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The Nightmare Before Go-Live: Can You Make the Correct Test Data Call?

The Nightmare Before Go-Live: Can You Make the Correct Test Data Call?

Dean Hanson

Your project has slipped. The board has committed to a go-live date but it's at risk. You face a make-or-break Test Data decision.

All company eyes are on this project. Management bonuses are dependent on implementation this quarter - that's a lot of angry bosses if things don't go as expected. On top of that, there’s a very tight window. If the solution doesn't deploy as planned, it will be pushed back at least 3 months. Costing millions.

You’ve heard the chatter amongst the users, most of them think it’ll fail regardless.

This needs to go well. If everything goes perfect from now on, you know it will be a success. It will allow the company to adapt, grow, move with the times, become a real player in the market.

Your project has slipped

The Calm Before the Storm

You’re through most of the pain. If everything goes well from here, you will go-live on time.

You’re just about to exit the integration testing phase. It’s been complicated, to say the least, with 3 separate systems, plus it started late. As always testing has been squeezed but you've used a risk-based approach and the regression suite is automated and ready to go.

You've covered off the highest risks. Everyone has accepted the handful of minor defects and now it's just about promoting through the environments. Or at least it should be.

The calm before the storm

An Uneasy Air in The Update Meeting

You're sat in the project update meeting; everyone is being friendly, chatting and settling down, but you get the sense that something isn't right.

You know that feeling, an impending doom. You’ve seen the looks between the Business Leads and The Delivery Team. You know something is coming, you just hope it’s something trivial.

Finally, one of the stream leads announces. “The key process doesn't work as the business needs it to.”. He looks straight at the Delivery Lead, “what are the options?”.

“The process will need to be reconfigured” he replies, almost immediately. Apparently, the delivery team has already started looking at options. It's only going to take a few days to sort out, but it has knock-on effects that threaten the already risky delivery date.

The project sponsor is on speakerphone. He has a seat on the exec board and the ear of the CEO. Although remote, everyone in the room knows he’s there. Choosing this moment to make his only contribution, he speaks. Insisting, in no uncertain terms, “The project must go-live on the due date, and we need that functionality”. The message couldn’t have been any clearer.

You look around the room. Any feeling of calm has disappeared. Everyone is getting agitated. It feels like things are starting to fall apart. This is not what you expected when you got up this morning.

Trying to regain control, you look over to the Testers, “What’s the impact?”

The Test Manager looks at you. In a disturbingly calm voice, she issues the somber notice, “The change invalidates all the integration testing.”

It hits you like a freight train. The project is going to fail, it can’t take another delay. There’s just no time.

An uneasy air in the update meeting

A Ray of Hope in the Darkness

The room has descended into heated chatter. But the test manager has had her head down, busily making notes.

She pulls up an excel spreadsheet. “If we work evenings and weekends for the next 2 weeks, with our focus on risk-based testing, we can get through the integration testing. We can be ready to go by the time the change is made.”

Somehow, her face, her tone doesn’t match the positive message. A second, maybe two go by. You’re waiting for it, and then it comes…

“But we’ve used all the test data, it’s chewed up and corrupted. We need a complete data refresh.”

All eyes turn to the Lead DBA.

A ray of hope in the darkness

The Moment of Truth – What’s Your Test Data Strategy?

And now it’s over to you, dear reader. How will the Data team reply? The fate of the project, your own future hangs in the balance. A straightforward choice between two very different paths:

  1. No chance! It will take us a fortnight to get the test data in place. We can't just copy from live, it needs to be obfuscated. We can't just scramble one set of data. There's referential integrity between 3 disparate systems. We're already stretched. Half my team are working on the digital updates, we don’t have the resource for this. Go to Outcome A
  2. No problem. We'll just use the automated Qualibrate Solution. Test data can be ready this afternoon, just let me know and I’ll run it over lunch. Go to Outcome B
The moment of truth


The project never did see the light of day. The go-live date was missed, the project was pushed back 3 months. After that initial delay, it just lost momentum.

The SMEs went back to their day jobs. The user community heard about the issues and the whole project became ‘I told you so’.

The board got nervous about the risk and just backed out completely.

You left the company not long after.

The end.  

Outcome A


You ran the integration tests and caught a critical defect. It was a quick fix, but it would have been a major embarrassment. Instead it was a great success, an example of how a team should work.

The automated regression pack executed smoothly. The project was implemented on time. 3 months later the board held a celebration night, the project team were stars of the show.

Even the Users were happy. “I always thought it would work”, they say.

You have a quiet laugh to yourself; you’ve earned it.

The end.  

Outcome B

The Qualibrate SAP Test Data Solution

Choose success for you and your business.

The Qualibrate test data management solution has been jointly developed with Qlik Gold Client, the #1 SAP test data management provider.

Forget the tedious mess, the complex and clunky test data solutions you’ve seen before. The Qualibrate Test Data Management approach is straightforward, powerful and removes headaches.

Enjoy your project celebration, you’ve earned it.

The nightmare before go live - journey map

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