The Importance of Test Data Management in Ensuring High-Quality Software

For any enterprise, the quality of software it’s developing depends greatly on how test data management is conducted. Improper test data handling can lead to unreliable, inefficient, and buggy software and cause waste of resources and/or money.

Test data management (TDM), thus plays a key role in software development because it allows engineers to test their software under realistic situations. Developers can easily verify a software’s performance in real-world environments by testing with real-world data. They can also spot possible flaws before the application is published and make the required changes to assure quality.

TDM improves testing efficiency as devs can save time by reusing data sets across tests. This makes testing more efficient and cost-effective. Furthermore, TDM reduces security risks like data breaches as developers can protect critical data from unauthorized access by handling test data properly. 

What’s test data management?

Test data management or TDM is creating non-production data that’s similar to an organization’s actual data. This data can thus be used for testing and research by appropriate in-house or external teams. However, this replica data is masked or anonymized by certain techniques so that private information of businesses or customers aren’t disclosed to the testers or unauthorized entities. So, in other words, TDM enables testing of company data but without risking security and privacy of the data. 

Image by Lorenzo Cafaro from Pixabay

TDM entails creating and managing test data sets to test software during development. This includes determining what data is needed, producing data sets, and assuring accuracy and consistency. 

How to create an ideal TDM strategy?

Rigorous software testing requires the most favorable test data. For a software to be ready for release, it must work properly and be capable of handling real-world situations. TDM strategy helps create, manage, and maintain test data required to fulfill such requirements. A proper TDM strategy can also boost testing efficiency and efficacy of software testing.  

You can create the perfect TDM strategy for your project by following these steps: 

  • Set Goals- First, you need to define your goals and objectives for software testing. Determine what you want to accomplish and how test data management can help you achieve them along the lines of improving testing quality, speed, and cost.
  • Select Test Data Types- After setting goals and objectives, select your test data which can be any of these- positive data, negative data, boundary data, and invalid data. Determine which types of test data are relevant to your testing process and make sure you have enough of each.
  • Test Data Sources- After choosing the test data types, you must choose the sources. Test data can be obtained from different sources such as production data, synthetic data, and external data sources. You must identify and obtain the data from relevant sources for testing.
  • Test Data Management Plan- After identifying test data kinds and sources, design a management plan. This strategy should describe how you will manage test data during testing. It should cover data collection, storage, protection, and testing.
  • Test data scenarios- Test data have to simulate real-world situations for proper software testing. These scenarios test program functionality under different settings. For instance, if the program in question is a banking application, you could recognize situations like creating a new account, moving funds, and checking account balances. These scenarios require customer, account, and transaction data. Identifying each scenario’s test data requirements ensures relevant and reliable data.
  • Mask data.- Data masking is a testing technique that hides critical data in non-production environment. You need to implement it to protect sensitive data from breaches and cyber attacks, and also to comply with global regulations such as GDPR and HIPPA. Limiting the possession of test data is another technique you can apply for ensuring data security. In this, only test data engineers are allowed to have access to the data. To prevent unauthorized access, you can also make sure the data is safely encrypted during transmission and storage.
  • Validate Data- Ensure your test data is up to the mark. It must be reliable, consistent, and relevant to the testing process. Apply data quality tests to verify that your data satisfies the testing standards.
  • Test Data Management- Finally, keep your test data updated and relevant. Use the most recent test data for testing and regularly monitor the data. If you’re implementing legacy software modernization, then update the databases along with software upgrades. 

No software testing process is complete without comprehensive data management. A proper TDM approach can help you facilitate software testing and release. So, use the information shared in this blog post to create an effective test data management approach that satisfies your assessment goals and objectives. Try to use the best TDM tools that can automate and simplify the testing process and also protect PII data from prying eyes.

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