Why Test Data Management is Essential to Quality Assurance

Nordea's Andy Armstrong and Delphix's Jedidiah Yueh give a Q&A presentation at the 2022 Gartner IOCS Conference
Better test data management practices help QA teams facilitate quicker, more efficient software releases.

Andy Armstrong is Group Head of QA & Testing at Nordea, the largest financial services group in the Nordic region.

Digital technology has become a ubiquitous, essential element of our lives. And each time we use digital products, we not only want them to work— we also want them to deliver a quality experience. When you open up a browser window, you want websites to load quickly. When you hop on a remote meeting, you want your device to connect and maintain the meeting without lag. And when you access your banking app or website, you want to be able to smoothly handle all of your banking needs. 

Across the banking sector, we’re increasingly interacting with our banking customers through digital channels, and IT has become a critical element in driving quality for our customers. Maintaining our competitive edge in the digitally-driven banking industry of today requires our technology teams to be able to innovate and iterate quickly and efficiently.

As the head of quality assurance (QA) and testing at Nordea, my team and I work across the bank to bolster the agility of technology teams and thus accelerate the delivery of our software. We accomplish this by building a solid foundation of data processes that our teams can then leverage to automate processes and innovate their operations.

Practicing effective test data management (TDM) has been one of the core principles we’ve used to build these foundations of efficient data processes. Data is the lifeblood of any modern enterprise, and provisioning the right data to the right place at the right time is essential for technology teams to automate and innovate. After all, they need that data to replicate our customers’ experience with our software, which gives them the necessary confidence and understanding to improve our software’s performance.

But TDM has its challenges. For one thing, we must ensure that our test data is properly secure. As a bank, one of our utmost concerns is maintaining the security and privacy of our customers’ data— and we’re subject to necessary regulations. So, we follow strict guidelines on how we use personally identifiable information (PII) data. All of our developers and testers, for instance, use either masked or synthetic data— they don't have access to any true production data whatsoever. This gives us and our customers peace-of-mind in releasing software, but it adds time and effort to the data provisioning process.

Even with smooth data provisioning, it’s not always apparent that TDM can be improved. For a long time, it would take almost a month for our teams to provision a database full of data— and we thought this was highly efficient technology!

Updating our processes with more modern TDM solutions has enabled us to improve and expedite our data provisioning even further. We’re now able to automate data masking across our organization, and we’ve been able to reduce our data provisioning time down to a matter of hours, if not minutes. We’ve improved the data processes on which our technological teams rely, which allows them to move even quicker and more efficiently.

One of Nordea’s technology goals is to achieve continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) and release software almost constantly. Improving our TDM has allowed us to make major strides towards that goal.

The more frequently that we can release software, the higher the quality of service that we can deliver to our customers. And by delivering higher quality service to our customers, we build even further on helping our customers succeed at whatever they do.
Learn how your organization can improve its TDM processes today here. You can also watch my video where I discuss this topic further by clicking here.