The Real Value of Shifting Your Testing Left
When you think about shift-left testing, higher quality comes to mind. Integrating testing earlier in the process, squashing bugs before they become features, having your teams work more closely together with the hopes of releasing a better product—it’s a concept that’s all about the pros and very little about the cons.
It’s not exactly a revolutionary, new concept, but people in the industry seem to be talking about it now more than ever. Why? Michael Nauman, a testing lead for AutoCAD Web, recently spoke to StickyMinds about why shifting left is on the tips of everyone’s tongues.
“I think it is the ever-evolving nature of the tech industry and the rise of cloud and mobile. The software development lifecycle is measured in hours or minutes these days as compared to months or years a decade ago,” he explains during his interview. “Test-driven development and extreme programming seek to increase the efficiency of engineering teams while the Lean startup does the same for product teams. Shifting testing left only makes sense with the natural selection that exists in the tech industry today.”
But when you take a quick, general look at what shifting left means, you might wonder how it makes things faster. Testers are testing earlier and more often, so that means more work throughout the entire project lifecycle. Shouldn’t that slow things down? If you’re writing an article, isn’t it faster to put all your words on paper and worry about the quality later, rather than editing as you go?
To Nauman, the main benefit of doing all this testing early is clear—you can catch things just as they’re starting to become nuisances and before they become major, time-consuming problems later on.
“The later you find defects in the software development lifecycle, the more expensive and risky they are to fix. By shifting testing left, the defects are found either in the design process or on the engineer’s computer, which aligns with test-driven development,” Nauman continues. “Testing early and often gives you confidence by reducing risk and uncertainty as your project scales in terms of functionality and consumers.”
Moving back to the writing example, you can likely hit a deadline earlier if you do a quick edit at the end rather than multiple passes throughout. But if you make a mental mistake earlier on and leave it there as you build your piece around it, adjusting the final product might actually force you to start from scratch.
You can’t build a product on a shoddy foundation. By shifting left, you can fortify your software and avoid building something that could very well topple over.