Shift Left Quality

Shift Left is an approach that combines people, processes, tools and technology to enable ‘shifting’ of your quality life cycle earlier in the development.  You start testing as soon as you can by way of unit testing, integration testing and finding the defects early on the project timeline.  

The need for Shift Left

  • Bugs are expensive. Bugs found at the end of development cycle require a lot of rework, redesign and strategizing. Hence, they are expensive, time consuming and affect the budget and deadline of your release. If a critical defect is identified after all development is done, your software may not get released on time.
  • The realization that defects are less expensive and easier to fix when found early – marked the beginning of the Shift Left concept. But another important aspect of Shift Left testing is to also test continuously. “Test Early and Test Often”. 

Implementing Shift Left

  • One of the first principles of ‘Shift Left’ requires the testing team to collaborate with all the stakeholders early in the software development phase. So that they can understand requirements and design test cases to allow the software to ‘Fail Fast’. This, in turn, lets the team to fix all the failures at the earliest.
  • Testers play an important role here. Right from understanding the requirements, software design, architecture coding and functionality and above all asking the tough questions and seeking clarifications. The tester’s role is also to provide suggestions and feedback where possible to support the Shift Left paradigm.

Focus on agility and risk reduction

  • Shift Left helps in achieving agility and reducing risks – two important business requirements. By aligning with business goals from the very beginning, QA and dev teams help eliminate wasteful, disconnected testing processes.
  • Shift Left focuses on integration testing and moving it early, to test out the integration issues much earlier. Anyone who has struggled with “integrating” things together later in the cycle knows how difficult it is to fix the issues and architectural adjustments near go live. The DevOps way is the ideal for this to happen using automation and service virtualization.

Highlights of Shift Left

  • Focus on involving testers as equal stakeholders in all the stages of your program. This moves the needle from defect detection to defect prevention and drives the business goals.
  • The idea is not simply to ‘test the software and identify the bugs’ but proactively work with the team to plan and build a robust/effective test strategy right from the beginning. You have a long-term vision of the project and product instead of simply a testing responsibility.
  • Shift Left gives tester the opportunity to design the tests first. These tests are focused on customer experience and expectation, allowing developers to build the software based on these tests. This cycle is one of the ideal ways to meet customer needs and satisfaction.
  • Shared ownership is one of the key principles of Shift Left. Just as testers have an important role, developers take more ownership of the code and share the responsibility of quality and testing.
  • It encourages testers to adopt BDD and TDD practices as these are used to understand the requirements clearly without any doubts. BDD and TDD help developers to write their tests in such a way that makes the code execution successful. They allow testers to think of solutions with a bottom up approach, ultimately preventing defects in later stage and clarifying the ambiguities early on.
  • Shift Left approach encourages the formation of Agile Scrum teams that include testers by default in regular stand up calls and other interactions. This allows testers to gain better information and visibility and provide rapid feedback that helps in defect prevention.

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