Overcoming Hurdles in Test Data Management
A robust testing process is vital to bringing quality software, product, or application to the market. A smooth testing process is fueled by the right quality test data, in the right volume, and the correct format. Thus, testing assurance entirely depends on the quality of test data.
A test data management solution helps to manage the quality of data and ensures the desired availability of test data throughout the software development lifecycle. It helps the developers and testing teams to be more productive. While the importance of Test Data Management (TDM) is well established in determining testing completeness and coverage, implementing a smooth TDM process isn’t easy.
Challenges faced while managing test data
Lack of TDM Standardization and Requirement
Business goals keep evolving to cater to the end-user needs. Hence, it is instrumental in documenting clear test data requirements with the quantity specifications for determining the testing quality. The testing team requires data in different types of formats to carry out different kinds of testing. Thus, within an enterprise, all teams must be fully aware of the TDM process in place and set a standard data request format to avoid scenarios of non-availability of appropriate test data. The standardization in TDM helps to reduce the length of the testing cycles.
Poor Quality Data and Consistency
With more heterogeneous systems involved in an ecosystem, data is found in many different forms and formats, and it can also be dispersed across multiple systems. This is a challenge for many enterprises as they struggle to fetch meaningful data that they can use for testing. A streamlined process and consistent approach to refreshing data are necessary to check the poor data quality and integrity issues.
Data loses its relevance and reliability as it ages. Thus, data needs continuous validation and maintenance of data integrity. The data cycle should be traced from the beginning to improve the data integrity and troubleshoot issues. Enterprises often fail to use a smaller subset of data that mimics the production environment to achieve the best test coverage. Data sets related to a particular defect missed during testing can lead to a significant risk during production.
Compromised Data Privacy
Data can be in the form of sensitive information related to customers or others. Data masking of sensitive information must comply with government security standards and mandates. Breach or leak of data can result in the malicious use of that data and further cause financial damage to enterprises. From the beginning, it is advisable to incorporate encryption and masking steps for sensitive information (transactional data) in the TDM process. With test data encryption, adherence to geo-specific compliances should also be incorporated into the process.
Lack of expertise
The TDM process holds the potential to streamline the testing process but also requires expertise. Often within an enterprise, teams involved in testing cannot identify the appropriate test data management approach required for a particular project. A centralized or dedicated team running the TDM process can be harmful as it hampers continuous data integration. For instance, the TDM team, independent of teams and agile sprints, can increase data volume and the length of data provisioning cycles. Teams working in silos also increase the chances of missing out on external factors, including device location or internet connection, during testing. For instance, there can be a loss of data due to hardware issues which may impact the product quality and can directly impact customers’ lives. Thus, teams’ lack of test data management knowledge can exacerbate the problem.
Adopting TDM platforms is a proficient way to tackle the discussed challenges. They can handle large heaps of data for enterprises, and it can generate reports. Such platforms help teams identify and create data subsets for testing and automate TDM activities such as data masking, data generation, cloning etc., making the process more efficient.
Popular Test Data Management Tools in the Market
Broadcom Test Data Manager
Broadcom TDM platform can quickly create the most miniature test data set necessary to run effective tests. One can also generate test data for multiple scenarios and anticipate and develop data for future scenarios to highlight unexpected results and identify how products react to various conditions. The key features are Generate Data Better and Show Data Better to help store data centrally, clone data (during provisioning) and reuse the existing data to deliver test data whenever and wherever needed.
K2View Test Data Management
K2View TDM platform is one of the top players in data management. Based on user-defined rules, their test data management tool quickly creates and provisions test data subsets from various production sources. Testing teams can directly leverage the self-service portal or APIs to define their desired test data sets. K2View’s solution helps extract all the data associated with the business entities (customers, in our example) from the relevant production systems and synthesizes missing data as required. Their test data solution provides other teams and testers with provision parameter-based subsets. It also protects sensitive data before it is delivered to the appropriate test environments.
Gartner’s “Voice of the Customer” report, published in June 2021, highlights how K2View ensures the high-end security the tool promises for sensitive information. K2View’s key feature automates the data provisioning process on a single platform concerning technologies. It provides dashboards to monitor data requests, track execution status, execution results, and more. It delivers complete test data you can trust and complies with privacy regulations.
Informatica Test Data Management
Informatica TDM platform is cost-effective by consistently automating sensitive information’s data masking process in and across databases. The platform provides compliance at scale with data masking and subsetting capabilities for testing. It also offers services for analyzing or monitoring risks and maintaining compliance with data governance initiatives. Informatica offers valuable test data management resources, including Informatica Cloud Test Data Management, Persistent Data Masking and a data privacy framework with solutions such as Data Privacy Management.
Efficient data integration and using correct data at the right time is the key to functional testing and the correct way to determine a company’s success. It helps to precisely emulate your users’ workflow and interaction with your app. TDM process reduces time consumption by automating the process in any project. Without automation, it will cost a lot and will take more time. TDM also comes with a set of challenges, and planning the TDM requirement and platform can help an enterprise increase the robustness and transparency of the process.
Author: Yash Mehta