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Test data management is simply the creation of non-production test data sets that accurately simulate organization's actual data set so that various software and systems developers are able to run more valid and rigorous tests on the underlying data. It is also known as the execution environment. This data is used primarily for QA or Quality Assurance purposes, in order to gain a thorough understanding of how an organization's software and hardware functions in real world conditions. The quality of test data greatly matters. Without it, testing becomes a hit and miss affair with very little chance of finding issues early on in the testing process.

This type of software is becoming increasingly used by both large and small companies as a means of better managing test data management and overall test automation efforts. While test data management has existed for some time, its usefulness has become more clear as the need for more accurate test data has increased. Organizations now requires testing management software to ensure their software is functional in all circumstances - both under normal and abnormal conditions.

Defining test data management also involves defining the test case, or rather, what constitutes a test case. In most cases, test data management software is provided with a number of predefined test cases that allow for easy management. Some software also offers plug-ins that can be used directly within the Plutora database. Plug-ins can provide organizations test data management needs with defined steps, and in fact, it is quite common to have these added steps preformed within the development platform itself.

The creation of test data management also involves defining test data. The test data typically consists of one or more arbitrary expressions that are being evaluated against an arbitrary database. These expressions are created so that they may be compared against any number of records, one per test instance. This data may be used to assist manual analysis, or can also be used during manual code re-writes to assist in maintaining the consistency of the underlying database.

Defining test data management also involves defining test execution strategies. The test execution strategy(s) are strategies that aid in the execution of a particular test. Some strategies could involve the use of isolated components; others could involve use of multiple isolated components, and still others could be used on a continuous basis. The amount of control over test execution often depends upon the level of experience of the testers. The developers of the test management tooling often provide the testers with guidance in determining the appropriate implementation strategy.

When defining test data management, a very important factor to consider is the identification of sources of uncontrolled inputs. Testing is traditionally done by only allowing the testers to test one input at a time. This was seen as a limitation that prevented a significant amount of optimization. With the advent of better test automation frameworks and simplified monitoring tools, testing now takes into account an unlimited number of inputs to be tested. In some cases, this has resulted in increased test complexity, as well as premature termination of certain tests due to increased risk of failing tests.

Another major concern for test data management comes from the activities of the test data management tools themselves. Tools that are used for this purpose have been designed to allow for easy creation and maintenance of test data. However, tools have not been designed to allow for easy access of sensitive data.

The definition of test data management will necessarily take into account the level of test management expertise of the testers. Test management tools that are able to allow for easy creation and maintenance of test data are those that have been designed by experienced test management professionals. These tools can greatly increase the efficiency of the overall test management process and will greatly contribute to the successful completion of any software development project.