Shift-left testing for continuous delivery of quality and value at speed

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James Marcus Bach, Founder and CEO of Satisfice, Inc. and trainer and consultant, says, “Testing is the process of comparing the invisible to the ambiguous, so as to avoid the unthinkable happening to the anonymous.” 

The recently released World Quality Report paints a rather positive picture of the state of testing and QA. As the need for both Quality AND value at speed becomes imminentsoftware testing is gaining higher prominence for organizations trying to accelerate digital transformation. 

The report says, “Expectations of QA have been steadily increasing. There is an upward trend in almost every case for the objectives that include the need to support business growth and the importance of ensuring end-user satisfaction. Both of these indicate that QA is no longer seen as a backroom discipline, divorced from the rest of the organization. If you hear fewer soundbites about QA and more about digital transformation, it’s not because QA has ceased to be relevant, but because the contribution of QA is implicit in the success of the digital transformation. QA has been steadily evolving – from an independent function to an integrated function, and now to an inclusive function. Also, the role of QA practitioner is transforming from testing and finding defects, to ensuring that other engineering team members inculcate quality in their way of working. They need to do this by enabling them and by removing any impediments on their way to achieving quality objectives. QA is not only shifting left but also moving right. 

Objectives of QA and testing 

Major business stakeholders have identified the following objectives of Quality Assurance and Testing in their organization: 

  1. Business assurance: Contribute to business growth and business outcomes 
  2. Custodian of quality: Detect software defects before go-live 
  3. Digital happiness: Ensure end-user satisfaction and customer experience 
  4. Brand ambassador: Protect the corporate image and branding 
  5. Quality at speed: Speed up software releases with good quality 
  6. Automate: Make QA and testing a smarter automated process 
  7. Quality enablement: Support everybody in the team to achieve higher quality 

Although the findings of the report provide ample evidence about the increasing awareness surrounding the value of QA, the testing community still has a long way to go when it comes to implementing the practices at the ground level.  

Testing – Shift-left or Squish-right 

James defines testing as “the process of evaluating a product by learning about it through exploration and experiment”.  

Testing is an extensive and exhaustive process, which requires dedicated and committed individuals who can help stakeholders make the right decisions about a software product and its release. Given the demands for ‘Quality at speed’ and ‘Value at speed’, organizations have embraced a number of new technologies and methodologies. With the primary focus on ‘speed’, testing often has to suffer due to insufficient time and inadequate coverage. 

In recent years, to overcome these challenges, the concept of shifting QA and testing left has become popular. Shift Left testing recommends reversing the testing approach and involving system/software testing earlier in the lifecycle. Practically, it means moving the testing approach to the left end of the project timeline. This would provide more time to the testers to evaluate a code, improve test coverage, identify critical defects before release and prevent defect leakage into production, higher user satisfaction, and ultimately increase ROI. 

However, “programmers generally won’t stop coding to spend days developing and performing deep testing. What they mean by “testing” is relatively simple output checking. Deep testing may never happen in a shift-left regime, which then forces that work to the right — into the world of production and users. James Bach calls that “squish left and right,” which means that there is pressure not to allow testers to perform a competent test process. How do we resist this pressure? How do we sell testing?”, he asks. 

Finding the right answer 

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. 

Cigniti has invited James Bach to speak in our upcoming webinar on how to pitch testing at the right stage of your digital transformation to see comprehensive results. The session will help the attendees understand the impact of testing at various stages of digital transformation and how it can help safeguard customers, users, and brands from embarrassing technical issues. 

Register for the webinar and save your spot to listen to James’ insightful presentation live on Feb 17th, 2021. 

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.

Author

  • Cigniti is a Global Leader in Independent Quality Engineering & Software Testing Services with offices in US, UK, India, Australia, and Canada.

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