In the traditional software development model, requirements fall on the left side of the plan, and testing requirements are on the right side – after most of the work is already finished. This approach leads to several negative outcomes for the business such as last-minute unexpected errors, expensive defects, increased costs, missed deadlines, and unhappy customers.

As per Pulitzer Prize-winning author and IT consultant James Martin, 6% of all software defects emerge during the requirement phase, 27% in the design phase, and only 7% during the development phase.

If the testing phase moves to “shift left” defects can be detected earlier in the development lifecycle. And, this enables your team to focus on quality right off the bat, from day one. According to the   World Quality Report shows, quality unlocks business outcomes.

Why Need to Shift?

        “Better to start early than finish late”

In this model, early testing is one of the principles in the software development life cycle (SDLC). This new-school idea advocates for moving the testing process early in the development cycle, to prevent errors rather than detecting them later. This implies that developers are being incorporated into the testing cycle earlier than ever before.

Traditional waterfall model follows as below:

  1. ‘Planning’, where requirements are captured, and requirements are assessed
  2. Requirements get freeze and analysis starts
  3. Actual implementation (coding) starts after designing
  4. Testing stage, where testing practically begins

Sometimes the project gets delayed and there are stringent deadlines for its delivery. Due to strict timelines and the lack of flexibility, it leads to a negative impact on the testing and quality of the software/application. It then becomes a gargantuan challenge for the testing team to deliver “Quality” application on time.

However, it’s a repeated phenomenon across many organizations that are yet to adopt this new agile approach to software testing. The projects which are phased and gated often land up in continual trouble with poor quality and dragged down with high costs by technical debt.

What is Shift Left Approach and Why it’s Important?

Shift Left is a hot buzzword in software testing. This approach involves the tester right from the inception of the software development process. Shift left creates a culture to involve the testers early in the SDLC. This would help to start testing activities early for reducing the risks and ensuring a smooth delivery.

Shift Left Testing

We started slicing features down into manageable chunks. The entire delivery team started working closely with customers to understand what they wanted and deliver incrementally and iteratively. We started learning a lot of ways to build quality into our products as we embraced Agile practices and principles.

The agile approach helps in progressive planning and development for continuous enhancement on keeping a swift and flexible approach towards change. This helps in managing defects much in advance. It also offers a holistic approach to the overall software development process. ‘Start Early Testing’ works as wonder as it soaks in feedback from inception and keeps the quality benchmarks high.

 Shifting to Left in the modern software development process is an immense loop of developing the number of features, testing for and fixing the bugs. Aligning testing activities with development activities/processes helps to address bugs and gives utmost importance to the quality aspect and deliver the quality product.

Shift Left enables the teams to:

  • Test early
  • Test often
  • Test faster
  • Automate

“Test Early, Test Often, Test in Production”

How to make a Shift happen?

Below are the key principles to consider while enabling the Shift-left strategy:

a)   Pair with Developers

This is a strategy of involving testing as early as possible in the development process. This enables both testers and development with diverse skill sets to unanimously focus on quality from the day one of the projects, instead of uncovering defects later in the development lifecycle. This results in:

  • More collaboration and brainstorming on the requirements with the team.
  • Discuss the test scenarios with teams so that unknowns and risks can be found in the early cycle.
  • Here Dev and QA will have the same understanding of the requirements.
  • Makes both Development and testing team have shared responsibility

b)    Automate the Test Cases

Test Automation scenario is important to create reusable, maintainable code and can be used by the development team to perform Unit testing.

 Time to Improve Your Process and Product with Shift left testing

Shift Left Testing concept is a huge transformation of the testing concept by making the tester involve right from the development process and the sole focus for testing is on defect detection and defect prevention. This makes the Shift Left Concept journey as “Early Defect Detection to Defect Prevention”.

Thus, Shift Left is a big leap in Software Industry by improving software quality, speed to market, and reduce time to market the software being released.

The roles of developers and testers are now starting to blur. And in this agile approach to software testing – the shifting left methodology – development and testing are now closer than ever. So, we recommend that you:

  • Layout the development and testing process side by side.
  • Automate tests and run them too often
  • Automate deployment of new builds.

So if you’re planning to adopt this new age testing approach in 2020, apply the above-recommended practices and make the transition smoother. The shift-left testing methodology would ensure you a robust and scalable software development model. Be an early bird and try this approach to save time, money, and headaches!

Pavan Kondala
Pavan Kondala
Sr. QA Engineer