test data strategy

Test data strategy: supercharge your testing

The concept of test data strategy speaks directly of an undeniable truth around software production: any successful releases are preceded by thorough testing procedures. 

As test data processes can have a great impact on the end result of a production, adopting an adequate test data management strategy provides the means for companies to ensure software quality. 

While many organizations simply focus on compliance with regulations, a good test data management strategy must encompass other challenges of testing today: the delay in receiving the data or the long time taken to create the data themselves is detrimental to the test time.

In this context, let’s take a look at what a test data strategy is exactly and the role of Test Data Management software in boosting testing processes.

What is a test data strategy

A test data strategy can be defined as a plan that establishes how test data will be managed, created, and used during software testing activities. 

As such, the test data management strategy recognises the most important factor in any test environment is to replicate the end-user environment as closely as possible. This typically involves  covering a wide range of scenarios, edge cases, and real-world conditions.

In order to achieve this, the test data strategy outlines the main guidelines and techniques that will be used for selecting, preparing and maintaining test data as the foundation for effective and precise testing. Some factors considered by a  test data strategy include potential data sources, volumes, dependencies and privacy factors.

Why you need a test data strategy

The test data strategy involves taking the necessary measures to ensure thorough testing coverage, which results in an improvement of end result quality. 

Apart from this, a test data management strategy provides a solution for some of the key test data challenges that many organizations meet. This includes

  • A lack of relevant data that can be used during testing
  • The need to create test data manually, which increases costs and time to market.
  • A problem in achieving data that is valid and has integrity

These challenges are exacerbated by today’s increasingly complex testing environments. These new twists and turns range from agile methodologies to automated testing and other system and team complexities.

On the other hand, a test data strategy can boost efficiency in testing processes; ensure compliance with regulations and safety; and overall improve the software’s quality.

6 key characteristics of a successful test data management strategy

A test data strategy should be tailored to the specific needs of each project or organization. This means the  nature of the software, the available resources, and any potential industry-specific requirements must be taken into account. However, a successful test data management strategy will often include the following elements:

  1. Requirements: data attributes, formats and relationships must be established according to the test objectives, test cases, and scenarios to be covered. 
  2. Test Data Generation: the strategy must also consider how the required test data is going to be generated (including options like tools, scripts, or manual methods) as well as the different sources.
  3. Test Data Management: the test data management strategy should establish how the test data is going to be managed, including its storage, organization and maintenance.
  4. Preparation: this involves specifying if the test data needs to be transformed or modified in any way to align with specific test cases, test conditions, or system states. 
  5. Security and Privacy: the  test data strategy should address potential security and privacy concerns, as well as define the protocols for handling sensitive or confidential data.
  6. Maintenance: finally, it’s also advisable to determine the practices for updating and maintaining test data over time, to guarantee testing remains relevant and accurate.

How to supercharge your test data strategy with TDM software

When incorporated into a test data strategy, Test Data Management (TDM) software such as icaria TDM helps teams access quality data for software testing.

This involves  a myriad of operations involved in testing: from the possibility to access synthetic test data to copying, extracting or applying data masking operations. TDM software is also in charge of managing dependencies among elements or entities, as well as providing accurate reporting and security.

The outcome is the automatic generation of data that is comparable to production data, in a safe and efficient manner. 

This results in significant cost reductions and safety improvements, all while boosting the process’ timings. 

Among the test data benefits of applying TDM tools, icaria TDM manages some of the following key operations: 

  • Task automation which translates into reduced wait times by half. Tools like the test data search engine are able to define the data archetype (profile) through the criteria that characterizes it, and locate the data that each test requires.
  • Shortening of work cycles and storage needs thanks to working with small data sets. 
  • Copy subsets of coherent data are produced, with referential integrity and functional richness. These may arise from the application environment in which they reside, or from an internal repository, and then transferred to the environment in which they are needed.
  • Savings on the cost of storage, location and creation of resources are achieved
  • Software quality is improved thanks to better test coverages through quality data, as well as the possibility to anticipate fault detection.
  • A centralization of management and communication.
  • Production of automatic reports.
  • Optimal distribution of storage space.
  • Anticipates security risks.
  • Eliminates out-of-date or irrelevant subsets of data.
  • Applies relevant masking techniques, so that compliance with legislation is guaranteed. This allows organizations to meet GDPR requirements all through an automated identification of sensitive data and anonymisation and pseudonymisation capabilities
  • Increases productivity by automating processes and guaranteeing relevant and quality data is available
  • A self-service approach that incorporates the possibility to generate synthetic data for testing based on templates and models
  • Possibility to develop on-demand design of test cases as part of the test data management strategy. This approach also applies to the tool’s capacity for storage and delivery of the input data required by each test case
  • Execution checks from the data’s perspective
  • Possibility to work with the most popular database including relational, big data and hierarchical technologies, as well as with a multitude of files
  • Integration with third party tools via REST API and extensible code

All in all, these operations translate into significant cost savings, as teams’ productivity is enhanced, and storage needs reduced. Finally, the access to quality and relevant testing data represents a competitive advantage for any testing processes, which in turn often translates into high quality final products.

icaria TDM means test data on demand, when needed and as many times as requested, all while protecting sensitive information. 

If you’re looking for a reliable TDM tool to incorporate to your successful test data management strategy, look no further: icaria TDM facilitates an efficient management of testing environments that translates into reduced times and outstanding software quality, all while complying with data protection regulations. 

Get in touch with our team at icaria Technology and request a free consultation to evaluate your project’s needs and how icaria TDM can cover them.