The advantages and challenges of shift-left testing (and how to incorporate it into your development process)

The advantages and challenges of shift-left testing (and how to incorporate it into your development process)

Shift-left testing is not a new idea. It has been around in some form or another for as long as I have been in the business, which is for decades. So, why has it not been implemented? The reason is simply because it is difficult to get right. On some level, it goes against our natural inclination to get stuff done, write more code, close more stories, and release more apps.

The goal of shift-left testing is to identify and resolve defects earlier in the development process, which can save time and money, improve the quality of the software, and increase customer satisfaction. Shift-left testing has significant drawbacks, though, and Quality Assurance (QA) Analysts must adhere to specific processes to successfully integrate it into their workflow.

Advantages of shift-left testing

Shift-left testing has many advantages, including:

  • Defects can be found and fixed more rapidly when testing is introduced earlier in the development process. This lowers the time and money needed for rework.
  • When early testing methods or tools are used to detect flaws, the overall quality of the software is improved by preventing their integration.
  • Shift-left testing calls for closer collaboration among team members, which improves communication, speeds up feedback loops, and streamlines the development process.
  • Early defect detection and repair lowers the expense of rework and stops faults from entering production, which can be expensive to correct.

Challenges of shift-left testing

Although shift-left testing has several advantages, there are also certain difficulties that must be overcome, including:

  • Lack of knowledge: Many developers do not have the essential testing knowledge, which makes their testing less efficient.
  • Resistance to change: Including testing earlier in the development process is a big adjustment for some teams, and it might call for a change in the organisation's culture.
  • Limited tool support: Implementing early testing may be more challenging because some testing tools may not support it.

How to implement a shift-left testing approach

The development team must follow a specific process to successfully integrate shift-left testing into QA:

  • Create a culture of cooperation: The success of shift-left testing depends on the cooperation of the development and QA teams. To create a culture of testing and quality throughout the development process, QA analysts need more collaboration with developers.
  • Clarify testing objectives: Clearly define testing objectives for each stage of the development process. This will make it easier to guarantee that testing is carried out successfully and effectively.
  • Define the testing procedures: Specify the procedures for testing at each stage of the development process, along with the tools and methods that will be applied.
  • Choose testing tools that assist with early testing and offer the required capability to test the software properly.
  • Create test cases for each stage of development, including user acceptance testing, non-functional testing, and functional testing.

In my opinion, these last two points are the crux of the problem. Selecting tools and new test methods that are appropriate for your development lifecycle are the most difficult and important choices to make. For example, tools and test methods needed for the development of a web app game will differ significantly from those needed for a safety-critical system. The skill here is to, as always, identify the most effective changes you can make. Questions to ask include: What is the nature of the defects you are missing? Are they custom UI related, are they API problems? The answer to these questions should give you an indication of the areas you need to focus on.

Agile development is used as an example of shift-left testing. However, this is achieved by breaking the “waterfall” into a run of “rapids”, which obviously does not solve the problem of shift-left at all. Effective shift-left involves actual testing further up the software development lifecycle. For example, automated testing such as unit tests and build verification tests for check-ins and static code analysis tools. The former, I believe, requires cooperation between developers and QA to leverage QA expertise that helps developers create effective automated tests. The latter, while having limited effectiveness, can improve aspects such as code quality that make root cause analysis and defect fixing more efficient.

All this can only be achieved with the agreement of development, product design, and project management that adhering to different methods, standards, and definitions of completeness will ultimately improve the software development process.

Are you ready to take the quality of your custom app development project to the next level with well thought-out, holistic testing that benefits your product and consumers? Then contact Atimi, a native app development company in Vancouver, today.

Find out how we can work together to bring your ideas to life.

Find out how we can work together to bring your ideas to life.

Thank you for contacting us