Test data management (TDM) has been notorious in the IT industry and departments for being highly complex and necessary. Many organizations approach TDM without a proper strategy, viewing it mostly as a process rather than an initiative. In a DevOps cycle, TDM plays a vital role in advancing or inhibiting progress. While everyone understands the importance of test data, its management is often ignored or lost in translation during planning.
Lack of planning and strategy often leads to expensive mistakes in test data management. Almost every aspect of TDM can be a bottleneck in the development cycle but also has a lot of room for optimization. Some of these efficiencies can be achieved with strategic planning of test data, and tools and integrations can handle others. Strategic and smart TDM can have a huge technical impact on your products and services, but we are here to examine the business benefits of the right process.
Before we move forward, here are a few properties of a smart TDM process:
- Error-free, high-quality, and expansive availability of test data
- Low overall provisioning time for most (planned) development activities
- Centrally managed but self-serviceable test data
- Properly updated and versioned test data
- Low storage footprint with optimal cleaning and handling
- Supports multiple, parallel, and in-sprint testing as much as possible/required
- Automation-enabled processes like provisioning, virtualization, masking, synthetic data generation, etc.
Each of these properties can be achieved with the right TDM strategy. However, each goal mentioned above packs high levels of complexity and dependency on each other. Thus, a combination of technical and tactical approaches is required to manage test data smartly. Once achieved, here are the benefits you’ll receive for your business.
Customer Experience and Servicing
The latest generation of technologies can automate customer servicing to almost 90%. Customer support is a key factor in their experience. However, the association of trust largely depends on the reliability of applications and the back end. Smart test data management facilitates error-free deployment from production, and customers are served with seamless, fast, secure, and error-free experiences.
On the support side, technical support is much more costly, time and labor intensive, and difficult to handle overall. System and application problems are also persistent and often unpredictable if not addressed at the root cause. Such a situation negatively affects the bottom line and top line of a business.
Shifting Left to Move Right Faster
For growing companies, improving the customer experience (55% of respondents) and increasing operational efficiency (53% of respondents) are the top initiatives driving IT investments (cio.com). Operational efficiency is largely plagued by processes that are time intensive and/or foundational requirements in critical steps. Test data provisioning and related activities are among these. Smart test data management ensures minimal time and labor requirements to move forward (or backward when necessary).
Shift-left is among the key DevOps approaches that mostly depend on testing. Thus, TDM can strengthen DevOps through error-free and time-efficient test data provisioning. The overall decrease in time-to-market can be as much as 45% by smart test data management alone.
Decentralize Power and Liabilities
Software testing, whenever dependent on test data provisioning, often faces bottlenecks due to operational and system-access limits. Smart test data management accounts for this through a strategic balance between centrally and decentralized managed data. Centralization, while highly advantageous, can become a retardant in high-growth and high-demand environments. Thus, allowing smaller units to manage and self-service test data can help accelerate many processes and empower teams to move forward efficiently.
The redistribution of power will also redistribute responsibility among the teams and support high-functioning units at all levels. This concept is especially advantageous with TDM, where both technical and operational factors impact time efficiency.
SLK Software is a highly experienced consultant in smart technologies. Our data technologies and transformation initiatives have benefitted every customer, including Fortune 500 companies. We have transformed data management in industrial applications like manufacturing, BFSI, investment management, etc. Our RoI-led, future-oriented approach, enhanced by in-house products and AIs, can help you transform your IT operations for agile and high-growth strategies.
TDM is a crucial part of agile DevOps and can hurt the business processes and overall competitiveness if handled incorrectly. You can explore ample solutions using tools and integrations against technical challenges. But TDM also requires an operational shift in management which is easy to align with your requirements. You can also explore AI-enabled technologies to enhance and improve test data management and other processes. The key is to identify problems and areas of improvement categorically and establish relations between disparate goals. This’ll help you map the strategy to practices and achieve the desired results.