Data, no matter big or small is essential to all QA processes. And all testers have to be great with different kinds of data they are working with for it is essential to overall project success. There is actually a nice way you may handle all relevant data we will be focusing on in this very article. It’s one of those best practices you can’t really call best however it has worked for me way too often, hence I will be sharing the approach with you guys.
- Consider you are Indi Jones when it comes to data. The entire analysis process has to be a pathway through a temple stuffed with traps and minor artifacts in search of the ultimate magical alien thingy that presents true value. You will have to go through all pointless discoveries to end up with one Arch. Surely the way fill be hard and filled with dangers however such an approach is the only way of making sure you are not missing any vital aspects, threats or opportunities.
- Pick up all you can on your way to your goal. The more data you have the better. But there is one thing here that is also important: the way you store your data. If it is mindlessly tossed all around you will not be gaining much from it. Any piece of data you have lost due the mess it was stored in may be priceless.
- Create your own pieces of data from information you are constantly receiving from management or stakeholders or even fellow testers. There is no such thing as too much data (go ask the guys from NSA).
- Have you heard of A/B tests? You can apply this method to your test data to gain some best quality testing materials. OR apply this vice versa by applying A/B tests to data you are going to deliver to make sure you are sharing the best possible outcome.
- Big data beats small data. Tiny clusters of information are incapable of delivering actual value when they may be compared to the larger picture. Such clusters may even misguide testers.
- Who should be responsible for overall data analysis? Probably just those people who are in charge of it now and rarely have time for something else. There are many types of data in testing from requirements to test logs and there are always people responsible for this or that part. Let it stay that way.
- Have a nice habit of spending a bit of your free time going through seemingly useless data. Sure it might be nothing but then again who knows what your team may have missed?
- Libraries are great for storing data. If over past few thousands of years we have not come up with better solutions perhaps its best to keep things just the way they are now? Surely there are various digital libraries now but are they really so different?
This little list should guide you through all aspects of your job that are related to data in this or that manner. Following it has really improved my testing sessions and perhaps this knowledge will eventually help you?
Image via Matt Groening