Rethinking How to System Test Your BI Project, Part 4: Build Initial and Incremental Data Sets

By Steve Knutson
 

Many BI efforts focus on testing the initial data load. Only the initial data load. We know BI solutions can behave differently depending on the presence or absence of data in the target. Incremental testing recognizes these varied load conditions.

Are you willing to risk defects after just a couple of incremental production runs? Skip incremental data testing and operations may stop soon after deployment to production. How will your team react to that news? What about the end user community?

The test team must make sure that the functional canary data sets include data suited to incremental testing. The test sets needs the right data to act against an empty target and a target that already contains data. System test runs will include a one-two punch consisting of an initial test run followed immediately by an incremental test run.

The best practice is to execute incremental test runs using functional canary and large data sets selected to test multiple target conditions.

The last three blogs answered the question – “What records do we use for system testing?” Functional canary data sets to vet the rules and logic. Large data sets to prove out volume and build user confidence. Incremental data sets to validate the code under working conditions. These data sets collectively demonstrate the determination of your BI team to find problems before the business finds them during UAT. Support the efficacy of your team – and your job – by using all three types of testing.

My upcoming blogs will answer the questions – “How and when is system testing done using these carefully crafted data sets?” I’ll focus on the process of running system testing, system test automation, and timing system test setup and execution as part of the development lifecycle.

– Jim Van de Water contributed to this blog.
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