The Long and Winding Road of two Test Data Practitioners

Ola and Martin work as cross-team experts on testing in one of the largest contemporary IT projects in Norway: the Parental Benefit project at the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV). In this project, our partnership is creating a new software solution to help new parents and case officers process large amounts of applications for parental leave benefits. The project aims to automate large parts of the process using data from several sources.

With over a dozen integrations to registries that hold the information required to make automated decisions, and at the same time navigating complex laws and strict requirements for using synthetic test data, the testability of the project has been a large hurdle to overcome. Where should we begin? We both replied: je ne sais pas.

In this talk we’ll take you on a journey from distributed Excel spreadsheets to a web-based platform for retrieving, enriching and generating synthetic test data. Through building an online platform for test data and testability, we have made test data management and testing more enjoyable and readily available for both testers and developers.

The process has been iterative, and full of both pitfalls and successes. We have made several discoveries that have helped us make test data discovery, control and alteration possible. Through our journey we have created methods for handling test data in complex environments, as well as ways of operationalising testing in a complex value chain. The tool we’ve made has become the hub for testing in the project TestHub. In TestHub, we facilitate functionality to find test data, send input data to target systems, enrich and populate synthetic test data in interface systems and more.

In this presentation, we will share our experience about the problems and solutions we have encountered. We will present how we facilitate high autonomy for the testers through TestHub, how we tried to identify the big time thiefs related to test data and testing, and how we worked to reduce complexity and at the same time let the tester test complexity when needed.

In addition to the concrete experiences from our project, we will present broader rules of thumb that we have developed from our experience on how to approach test data management and testability when you too may say to yourself: je ne sais pas.

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      Ola Løvholm - Technical tester and software developer , Sopra Steria, Norway

      Ola Løvholm is an Oslo-based technical tester and software developer working in the test department of Sopra Steria. Through several large-scale and complex IT projects, he has worked with test data management and the development of tools and methodologies to facilitate easier testing. In addition, he has together with Martin led the Technical Testing group at Sopra Steria Scandinavia. For several years, Ola has had an interest in data, and before working more specifically with testing, he wrote a master thesis on open public data and worked with data analysis in research. In his spare time, he works with hobbyist coding projects and enjoys the recreational qualities of nature.

      Martin Sommervold has worked in software development, DevOps, technical test and test management for over a decade. He’s been a part of both small and large software development projects, and has gravitated towards building support systems for the development process. A big fan of hipster-driven development (new and shiny!) and can’t keep his fingers away from new technologies. Works with Ola at Sopra Steria, and is educated in the field of design, use and interaction. Likes dogs that are not his own. 

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