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Shift Left Testing

How Shift Left Affects Application Development & Testing Organizational Structures

In the world of software development, shift left, as the name indicates, refers to the practice of performing certain activities early in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), compared to earlier. The philosophy, practice, and concept of "shift left" forms the most critical component for a successful implementation of the DevOps initiatives. The shift left strategy helps organizations adopt and adapt to the processes of continuous integration and continuous deployment.Shift-Left-and-its-Importance-for-Organizations.jpg

In the world of testing, "shift left" implies the incorporation of testing activities from the initial stages rather than performing them later. While in a traditional testing environment testing is performed only after the development process is over, implementing shift left testing helps organizations detect and prevent errors early on in the development cycle, rather than later. In essence, shift left helps moves testing closer to the build process so that applications may be proactively tested for uncovering any defects. This leads to faster remediation, which further leads to a lot of savings – cost, time, and efforts.

Shift left testing allows enterprises to increase the frequency of application releases – some of them being hourly too. Faster go-to-market is almost a prerequisite today for the robust growth of organizations and for helping them stay ahead of the competition. An improper implementation of ‘shift left’ testing may however lead to defect slippages into multiple phases such as development and the production phases. This may  have a harmful impact on the entire SDLC.

Shift left testing provides effective means to perform testing in parallel to development processes, enabling faster, better and quality applications and enhancing collaboration between developments, operation, and testing team. Implemented in a robust, well-defined manner, shift left testing can help control expenses and risks of application failure. This inevitably reduces rework and helps organizations become more productive and competitive by up to 10 times.

Role of Shift Left in Application Development & Testing

Over the last decade, software development has seen and undergone a quantum change from the traditional waterfall model having distinct development phases to a much more flexible and dynamic agile framework.

Organizations, more specifically those involved in software development, need to adopt an approach that can give them the edge over their competitors in terms of faster go-to-market and quicker ROI. Shift left helps organizations accelerate the software development process as also drive Digital Transformation.

Larry Smith said, “Bugs are cheap when caught young.”

Shift left testing helps detect errors early on in the cycle. Performing testing with every build makes bugs cheaper to fix and reduces the time and effort otherwise required for re-doing the things again.

Here are some reasons that explain how ‘shift left’ testing helps organizations reap benefits

  1. Begin with creating Test Cases & Framework

    It’s very important to create frameworks and test cases that cover the multiple functional and operational processes before an organization tries to seamlessly implement the Shift Left testing practices. This helps with alleviating conflicts when deploying applications directly from construction phase were test cases and framework are already validated as per functional and operational process, this also helps in reducing the number of test cases to be created in the future and also speeds up the SDLC.

  1. Define a process for Continuous Feedback
    Defining a continuous feedback mechanism helps testers provide continuous inputs to developers while the product is being developed. This is a key factor in for the continuous improvement of the quality of the product leading to a greater acceptance in the market.
  2. Define Controls and Quality Standards for SDLC
    Defining controls and quality standards for all the stages of SDLC helps determine if the development process is properly aligned with QA, apart from identifying deviations from the expected outcome. This further leads to taking the corrective actions at the right stage in SDLC and adds to the overall health of the project.
  3. Encourage Testers to Shift Left – Learn to Code
    Testers today need to engage in coding as testing in sprints requires a deep knowledge of the code that may assist in performing a deeper analysis of the defects. Also, coding proves helpful in making minor modifications as required in the code, thereby ending the dependency on developers, which saves a lot of time.
  4. Engage in Test Automation
    In order to avail maximum benefits shift left testing can provide, enterprises must adopt test automation. This helps testers and developers automate the build process so that they can perform tests across all the stages of SDLC, thereby infusing a robust and seamless integration between the various processes, increase the confidence in the product with every release, thereby boosting continuous delivery.
  5. Frequent Audit & Inspection
    Frequent performing formal audits and inspection is a must for the success of shift left testing implementation. Auditing critical codes and tasks, and inspecting the various stages of SDLC ensure a robust, healthy application. Conducting frequent reviews and audits helps organizations save a lot of time otherwise spent in testing that can be used for focusing on other critical tasks.
  6. Identify the best Plan for the Testing Lifecycle
    Enterprises must understand and define the best plan for testing a product during its lifecycle even before the development really starts. This helps testers and developers understand the objectives and the expected outcomes of the tasks being performed. One way of doing this is by identifying testing requirements right from project planning and requirements specification phase.
  7. Induce Developers to think and code keeping in mind the Testability
    Not just the testers need to learn to code – even the developers must start thinking about how and what needs to be tested. This will make them feel responsible for the quality of the product, as also help in creating a reliable testing framework. The best part is that it will bridge the gap between developers and testers, apart from speeding up the testing cycle. Moreover, developers would be aware of the solution right from the development phase.
  8. Integrate Testing with Development & Project Management
    Integrating shift left testing with project development, management, and operations help define and plan the stages at which testing must happen. This helps understand and analyze the expected effort and time required to perform the end-to-end testing and reduce any unrequired duplication of tasks while implementing shift left testing.
  9. Plan the Deployments
    It’s also advisable to plan departmental releases beforehand while boarding the shift left testing journey. This will help in understanding the possible delays as well as manage the resources required in each sprint to meet the predefined timeline. Planning departmental wise releases will also help the team to direct focus and manage the release cycles well.

Team members play a critical role in successful implementation of shift left philosophy. It is crucial for the team to play each other’s roles well, it’s everyone’s responsibility to deliver high-quality software with speed. 

CSS Corp and our Shift Left Philosophy

Shift left, a philosophy and practice that originated from the software development cycles, has today expanded to cover organizational areas including IT and operations. It has streamlined processes, thereby leading to an improvement in continuous feedback loops across multiple departments. This is having a very positive impact on the entire organization, fostering an environment of conducive growth for everyone.

CSS Corp’s robust shift left platform makes use of multiple software product delivery methodologies that helps deliver products that are bug-free, of high fidelity, and to which changes may be made quickly. Our services include consultation, readiness assessment, pilot framework, tool stack construction, and platform integration. With CSS Corp as your partner, you can go-to-market faster, identify defects in early stages, increase team productivity and efficiency, and develop highly secure and stable products.


Anil Mishra

AVP Strategic Alliances & Marketing

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