Test data is the input used to verify software behaviour. It emulates various environments and scenarios to ensure that the application functions correctly.
However, creating realistic test data is time-consuming and can eat into agile development productivity. This is why effective Test Data Management (TDM) processes are necessary. TDM also reduces product delivery delays due to data-related issues.
Test Data Analysis
Test data should emulate the real data types that users will encounter. This helps QA testers spot errors in app functionality more definitively and increases testing efficiency.
Creating test data management with realistic and valid data values requires time and expertise, especially when the app under test processes sensitive information like credit card numbers or bank account details. It is also important to consider the security implications of test data.
Good test data should include all inputs and conditions, including invalid or negative data. This includes things like using alphabets in the gender field of an application or leaving a field blank. It is also helpful to use boundary data, such as an upper or lower limit on a variable (e.g., maximum number of courses a student can enroll in a semester).
Invalid or negative data helps identify how the system handles unexpected scenarios. Invalid test data also provides an indication of how the program would respond to incorrect inputs, such as entering a phone number with fewer than 10 digits or an invalid format.
Test Data Creation
Creating test data is an important step in the testing process. It helps testers verify the behaviour of an application under different conditions and identify any defects. However, creating a set of test data can be a time-consuming and costly task. According to a 2016 study published on the IBM Big Data and Analytics Hub website, QA teams spend 30% to 60% of their testing time searching, creating, and maintaining test data.
Manually generated test data may not be as accurate as dummy or synthetic data. It can also be difficult to maintain over time, leading to inaccuracies and bugs.
One method of creating test data is to copy and replace production data with dummy values. While this is a viable option for some applications, it can be costly and time-consuming. A better alternative is to use a data generation software program that can create realistic test data and automate testing. This approach can reduce costs and increase testing speed.
Test Data Management
To get the most accurate results from testing applications, QA teams need to test against real-world scenarios. This requires a large volume of test data, including simulated demographic information and positive or negative test cases.
Sourcing such large volumes of test data is a challenge. It takes time and can be costly. Additionally, the sourcing process can be complicated by the need to ensure that data is not corrupted and that it meets the requirements of the business.
Then, once the test data is created it must be stored in a central repository and managed properly. This includes a regular refresh cycle and the management of permissions to prevent access to sensitive data. Additionally, the repository must be organized to enable quick and easy retrieval. This helps to eliminate redundancies and reduce costs for storage, maintenance and search. It also ensures that the right team members have access to the relevant test data at the right time.
Test Data Reuse
For many software applications, the integrity of the data is vital for accurate testing results. This may include checking that a user is who they claim to be, ensuring that passwords and other security information are safe, or that the rights of a given user are properly granted. Developing test data that combines combinations of users and operations can help identify these issues in advance of deploying the system.
Test data management tools can be created manually or through a test data generation tool, although ideally it should be retrieved from the production environment where the application was designed and coded. This ensures that the test cases are based on realistic data, and allows for coverage of negative scenarios as well.
In addition to valid test data, it is also useful to include invalid inputs, which can help identify bugs that might be difficult to spot with just clean data. This will require more time and effort to create, but it is an essential part of a complete software testing approach.