- Eric Schmidt, Google CEO
Data is the lifeblood of any organization. With it, companies can understand current issues, analyze trends, and determine actionable results to provide superior products to their customers. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems have done this for the business intelligence world for many years. In the test and production arena, R&D departments are realizing that proper test data management can be a competitive differentiator in getting high-quality products to market faster. There is an increased need for a data management strategy, and if handled incorrectly, they can make test data a big problem.
Today, companies have a “build vs. buy” decision when seeking software solutions to manage product quality data in R&D, Manufacturing, Supplier or other areas of the product’s life cycle. As product quality becomes more and more important to retain customers, reduce operational cost and ensure customer satisfaction, it is no longer a decision on “if we need test data management”, but instead on “how should we implement quality test data management”.
As with everything, there is no single “correct answer” to this “build vs. buy” question. In this Blog, we will explore the needs of test data management and how to handle it effectively with the help of IntraStage SPC Software.
Studies show that in most of the companies up to 60 percent of application development and testing time is devoted to data-related tasks. Reducing time spent on test data management is critical in controlling IT costs and keeping developers focused on the task at hand – developing new applications and managing existing ones. To design and build reliable applications today, however, entails a complex process involving a range of different and unfamiliar databases and file types. Often, developers and testing teams spend more time dealing with data-related issues than developing the actual application itself.
Companies are inundated with data, and most are starting to realize that gigabytes of test data exist on hard drives throughout their supply chain. This data exists in a hodge-podge of formats, making it extremely difficult to normalize into a single database. However, if this data were normalized, a number of macro-quality metrics would be possible, which could:
- Improve manufacturing yield
- Enable information visibility between functional groups such as R&D Manufacturing, etc to improve defect resolution times
- Optimize test times to move product through manufacturing faster
- Decrease warranty returns and recall events
Once a company has realized the positive financial impact that comes from better managing quality data, they often begin moving toward creating a normalized database and quality data management system. A common set of goals are:
- Select a system that can scale throughout the enterprise and supply chain
- Incorporate industry best practices
- Finance with a “phase gate” approach, where a low-cost pilot project is proven successful as a step toward enterprise rollout
- Deliver high value relative to TCO (total cost of ownership)
- Leverage your company’s specific expertise and personnel
To select a system that can scale, the two core problems are:
1). How to build a robust data model that will work for all legacy test data as well as all future test data and
2). How to cost-effectively retrieve product quality test data from so many different locations, including those outside the firewall.
The good news is that several companies, including IntraStage, now offer COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) solutions for both of these core problems. For instance, rather than spending NRE (non-recurring engineering) dollars to create and debug your own data model and retrieval process, you can purchase this technology at a fraction of the cost of inventing it in-house.
Another benefit of using COTS technology is that the solution will already incorporate industry best practices, resolving goal #2. Rather than spending time learning all of the best practices and coding them internally, you can evaluate competitive COTS products and see how the best practices are coded into the product.
While most internal teams will agree that the above list of goals is a great “pie-in-the-sky” set of tasks, they will admit to being mired in issues of maintaining the existing systems. Some common issues that need to be managed include:
- How to maintain the system if a key developer or IT person leaves?
- How to add new feature requests from Users?
- How can system uptime be guaranteed to 99.99%?
- How to manage new applications to access the data?
- How to efficiently scale the system to add new users, new products etc?
These are areas where IntraStage can help.
The IntraStage solution offers a core foundation technology, solving the issues of data model, data retrieval, and out-of-the-box reporting while allowing your company to plug-in custom software and solve your specific needs for reporting, visualizations, and process around the test data.
IntraStage is a Quality Test Data Management Software provider for companies who design and manufacture electronic products. We provide SPC, Yield, CP, CPK, and test data analytical tools by automating the retrieval, storage, mining and reporting of R&D, Manufacturing, Supplier and Field test data. Our clients choose us because we seamlessly integrate test data from different sources, lower their product design, manufacture and return costs by finding quality trends more quickly and accurately. IntraStage’s test data management software that saves time and reduces the level of complexity often associated with managing distributed data and preparing data for testing.
IntraStage test data management tool simplifies the complex task of managing test data. Equipped with an easy-to-use graphical interface, IntraStage allows developers and testing teams to perform all data-related tasks without writing programs or scripts, coding databases or using multiple utilities. IntraStage provides a standardized approach to managing data from multiple databases and file types, gives users the tools they need to effectively work with data and increases productivity, all without prerequisite training or expertise. IT organizations will immediately save time and reduce costs using IntraStage in their development and testing processes.
Fortune 1000 companies rely on IntraStage’s business intelligence to keep them competitive when product quality and customer satisfaction are key differentiators. IntraStage product offerings ranges from on-site audits all the way to enterprise-wide business intelligence solutions. We can work with your internal team to build a quality test data management system that solves today’s problems and scales into the future.
Contact IntraStage today to get a proposal for a pilot project in your test department.