Test Data Management Simplified: A MESC Recap

Test Data Management Simplified: A MESC Recap
Susan Taylor, Vice President of Consulting, Testing – September 25, 2014

Last month, I presented at the Medicaid Enterprise Systems Conference on “Test Data Management Simplified”. My goal of the presentation was to shed light on the factors to consider when determining how much data will need to be built, replicated and masked for successful test execution, best practices regarding environment management, as well as uncovering the simple test strategies to solve common test data management problems.
Many of those who didn’t attend (but wanted to) have asked about my presentation so I decided to post some of the principles from it here.

The term “test data management” can send fear through the very core of test leadership. Test Data Management doesn’t have to be scary, complicated, or difficult to manage as long as the test strategy and approach is thoroughly evaluated.

Business sponsors may not understand the value of controlled testing and would rather see large volumes of claims processed to prove the test team has performed effective testing-not generally the best approach. Management may also think the only way to solve this problem is an expensive tool or complicated environment strategy, often unnecessary if data is kept to a minimum.

Scoping and planning of the test effort to determine effective testing coverage is critical, but more is not always better. Communication and approach up front in the effort with your business partners will help manage testing expectations and results.

There are many key processes outside of test planning and test execution that are critical to each effort including:

• Test data development
• Test coordination and management across support teams
• Formalized defect review boards
• Management of data usage across teams
• Environment coordination which builds and refreshes
• Change control processes
• Ongoing communication vehicles

The test scoping effort across your team as well as others will help drive the process to either mine or build the data.
• Planning sessions to request data needs from all teams including provider, member and claims data occurs in the planning process
• Do the teams need large files or specific data?
• Test case development should leverage smaller key sets of data managing dates of services and targeted scenarios that map to specific requirements
• Provider data is re-usable and a standard set of types of providers and reimbursement methods should be established
• Member data should be simple and sets of members assigned to testing groups to eliminate overlap and errors during test execution
• Documentation and assignment of test data is key!

Once the above scoping effort is complete the test data build now begins. In effort to keep this blog post small, I did not include all of the ideas that built my presentation. I also discussed data builds made simple, tool options, and welcomed any questions or comments in regards to test data management.