Shift Left and Shift Right in Software Testing

Priscilla Salas Alvarado | February 24, 2022

 

What Does Shift Left Mean?

At first encounter, the term ‘shift left’ seems to refer to a thing’s physical location: such as taking an object in your hand and moving it towards the left. When it comes to software testing services, though, it refers to the practice of ‘testing early and test preparation.’ It alludes to shifting all tasks related to test execution to the left on a software’s development timeline. 

Test Timing: When Is It Best?

When providing software development services, how much the QA team should shift to the left will depend on many factors. However, what is important to emphasize is that ‘shift left testing’ ensures you not only perform tests at the end of the testing cycle; you also execute them in the early stages of a software’s development. The idea behind this concept is easy to see when taking a car’s manufacturing process as an example: small pieces and components are put to the test before they are assembled to create a vehicle.

The same applies to software development. For instance, you cannot test your graphical user interface (GUI) until you complete it. However, you can test your GUI’s design or wireframes to see if they perform as expected.

SHIFT LEFT SHIFT RIGHT ENG (1)

Shift to the Right: Definition

‘Shifting right’ implies moving quality assurance tasks to the right on a software’s development timeline. In other words, it means performing software testing at the very end of the development cycle. This is also known as testing in production, an approach that allows developers to discover new and unexpected scenarios that may have remained undetected in development environments. ‘Shift right testing’ aims to guarantee adequate behavior, performance, and availability during an application’s production. 

Does Shift Right Replace Shift Left?

No. Shifting right complements shifting left.

With shift left testing, the objective is to detect problems early. It implies the execution of quick and repetitive tests to discover possible risks throughout the critical phases of software design and development instead of waiting until the end of the cycle to test the software. This approach tries to avoid problems before they happen. 

On the other hand, shifting right involves monitoring users’ behavior, commercial metrics, performance and security metrics, and experimenting with deliberate failures (Chaos Engineering) to see how resistant the system is. 

Shift Left Testing Benefits

By shifting left, QA teams can identify possible obstacles and bottlenecks from the beginning of the development cycle when there is still room to make changes and improve the design. As a result, developers can tackle problems long before launch without giving in to the pressures of an imminent deadline. This has obvious benefits in terms of costs since issues identified early are cheaper to solve. 

Shift left automation testing also plays a crucial role in reducing human errors, increasing the testing scope, and letting testers focus on other more important tasks. 

Because there is a closer collaboration between teams when shifting left, it’s possible to implement white box testing. It is also easier to estimate efforts and plan resources. Debugging issues in production is often difficult; shifting left guarantees that problems are detected a lot earlier, when they are easier to fix and solve.

Key Takeaways

  • ‘Shift left testing’ ensures you not only perform tests at the end of the testing cycle; you also execute them in the early stages of a software’s development. 
  • ‘Shift right testing’ is also known as testing in production, an approach that allows developers to discover new and unexpected scenarios that may have remained undetected in development environments.
  • Shifting left guarantees that problems are detected a lot earlier, when they are easier to fix and solve. 
  • The shifting right model of testing complements shifting left, but one cannot replace the other or suffice alone.


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If you are looking for a software partner who will guarantee the excellence of your digital products by applying in-depth quality assurance testing solutions, Encora is your solution. Get in touch today!

 

 

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