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Test Data Automation | What it is, When & How to Perform?

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At the intersection of testing and automation comes test data. Every tester deals with a variety of test data while executing the test cases. Not only do they maintain an extensive library of data useful in the testing process, but also generate a huge volume of data during the test runtime. And because data is such an important part of the testing process, it is important for testers to learn, understand, and correctly apply test data automation practices.

We explore the topic of efficiently approaching the test data collection, generation, maintenance, and automation techniques.

What is Test Data Automation?

Test data automation refers to the process of automatically generating, managing, and provisioning test data for software testing purposes. 

An example of test data in an automated testing process for a login system could be using a test data automation tool that generates a range of user credentials (usernames and passwords) with various combinations. These credentials are then seamlessly integrated into the testing framework, allowing comprehensive login scenario testing while ensuring data privacy through the masking of sensitive information.

Why Test Data Automation?

For any application, testers attempt to run test cases with real-life data to replicate the real-world scenario. Clearly, such an approach will uncover defects customers might face when the application becomes available to them. But sourcing or generating data that resembles a real-life setting is a painstaking process. Testers would either need to wait for the data to become accessible or spend time producing all of it themselves.

Moreover, With automation, your QA team can likely reduce these factors by more than half and improve the test case execution with accurate input data and understandable output data. In software testing, having appropriate and representative test data is crucial to ensure that the software is thoroughly and accurately tested. Test data automation aims to streamline and optimize the management of test data, making the testing process more efficient, reliable, and repeatable.

But creating, processing, and managing test data manually is laborious and extremely time-consuming. With data test automation, you can avoid all this, use reliable test data for the testing, and easily identify bugs that users might face later on.

Test Data Automation Drivers

Automating test data is not just popular because it decreases manual effort and time for testers. There are a couple of drivers that influence the way test data automation works in the industry.

Making Data Available

Generating, processing, managing, and accessing test data is a lengthy process that requires involvement of nearly 3 to 4 individuals. Developers and testers request access to test data, and data analysts/administrators have to manage those data sets. Evidently, all these people need to stay on top of the project progress with fresh data when the demand comes.

Automating test data reduces manual dependency on all of these professionals. It further improves the accuracy of managing such critical data sets without delaying the process if any of the involved parties is not available at the moment.

Data Provisioning

In handling test data and using it correctly, one of the major issues is giving access control to development and QA. Data provisioning ensures that the right data is available in the right format and at the right time to support different business processes and activities. Such an approach would automatically remove multiple layers of requests and messaging between teams and members, boosting the testing process in terms of time and efficiency.

When to Perform Test Data Automation?

It is clear that introducing test data automation into your testing strategy can significantly boost efficiency and accuracy. Here are all the times you should perform test data automation:

  • Make the most of test data automation when you are laying down the groundwork for your testing process to ensure that data provisioning aligns seamlessly with your testing processes and minimizes disruptions. 
  • Kick-starting test data automation before crafting extensive test scripts paves the way for smoother test case creation. 
  • Incorporate test data automation as data complexity increases to provide results, effectively managing intricate data requirements.

Steps to Automate Test Data

Test data is important. Test automation is equally important. Next comes the procedure to automate test data. Here’s an easy flow you can follow:

Step 1: Extract

Identify all the data sources required for your testing needs and integrate your automation tool with those sources. Connecting with all the original source data helps to synchronize data collection and extraction. 

Step 2: Manage

The next step is to properly handle the data you are extracting for your work purpose. It consists of integrating, masking, transforming, subsetting, and generating test datasets using the right test data management tools.

Step 3: Provision

The final stage is to efficiently provision the data to the respective testing environments using the same tools as and when the requirements for the data arise. And because you are not requesting data directly from the source, there are no instances of downtime recorded of data sources.

Key Technology Challenges of Test Data Automation

Following the three steps to drive your test data automation is helpful but not entirely efficient. There are certain factors that impact the automation test data scenario that you need to look out for:

  • Usually, companies run a data extraction process once a month or so, i.e., they take the data out from the sources for their work. But in such cases, data becomes old or irrelevant, which then affects the testing quality. Using smart synchronization techniques or regularly fishing out stale data can help in this case.
  • Data masking is a critical part of the data management process that safeguards customer and business information. Most of the time, companies do not focus on data masking before saving data in their system. You can use in-flight data masking tools to mask and send data to the required system.
  • Data provisioning becomes a hectic task when a variety of data is coming from different sources. This challenge calls for weeding out the instances when complex data is needed for testing and addressing the situation accordingly.
  • It can be challenging to integrate test data automation with the existing testing tools, frameworks, and automation scripts. Selecting tools that support test data management and testing processes is the right way to go here.

Tools for Test Data Automation

  • Testsigma: It is a cloud-based test automation platform that supports data-driven testing, integrated data sources, and dynamic data generation. The tool helps manage reusable test data sets and facilitates collaboration, enabling efficient and streamlined test data management for your automated testing processes.

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  • Tricentis Tosca: It offers data provisioning and synthetic data generation capabilities to create realistic test data, integrate with various testing frameworks, and manage data privacy and compliance.
  • Informatica Test Data Management: Informatica TDM provides data masking, subsetting, and data generation features. It ensures secure and compliant test data provisioning across different environments.
  • GenRocket: GenRocket is a test data generation tool specializing in allowing users to model and generate data for various testing scenarios.
  • Delphix: This tool offers data virtualization and masking capabilities to create lightweight, on-demand test data subsets while safeguarding sensitive information.

How to Perform Use Test Data While Automating Tests with Testsigma?

Suppose you have a login page to test using multiple username and password entries. You can use Testsigma to create these test data directly within the tool and pull the same in your test scripts.

Let’s start with developing test data. Log into your Testsigma account and navigate to Create Test Data Profile, as shown in the below image.

Test data profile

Now, give your data profile a Name and enter names for the data set you want to create. We have given two data sets here: Valid and Invalid. 

Then, fill in the names of columns that will show the set of values that each data set will have. You can add more columns by clicking on the + button on the top right. Click on Create. It is shown in the image below.

test data profile creation

Your data set is created and available for use in the test cases.

But before adding the data to your test script, you need to associate a test data profile to the test case. To do that, head over to the Edit Test Case option and select the choice of your test data under the Test Data Profile dropdown. Here we have selected the test data we created.

Test cases

Next, you can add the data to the test step by right-clicking on the step using the @|Parameter| option in the dropdown.

Test steps

Selecting the above option will display the below page, where you can see the test data associated with this particular test case.

Test data

You can further enable the Data-driven testing toggle button. Once you have done that in your testing, you can narrow and customize the various data sets from your test data profile that are being used in your test case using the filters iteration, parameter, and set name. Follow this tutorial to know more.

Besides this, Testsigma is a full-fledged test automation platform that provides data-driven testing options along with importing test data from external sources and updating them as per the need.

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Wrapping Up!

Testers require test data at every point in the testing process. To fulfill this need, businesses focus on generating and handling data, a task that demands time from many people. And if anything goes awry in the middle of this work, testers have to wait for the fresh set of data to become available to them. Quite frankly, the entire process is lengthy and time-consuming.

With test data automation, you can avoid all such problems and make relevant data accessible to testers when they need it and where they need it. All you have to do is select a test data management tool that supports your testing requirements.

After you followed through with this complete post, you could easily understand the significance of test data and how you can make the best use of it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of test data automation?

An example of test data automation would be to create and gather the necessary data to check an e-commerce website. Test data automation entails the automatic creation of a range of user profiles encompassing various demographic details, interests, and purchasing behaviors.

What are the benefits of test data automation?

Test data automation accelerates testing cycles by swiftly generating diverse data scenarios, enhances test coverage for various use cases, ensures data accuracy for reliable results, and reduces manual effort, boosting overall testing efficiency.

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