of test data to test cases to business requirements helps to understand the test coverage as well as a defect pattern.
Assembles relationships and efficiencies by granting insights-driven Decision-Making across the entire organization.
Reduced data refresh cycle.
Why Test Data Management matters?
The quality of test data matters. If applications are tested against generic data, many problems can arise once the application is put into production. Applications must be tested rigorously against data to avoid problems that are as similar as possible to the actual data that will use.
Data and Continuous Delivery
Accurate, relevant, high-quality data is essential to the cornerstones of Continuous Delivery - Test Coverage, Automation, and Continuous Testing. With quality data, can discover defects earlier in the development life cycle for a less expensive fix and less danger of bugs in production. If testing and QA flop due to poor data quality, end-product fails too. The knock-on impact is unhappy clients who complain to possibly millions of people on social media and switch their service to another brand, taking friends, family, and followers with them. On the other hand, incredible information cleanliness improved security and streamlined data management, resulting in an improved Customer Experience (CX), Digital Happiness, customer loyalty, better brand name, and higher income.
Another obvious standout advantage of getting to grips with data, not just for the test but enterprise-wide. The benefits are mitigating the risk of hefty fines; improving revenue by leveraging quality data, and reducing the risk of security breaches, to drive effective Decision-Making.
The critical phases involved in a TDM process are -
1. Assign Test Data Manager (TDM) and define data requirements and templates for data management. 2. Prepare documentation including a list of tests and data landscape reference. 3. Establish a service level agreement and set up the test data management team. 4. Appropriate plans and papers signed off.
1. Initial setup and sync exercises involve data profiling for each datastore assignment/recording of version numbers for existing data in all environments. 2. Collection/consolidation of data requirements. 3. Update project lists. 4. Analyze data requirements and the latest distribution log. 5. Asses for gaps and impact of data modification. 6. Define data security, backup, storage, and access policy. 7. Prepare reports.
1. Decide the strategy for data preparation and Identify regions needing data to be loaded/refreshed. 2. Identify appropriate methods and data sources and providers. 3. Identify tools. 4. Data Distribution plans. 5. Coordination/communication plan. 6. Test activities plan. 7. Document for a data plan.
1. Execute plans and masking/de-identification where applicable. 2. Backup data and Update logs.
1. Support change requests, unplanned data needs, problems/incidents. 2. Prioritize requests and Analyze requirements and consider if they can be met from existing/modified current data including data assigned to other projects. 3. Required data modification and back up new data. 4. Assign version markers and log with an appropriate description. 5. Review status of ongoing projects. 6. Data profile exercises. 7. Assess/address gaps. 8. Refresh data where needed. 9. Schedule and communicate maintenance. 10. If necessary, redirect requests. 11. Documentation and reports.
What are the best practices of Test Data Management?
Some Best practices for Test Data Management are highlighted below-
Never use excel as a test data source for automation, unless that’s the only option.
Externalize test data.
Discover and understand the test data.
Generate unique prerequisite data through automation for each automation run, wherever possible.
Test data management is the planning, designing, provisioning, storing, and managing test data to be used in testing software or products. Test data management tools help organizations increase the quality of the software by generating synthetic data and data profiling.