Shift Left Testing Explained


Things have changed —- new protocols, new approaches, new strategies super changing companies and making them not only more combative but more efficient. Their products have a higher degree of quality than previously exhibited. Amongst those big new and radical models being implemented industry-wide, not only in software development but just above everywhere – in every market – is the Shift-left testing model. In this article, we’ll explain, in broad strokes, what it is, how it operates, and more importantly how it differs from the traditional approach to software testing.

What is the Traditional software testing approach?

Traditional Software testing is the process of evaluating a computer program to detect errors, and defects, and ensure that it meets its requirements. Software testing can be done manually or by using software tools. Normal software testing, the average traditional approach, the one that had been an industry standard since the early 60s, occurred late in a product’s lifecycle — weeks, sometimes even days, before the launch date. 

It was generally done in one of two ways or types. 

There are mainly two types of software testing: Black box and White box testing.

  • Black box testing is also known as functional testing which tests the functionality of the software without any knowledge about its internal structure or workings. 
  • White box testing is also known as structural testing which tests the internal structure or workings of the software.

What are the disadvantages of this method?

There were numerous disadvantages to their method. 

  • Cost: according to IBM testing for bugs, in late-stage development, cost a company 10x more than if said errors were caught earlier.
  • Redundancy: bugs are duplicated, and sometimes that duplication affects other aspects of the software’s lifecycle. This would often translate into a bug becoming a sort of cancer that would spread into other parts of the software’s mainframe.
  • Man hour: by catching glitches or errors at a late stage, developers not only had to work overtime – to fix the issue, but psychologically speaking it would also find them frustrated and emotionally drained. 

What’s the shift-left testing?

Shift left testing is a strategy that helps organizations to find and fix potential production issues before they happen. Shift left testing is a technique that has been used for decades by the manufacturing industry to identify any potential flaws in the production process before they happen. The shift left concept has now been applied to software development, to find problems in the early stages of development, before they become critical.

Shift-left protocol checks and prepares for software errors right from the get-go. Right from inception. The protocol demands that everything be tested often.

History of Shift-left testing 

The term was first “shift-left” is used to describe the process of shifting testing left in the software development process at the onset of the 21st century. The first usage of the term was in 2004 and it is believed to have been coined by James Bach. James along with some oil his colleagues worked under the maxim and motto of”test early and often” — that’s the core value of shift-left testing.

Shift-left testing is a shift in software testing where testers are involved in earlier stages of the development cycle, such as requirements analysis and design. This shift can be achieved by moving some or all of the test activities from post-release to pre-release. 

The benefits of shift-left testing are:

  • That it can reduce time spent on fixing bugs.
  • Increase time for developers for other tasks. 
  • Reduce overall costs. 

Shift left testing also helps companies avoid surprises during release, which can be expensive and lead to loss of reputation among customers.

Shift left testing is a type of testing that is done as early in the development cycle as possible. There are many benefits to shift-left testing. One of the most important ones is that it allows for better detection of bugs and errors in the software, which will make it easier to fix them.

The principles of shift left testing are:

  • Shift left to find bugs early in the development cycle
  • Shift left to find security vulnerabilities
  • Shift left to find performance problems

How does shift-left differ from traditional testing 

Shift-left testing is important, and differs from traditional testing because it helps to edit out the following types of risk accepted in late testing:

  • Coders and testers are normally less involved in the initial planning, this may result in insufficient tools being employed in testing.
  • Errors in requirements, framework, and general design remain undiscovered — translating to the significant effort being wasted in continuously implementing them.
  • Bug hunting becomes harder as more software is produced and integrated.
  • There is less time to patch bugs found by testing —- this increases the likelihood that they will be postponed and fixed through updates. This in turn creates a technical debt with users and consumers — one that can oftentimes grow too large.

How to get started with shifting left? 

Every company’s system and framework differs from the other. There is no blueprint on how to implement and properly assimilate a shift-left protocol over a traditional methodology. Nevertheless, here are some tips: 

In order to shift left testing, you need to start with the basics. The first thing you should do is to write a test plan and define what should be tested in that particular phase. You also need to identify the risks associated with your project.

Your test plan must include all of these elements:

-A list of all the tests to be performed

-The risks associated with each test

-The expected result for each test

-A list of items or features to be tested for each risk

-The expected result for each item or feature

This is just the first of many steps to incorporate a shift-felt, well, a paradigm shift. But is the effort worth it? According to most studies, incorporating a “test early and test often” outlook will not only help you save money, and valuable man-hours, but it will also allow you to create better products, with a higher level of care and quality.