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NOVEMBER, 2020

by Michiel Mulders

What Makes a Good Test Data Manager?

Have you implemented test data management at your organization? It will surely benefit you if your organization processes critical or sensitive business data. The importance of test data is emphasized by the fact that issues related to test data account for 15% of all software defects.

If you’re looking to hiring a test data manager, read on. We will discuss exactly what a test data manager does, what skills a test data manager needs, and the benefits of hiring a test data manager.

 

What Is Test Data Management?

Let’s first dive into the definition of test data management (TDM). The process of managing the data necessary to fulfill the requirements of automated tests is known as test data management. A test data manager can use a test data management solution to create test data per the needs of the tests.

A test data management solution must ensure that it provides only high-quality data. The reason is that poor quality data is far worse than having no data at all. Poor-quality data can give erroneous results that cannot be trusted. Fidelity is another important requirement of test data: the test data must resemble your real production data as closely as possible.

Job Responsibilities of Test Data Managers

So you’ve decided that your organization needs a test data manager? Thinking about the job responsibilities that they will handle? Let’s explore some of the key job responsibilities of a test data manager.

One of the key responsibilities handled by a test data manager is the development and execution of an organization’s long term strategy for enterprise test data management. In addition, test data managers are responsible for estimation of testing-related tasks, analysis of testing requirements, design and development of supporting tools, testing, and implementation of TDM processes and solutions.

Test data managers create processes that are both consistent and repeatable in support of multiple functions. These functions can include repeated identification and masking of test data for different applications, and frequent refreshing and updating of test data as needed.

Another very important responsibility of a test data manager is to ensure compliance with IT security guidelines and data compliance regulations.

Test data managers are also responsible for providing data for QA testing, user acceptance testing, and performance testing.

What Skills Does a Test Data Manager Need?

You must make sure that your test data manager has the skills necessary to handle all the responsibilities that come with this position. For example, they should know how to use TDM tools to create and mine test data. They should be able to automate quick data generation. This would be a big bonus for your organization, because you can test many scenarios very rapidly.

A talented test data manager identifies inefficiencies in the test data and optimizes it to improve the testing process. Imagine you are manually updating timestamps to ensure no timestamps have dates in the past. A test data manager identifies this process as slow and prone to errors. In this case, they might decide to create a simple script that verifies and updates all timestamps to a future date.

A well-qualified candidate should be able to understand and process requests for the test data from test data analysts and other requesters. They should be able to work alongside all types of analysts and engineers. Thus, your test data manager must have extensive engineering skills. For example, skills such as Java (Hive, Apache, Hadoop) and Scala (Apache Spark, Kafka) are beneficial.

Your test data manager should have experience in automation using Excel Macros, QTP, and similar tools. Furthermore, having a good understanding of database technologies like Big data/Hadoop, Teradata, SQL Server, or DB2 will help the candidate manage data storage tasks.

Lastly, the ability to apply data masking techniques is a non-negotiable skill for the position of test data manager. Masking data is necessary to protect your company’s reputation and your users’ data by avoiding harmful data breaches.

Benefits of Hiring a Test Data Manager

#1. Feeds Automated Tests With High-Quality Data

The most important reason for hiring a test data manager is to ensure that high-quality data is fed to automated testing algorithms.

If the quality of the data that you feed into your testing is poor, then your testing can fail. No amount of strategizing will save your testing if you use low-quality data. Therefore, don’t spend a lot of time creating a detailed testing strategy if you don’t have high-quality data.

#2. Makes Data Available for Testing

The test data manager’s main role is test data generation and testing itself. A test data manager ensures that high-quality test data is always available when it’s needed. This makes for a smooth testing process.

The availability of high-quality test data when it’s needed for testing is crucial. That’s exactly what a test data manager makes happen. For example, imagine your development team is waiting for testing feedback about a newly created release. However, the development team is slowed down because the test data still hasn’t been created. Ideally, your test data manager decides which test data will need to be created while the new functionality is being developed. That way, availability of test data is coordinated with a new release and the release can be tested immediately. This saves valuable time for the development team.

#3. Helps Create a Documented TDM Process

A test data manager documents your TDM process, which is of utmost importance. Having a documented TDM process helps other team members understand how the test data manager generated test data and approached the testing of application scenarios.

In case your test data manager falls sick or decides to leave the company, your organization can fall back on the processes documented by the test data manager. Your team will be able to quickly understand and execute TDM-related tasks.

#4. Helps Find the Bugs as Early as Possible

A test data manager ensures that your TDM process runs smoothly. This leads to an increased chance of catching bugs sooner. The cost of fixing bugs will increase with the total time it takes to detect them.

The Growing Need for Test Data Managers

The need to hire test data managers is growing due a tremendous rise in the amount of data we produce. The amount of data generated today is enormous with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated daily. In the last two years alone, we have generated 90% of all data that was ever generated in this world.

Another reason test data managers are in demand is to protect against test data breaches. The cost of a data breach can go as high as$4 million per breach. However, many organizations don’t yet see the value of test data management, as only 24% of organizations mask their data.

Filling the position of test data manager has become very difficult. The position requires skills in many different domains, like programming, engineering, data masking, and project management. There is tremendous competition among companies to hire test data managers with the right combination of skills.

Conclusion

In this post we’ve covered the necessary skills a qualified test data manager must have. A test data manager should have a wide variety of skills, including data engineering, software engineering, and testing skills. In addition, seek strong project management skills in a test data manager.

Test data managers work with the development team to generate test data for new features and releases. Test data managers also test new scenarios as quickly as possible to provide the development team with valuable feedback. In other words, test data managers improve the testing phase of the software development lifecycle by ensuring the efficiency of the testing process.

Now that you understand what makes a good test data manager, it’s time to look for the right person to complete your team!

Michiel Mulders

This post was written by Michiel Mulders. Michiel is a passionate blockchain developer who loves writing technical content. Besides that, he loves learning about marketing, UX psychology, and entrepreneurship. When he’s not writing, he’s probably enjoying a Belgian beer!

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