It is essential to start the test automation process, early on, with the Agile and DevOps methodologies demanding faster, frequent software product releases. If testing cannot keep up with these modern approaches to software development and delivery, the goal is not fully achieved.
Traditional testing models wait until the final stages of SDLC to begin Testing. Taking into account the demand for faster product releases, there will not be much time left to fix the bugs completely.
This indicates the importance of involving Testing earlier in the product development stages.
Introducing Shift Left
In Shift Left Testing, testers are involved at the initial stages of the development starting at the planning and discussion phase. Simply put, moving the testing phase towards the primary stages of the SDLC or shifting left of the Software Development Life Cycle.
Shift Left is imperative to Agile development and delivery needs. Shift Left testing and Test Automation are a great combination to meet the fast demands of Agile.
Test Driven Development (TDD), Behavior Driven Development (BDD) and API testing and services are examples of the shift left technique.
TDD approach allows for testing on the go without any initial ramp-up delay otherwise required.The BDD approach allows for better understanding of the requirements right from the start.
Shift Left Testing may be a part of the development process where not just testers but developers become testers or can be done in parallel with the development phase.
Here, tests are run continuously on small modules of the application that are just developed before testing larger integrated components at once. This enhances the quality of the software and reduces the chances of critical errors towards the end of the product development stage.
When to Shift Left?
Testing should actually begin as early as the requirements analysis phase to get a clear understanding of the requirements of the product. Identifying defects at the development phase as early as possible would make it less expensive and easy to fix as compared to finding and fixing them at a later stage.
Just like testing a microservices architecture, testing should be carried out in smaller modules of an application. This helps to identify a bug quickly and provide better test coverage.
Bug in any module can bring down the whole application. A defect left unnoticed at one stage can lead to serious repercussions later. Shift left testing ensures that a build is tested before passing it to the next stage. This is critical especially to ensure Continuous Delivery.
It is necessary to test different layers of the application including unit, integration, and APIs (not just UI) to identify the defects early on.
Also, the amount of rework would be less compared to fixing a bug until late in the delivery phase. The impacted areas of tests will be more and the cost to fix them will be more too.
Shift Left with Test Automation
With set programmed tests, the test automation process can repeatedly check for defects any number of times and provide actionable results.
Together, Test Automation with Shift-Left helps in reducing the chances of errors that can appear towards the final stages of the development cycle by detecting them early.
How it works:
With Shift Left there is better collaboration between Functional Testing, Automated Testing and Development teams. Proper communication across teams will help improve the quality of the product and reduce overall time.
Earlier, there had been a gap before which a product was completely developed and tested. Many requirements, design defects are not uncovered unless significant effort is wasted on implementation. Now, there’s no idle time as both developers and testers work together with one aim, ensuring Quality of the product at Speed.
As Continuous Testing has emerged to match the Agile and Continuous Delivery standards, one needs to perform test automation in a way that suits today’s complex application by using the Shift-Left approach.
What to expect
Shift Left Testing help testers provide insightful reviews and reports to the developers throughout the development phase and not once the product is completely developed and it is difficult and expensive to make changes.
Shift Left Testing helps in providing immediate feedback to developers to take action as soon as a bug is introduced. Thus attain a better quality of the product at speed at a reduced cost.
Why is it important?
- Bugs found early in the development cycle is easier to fix and verify
- Engage all your team members throughout the cycle
- Release faster by reducing the testing time towards the end of the cycle
- Reduce the gap between dev complete and test complete
- Better resource management
- Involve and engage everyone in the team
What to look for in Test Automation tools to implement Shift Left Testing:
Test Automation Tools play a major role in Shift Left testing. The tools must have the following capabilities to follow Shift Left Testing.
1. Less time and resources to get started
2. Integrations/In-built Test Management, Test Plan & Project Management to track the requirements in real time
3. Simplify the Test development approach making it easier and understandable for just anyone, making it possible to track and contribute to testing
4. Able to start the testing process right from design phase – Like BDD, TDD approaches. It should not depend on the application availability
5. Be able to test application components individually as and when they are ready (the Rest APIs, UI Components etc.)
6. Platform to collaborate and share the feedback and results immediately
7. Should’ve minimum programming knowledge requirement so that everyone can contribute
8. Flexible and dynamic test environments as per flexible testing requirements
These are some of the major aspects to look for in a Test Automation tool to implement Shift-Left testing. Depending on the development approach, the test automation tool may need to support more requirements.
Test Automation must be involved in the initial stages of SDLC. This will definitely improve the quality and time to deliver the software product. However, Test Automation itself is not enough. Test Automation needs to be extended to enable continuous testing along with the Shift Left approach to meet the modern delivery standards of today.
Shift Left Testing is being implemented by many companies.
Testsigma offers Test Automation through Continuous Testing with a Shift-left approach and integrates test automation scripts with tools like Jenkins. Shift Left Testing can help organizations improve the test automation process throughout the delivery lifecycle and this is exactly what Testsigma does!