How Your Software Team Can Successfully Adopt a Shift-Left Approach
It’s hard to deny that with how software testing and development have advanced, older methodologies like waterfall just aren’t good enough to keep your team afloat. The speed and quality demands that weigh on modern software teams require new, innovative, and effective strategies in order to keep pace with competition and expectations.
"Shift left" is the latest philosophy teams are adopting to account for the fact that releases are happening on a daily basis, rather than a weekly or monthly basis. Shankar Konda, a practice lead for Banking and Financial Services at Tata Consultancy Services, spoke with StickyMinds about how if you don’t adhere to a shift-left mindset, your team will be left behind.
“Businesses today can no longer stay relevant and competitive with traditional testing lifecycles. Releases no longer take place every six months to one year. Now, we are talking about monthly releases, biweekly releases, and some releases and updates even scheduled on a daily basis,” Konda explained. “Hence conservative waterfall methodologies where testing is completed at the end of the lifecycle are no longer valid in today’s business context.”
The whole process needs to move faster, and the idea of testing early and often with shift left also puts an emphasis on maintaining a certain standard of quality during each and every testing phase.
Like agile and everything before it, though, there are steps that need to be taken and risks that need to be considered before you can properly shift testing left and reap all the intended benefits. First, it’s critical that teams interpret testing expectations earlier in the lifecycle so that everyone doing the work knows what their goals are. Without some vision, testing can become aimless.
Additionally, Konda suggests teams consider their culture and job roles in order to create a strong foundation for shifting left.
“The organization needs to focus on cultural change, clearer job role descriptions, investments in trainings, testing teams working closely with development teams to complete their tasks, process discipline, matrix discipline, and quality discipline,” Konda continued. “Some of the metrics that should be maintained are percentage automation covered during integration testing, number of defects detected and resolved during continuous integration testing, requirements stability index, test coverage completed prior to systems integration testing, etc.”
In order to shift left and continuously test throughout the entire lifecycle, the business, development, and testing teams need to be in sync. By establishing your roles, zeroing in on expectations, and understanding that quality is equally as important as speed, you can shift left without crashing into consistent hurdles.