The importance of Shift-Left and Shift-Right testing approaches

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Edwards Deming had it right when he said, “Quality is everyone’s responsibility”. 

Quality of a product or service is seldom by chance. It can only be achieved through detailed planning and careful execution. Despite the efforts put in, except for in an ideal scenario, there are still bound to be glitches. However, the thing about Quality Assurance (QA) is that it paves the way for higher efficiency and better performance through incessant testing. 

With the implementation of Agile and DevOps methods, there is a high collaboration among teams. Developers are involved within a testing cycle right from the early stages. Formerly, the process of testing happened at definite intervals and testers had to wait for the product to be completely built before they set out to find the bugs and glitches. Admittedly, more time than can be agreed upon was spent waiting for the code to come through to a tester’s lap. When it finally came, there was not sufficient time left to perform comprehensive testing, which would lead to bug-infested releases into production. With the drastic change in the role of a tester, the scope for QA has broadened by leaps and bounds. Be it a software-developer-in-test (SDET) or a QA engineer, as a member of a collaborative team, a modern day’s tester has a cadence similar to that of a software development engineer. 

An SDET or a QA engineer would be able to easily validate fields being coded in order to avoid data loss. The QA engineer would also be able to write some basic checks and test ideas for an application programming interface (API), all of which inherently improves the design. Having teams that test earlier in the application lifecycle helps the QA engineers feel far more at ease with tooling and technology. Being able to look through server processes, work with API tools, or just walk through code quickly with a bit of help, is rapidly becoming a desired (and a much-required) skill. 

When speaking of quality software based on the software development processes, there are two essential parameters (among a few others) one should consider: 

  • Shift-Left Testing: Where testing begins parallel to the development 
  • Shift-Right Testing: Where the horizon of testing is broadened after receiving feedback from the end-users 

Shift-Left Testing 

The examples that are given while stating the features of a product need to meet the product acceptance criteria, whereas the assumptions that are waiting to be validated need to meet the business acceptance criteria. In short, defining tests even before the features are completely built is the shift-left testing approach. Shift-left testing is key to delivering quality software at speed as it resolves the time constraints. 

In any organization, it can get quite challenging while deploying a new patch of an application. Rigorous testing needs to be conducted throughout the SDLC in the form of regression and functional testing to ensure that patch updates do not destabilize a system. When testing starts earlier in the cycle, teams are more focused on the quality and have a “let’s get the coding right the first time” outlook. This helps save tremendous amounts of time and reduces the number of iterations a software development team has to perform for a particular code. 

A few reasons to adopt the Shift-Left testing approach: 

  • Improved design: Through continuous Shift-Left testing and arduous brainstorming sessions, roadblock areas, bottlenecks, and possible performance failures are identified in advance. Even though these discoveries may lead to new design alternatives, they are improved versions of the original idea. 
  • Bugs are fixed earlyWhen we stop and think about how often organizational executives admitted that they “should have” dealt with the issue early on when it was identified, we realize the importance of Shift-Left testing. It gives more breathing room to tackle mistakes immediately after they are spotted, removing the, “let’s come back to this once we finish the critical stuff” approach (which seldom happens). 
  • Massive time and effort saved: When talking about the improvement of efficiency and increase in quality, it would be ironic (and impractical) to hope to achieve those objectives without saving our own time and effort. This is another compelling reason to shift your testing left. 

Shift-Right Testing 

While testing early in the application lifecycle is absolutely essential and highly recommended, it is not enough. Obtaining feedback continuously from users and taking a shift-right testing approach is equally significant. Some things are out of the test engineer’s purview. For instance, a server can have downtime. A live application, however, simply cannot afford such a failure. 

The performance and usability of an application are continuously monitored and accordingly modified. Even while gathering the requirements, a tester should be quite aware of how users would feel about the functionality of a particular application. The important thing to factor is covering more ground with the testing. Testing should have the right mix at the right time for a given business framework. Such an approach immediately helps engineers understand how the product or feature update was received by the intended users. 

few reasons to adopt the Shift-Right testing approach: 

  • Enhancing customer experience: Through shifting testing right, customer issues are effectively collected. Upon obtaining the feedback, the collection of issues is then translated into technical and business languages. This helps isolate each issue and improve it, thereby enhancing the overall customer experience. 
  • More scope for automation: Automation saves time, plain and simple. When patches and features are being built into an application, automating large parts and even the whole process saves precious time. User Interface (UI) automation, once the application is stable at a core-functional level, is crucial for testing with speed. Shifting testing to right enables you to do just that! 
  • High test coverage: A Shift-Right approach to testing empowers the test engineers to test more, test on-time and test late. That translates to lesser bugs (at a basic stage), better quality (at an elevated stage) and delighted customer experience ratio. 

A final word 

QA of software products, services, and various applications aims to achieve quality at every stage of the application lifecycle. As businesses transform digitally, testing approaches need to evolve. More testing, earlier testing, and broader testing, all contribute to a well-rounded product. Any business that hopes to survive must also care about the digital impression and connect it provides to its customers, even if it has a physical product. Ultimately, including testing as a process right from the get-go of the application lifecycle process and refining the test cases as per user feedback, both are not only desired but also essential for businesses to guarantee digital assurance.  

Being a global leader in the independent software testing and quality engineering services, Cigniti is a strong advocate of Quality Assurance and its implementation right from the early stages of the software lifecycle. We encourage customer feedback and believe in including such feedback in our broader testing approach. We take great measures to ensure that we are fully equipped with state-of-the-art services and have partnered with other experts that specialize in providing testing services. Talk to us.