Shift Left Testing for Faster and Failure Resilient DevOps Deliveries

June 23, 2020

iauro Team

Principal Consultant Micro-Frontend & Microservices LinkedIn

When done right, automation can save time and improve product quality. To do it right, of course, requires consistent monitoring and analysis. DevOps automation strategies are also meant to speed up delivery. But, the testing discipline might need to change. Avoiding product vulnerabilities throughout the DevOps pipeline would help a lot with speed. It will also make the deliveries failure resilient. There exists a discipline that holds such attributes. It is fast, fail-safe, and can amend the defamed developer-tester relations. So, it will be helpful to discuss this discipline called Shift Left Testing. 

Bringing Dev and Test Together

Continuous Delivery is the ultimate automation goal that the companies employ DevOps for. Automating redundant tasks offers space for delivery teams to explore new learning opportunities. The current testing approach is undoubtedly automated. But the testing is not practically frequent enough to ensure uninterrupted deliveries. This is also where the developer-tester conflict arises. Automation would only be effective if developing and testing are collaborative activities.  Right now, they are consecutive steps. The Shift Left Testing is powered by continuous testing and deployment. It makes testing more transparent and persistent. This regulates the development to realize the business vision for the end product.

Shift Left Testing

To put it simply, shift left suggests prevention rather than detection. It pulls up testing from being “after” the development to “during it”. The test cycles shorten because test and dev are working together, and there are no funny surprises. Shift left channels the focus on reducing the failure rate instead of amending the failures. If done right, shift left can increase the delivery speed while ensuring fail-safe end products at the same time. Here, are some points that should be kept in mind for ensuring successful shift left:

  • Clearly define the testing scopes beforehand. This will ensure a smoother integration of continuous testing tools and practices.
  • Create awareness about shift left. The delivery teams, management etc. should be able to adapt its practices. The companies, as a whole, should be thoughtful about what works for them
  • Tools that fit well with the current business infrastructure, would make the evolution easier. DevOps itself is a discipline attained by gradual acceptance. Shift left too, should navigate through the same path. Some practices and tools cannot shift left immediately. Amendments will have to be made for them.

Benefits of Shift Left

Dignified testing helps the developers to understand and respect the testing process and work along with them. Shift left can bring transparency among delivery teams and speed up the continuous delivery pipelines. Here are some of its prime benefits:

  • Faster Deliveries. A consistent testing approach reduces the chances of later reworks. Development and testing proceed together, and the overall delivery time decreases.
  • Failure Resilience. Shift left keeps the development in lines with the business vision for the product. Any future changes too, are developed and tested there and then. Therefore, the product is more fail-safe.
  • Inter-team Collaboration. Shift Left testing requires the teams to work together. The developers and testers share combined knowledge to identify the redundant work in the SDLC map. This helps them set up  the tasks for automation. Thus, automation is deemed not as a replacement for current work culture, but a facilitator to it.
  • Incremental Development and Testing. Continuous testing minimizes the time between development and testing. The development is done in small increments so that the immediate testing can reveal and tend to any point of concern.
  • Quantifiable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Defining KPIs helps in analyzing the results and reports better. Shift left helps companies to set Quantifiable criteria for the developed increments and test results. This helps in extracting meaningful information for future projects as well. 

Conclusion
Testing is an essential part of the SDLC. Right testing practices can help companies to realize the full potential of DevOps Automation. Shift left is an accelerator to Continuous Delivery. Undoubtedly, speed and resilience are major necessities of current times.

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