The Basics of Test Data Management

Test data management is the creation of non-production data sets that reliably mimic an organization’s actual data so that systems and applications developers can perform rigorous and valid systems tests. 

It is important that dat a represents the production data as closely as possible. If the data poorly represents that sampled source, or consumes excessive resources for preparation and maintenance, this can negatively impact the testing process and degrade the results of the test effort. High-quality test data helps automate testing and achieve the progressive inclusion of Continuous Integration (CI) methodologies. A structured approach to the creation and configuration management of test data also saves time and resources at the project and program level during testing.

What do I need to know about test data management? 

The quality of test data matters. If applications are tested against generic data many problems can arise once the application is put into production. To avoid problems, applications must be tested rigorously against data that is as similar as possible to the actual data that will be used. 

Why not copy production data for tests? 

Production data is often not practical for use in a test system due to security and regulatory concerns. Data that has personally identifiable information must be altered in order to protect people from having sensitive data exposed to the development and testing teams. Test data management uses data masking techniques to obfuscate personally identifiable information while still retaining the formatting and other data properties that are important for testing. 

Who uses test data management? 

Test data management is used by organizations that do a lot of business critical processing of sensitive data. It is especially important in industries such as health care where a breach of sensitive customer data could be extremely damaging. However, most organizations have some data that is sensitive and needs to be masked for testing purposes. 

What are the benefits of test data management? 

Test data management helps organizations create better quality software that will perform reliably on deployment. It prevents bug fixes and rollbacks and overall creates a more cost-efficient software deployment process. It also lowers the organization’s compliance and security risks.

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