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How Well Do You Manage Data?

Data. One of the single most important tools a tester has in their arsenal.  Yet many test teams overlook the importance of managing test data.  They rely on testers to create and re-create data manually time and time again, adding hours or even days onto testing timetables, not to mention the increased risk of data errors.

Do you manage your test data?  Finding or creating test data appropriate for every test run is a time consuming and expensive process. By implementing a solid test data management process and utilizing a good data management tool, your team could cut testing costs drastically.  Not to mention easing some of the stress of the testers in the process and safeguarding sensitive production data.

The first step is understanding what kind of data you need. This means having complete knowledge of the end-to-end business process and the data needed from all applications involved.  Generally, a tester only needs a subset of this data.  But bear in mind that this subset needs to include data that will force error and validate boundary conditions. As always, sensitive data needs to be masked as necessary for the application under test.

One of the most difficult things a tester runs into is refreshing their test data, and this is where test data management can really excel.  During the testing process, test data can get corrupted or diverge from the baseline, causing tests to be inaccurate representations of real scenarios.  But, as all testers know, refreshing data can be time consuming and costly.  Having a test data management tool in place can streamline this process and leave testers free to refresh their data with ease whenever they need to.

So how can good test data management practices help you?  They can eliminate the labor involved with data refreshes and data creation, decrease the necessary storage space, keep confidential data masked, and increase the number of scenarios tested before problems are discovered in production.


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