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Ensuring Software Testing Data Integrity and Data Validity

Software testing, like most corporate functions, is highly dependent on maintaining accurate data.  This includes ensuring data integrity as well as data validity.  The difference is that the former is concerned with the accuracy of data while the latter is concerned with the completeness of said data.  The analysis and processing of these data points will only be as good as the quality of the data points themselves.  The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” is a good thing to keep in mind at all times. 

This begs the question, what exactly can be done to enhance the accuracy, consistency, and completeness of data used in software testing?  Well, there are a few things that can be done, not the least of which is Enterprise Data Quality Management or EDQM.  However, an enterprise-wide deployment of this nature is extremely difficult and time consuming, and as such is not a project that should be originating out of the software testing department. 

Instead, narrow your data quality enhancement efforts to those things over which you have some level of control.  For example, one thing you may be able to do is commission a training regimen focused on teaching software testers the ins and outs of data integrity and validity.  There are a lot of programs to choose from, such as the ISEB Foundation / ISTQB Foundation certification.  By making this important issue top-of-mind, it is reasonable to assume that the quality of data will improve over time. 

Another remedy would be to enhance the feedback loop between the various stakeholders, especially between developers and testers.  Many times data quality issues result from poor communication and a lack of understanding of the big picture, so improving the communication loop should help.  This can include tactics such as project kickoff meetings, weekly status updates, and intelligent use of email distribution lists. 

Finally, make enhancing the company knowledge base a top priority.  Make sure the knowledge base is easily accessible by, for example, putting it up on the corporate intranet.  Also, make sure the platform is easy and intuitive so employees can actually find the answers to their questions.  Finally, make sure the knowledge base is completely up to date, including the removal of any outdated information.

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