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Shiftleft Competitors: The Race to Peak Efficiency 

More and more mobile apps enter the market every day. Competition in this space has never been more fierce. Beware the shiftleft competitors.

So what’s all this about shifting left and shiftleft competitors? You’ve probably heard a few phrases associated with testing early into the cycle (like test early, test often) but they can all be expressed by way of a famous quote from before industrialization: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This maxim, uttered by Benjamin Franklin in 1736 and based on earlier traditional sayings, still rings true centuries later and applies to technologies Franklin could never have dreamed about.

Shifting left is a great example. First introduced by Larry Smith in 2001, shift-left testing (or shiftleft testing) is a DevOps concept that describes a change in the QA-testing mindset.

Imagine a project timeline. It could be a graph in a presentation or a doodle on a whiteboard. Whatever it is, a timeline that didn’t move from past to future in left-to-right format would shock you. 

Shiftleft testing moves testing to the left side of the timeline — in other words, you perform your tests earlier in the development cycle. It’s easier to change the fundamentals while you can still change them without a complete architectural overhaul, right?

In most DevOps cases, easier means faster. And as you know, time is money. Let’s take a closer look at this important concept and what it means for you and your testing team.

The old model 

The traditional development cycle model has six stages: 

  1. Requirements 
  2. Feasibility study 
  3. Architecture design
  4. Software development
  5. Testing 
  6. Deployment 

It makes sense to save testing until the end of the project, as you can’t test something that isn’t there. However, parts of the software already exist. Consequently, with a shiftleft testing mindset, you design the architecture, build one function at a time, and test as you go.

Shiftleft competitors: Why is shiftleft so important?

Why does it matter if your team goes to the extra effort? Because a shiftleft testing approach has the potential to improve practically everything about the development and QA cycle. Here’s how.

Shiftleft lets you catch bugs early (and often)

When entrenched code has a problem, it can take your team hours, days, or even weeks to fix it. The bug itself might not present much of an issue, but a problem from the early development stages can have a ripple effect. 

With one change, everything else breaks down. Your developers may have fixed one bug, but they’ve spent valuable man-hours on it and will likely have to do so again. A shiftleft approach ensures that this situation never comes about.

Time is money 

Extra man-hours and resources to fix late-stage bugs add up fast.

It might cost four or five times more to fix a bug in the late-testing stage. Such unnecessary expenditures can cause your budget to take an enormous hit. The more complex the project, the more money you waste — unless you take a shiftleft approach. 

A shiftleft strategy also allows you to cut down on delays.

Game developers, for example, often run on tight deadlines and spend many of their working hours in crunch time. Video games have publicized and mass-anticipated release dates, but you never know what the testing phase might dig up.

To deal with unexpected issues, developers can either delay the game, which makes customers unhappy, or force more hours on their teams, which means lower morale, more mistakes, and a worse product at the end of the day.

If more developers tested continually throughout the development process, they might not have to make such a choice.

They say you can’t have all three — shifting left proves them wrong

Pick two of the following: time, cost, and quality.

In the production world, it’s axiomatic that you can’t have all three. However, a shiftleft approach makes it possible.

If you know you can save time (and therefore money) on each bug fix before release, your DevOps team will have the time they need to find more bugs and otherwise improve the final product. As a result, they can make customers happier with a program that works better on release than it would have in a traditional development cycle.

A depiction of multiple fish
There are no shortage of fish in the sea. Image: Sofy x YuliiaOsadcha, Shutterstock.

One size doesn’t fit all: The types of shiftleft testing 

Every program is different, so one type of shiftleft testing doesn’t fit everyone. That’s why the shiftleft competitors in today’s market occupy a niche rather than lose to a monopoly.

All four of the following testing schemes provide teams with a way to get involved early and compare their programs to architecture goals, executable requirements, or design modes. Shiftleft competitors generally fall somewhere within these four categories.

Traditional shiftleft 

We’ve already discussed the traditional shiftleft approach: move the testing process to the left in the timeline. Testing occupies a traditional role as a separate process in the development cycle and focuses on integration, unit, and API testing. 

At this point, most development teams use some form of traditional shiftleft testing in their development cycles. Some shiftleft competitors offer more efficient solutions and sprinkle tests throughout the development process. 

Incremental shiftleft 

Many modern projects have complicated timelines that require both parallel and subsequent development of individual components that come together as a whole when completed. Traditional shiftleft moves the entire testing process up the timeline. While effective, larger projects see diminished benefits from this approach. 

In incremental shiftleft, developers test individual sections and move back and forth across development timelines as needed. One part of the program may have just shipped, while another has a few final testing stages to undergo, and yet another still-in-development segment sees a traditional shiftleft within its own sphere. 

This approach adds the most value for large systems that integrate significant quantities of data or hardware. Because each component of a project can be considered a project on its own, the traditional shiftleft mindset has taken root in most large-scale projects already.

Agile/DevOps shiftleft testing 

The cooperative, collaborative, and efficient environment of the Agile/DevOps approach allows developers to translate the shiftleft approach to individual sprints. Much like the incremental strategy, Agile/DevOps shiftleft takes advantage of the divide-and-conquer approach to implement efficient testing during the project rather than at the end. 

Like coding itself, Agile/DevOps shiftleft testing enhances communication between members; a tester locates a bug and can share it with the entire team without meetings that burn time and money.

This continuous approach, in which you test everything everywhere, took the development world by storm and isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

Model-based shiftleft 

Model-based shiftleft moves code analysis from specifics to foundational fundamentals. It tests the executable requirements, underlying architecture, and design models expected to support the rest of the project, which is fitting, considering that 45%–65% of all bugs appear during the early design stage.

Model-based shiftleft takes the motivation of traditional shiftleft goes one step further.

The traditional model tests for bugs before the project is finished. By contrast, the model-based approach tests for bugs in the project’s basics.

Each method builds on the last, increasing efficiency and refining code development with each iteration.

Against the shiftleft competitors

The odds are good that your development teams already use a shiftleft approach. Even so, it would be wise to get everyone on the same page and implement procedures for a company-wide shiftleft initiative, preparing your team for taking on other so-called shiftleft competitors. The competition has already started, and as the tech industry moves faster and faster, it’s important to keep up.

To help with that, consider the following tools, all of which have been driving the shiftleft movement and can help you adopt the modern, decentralized approach to Agile/DevOps shiftleft development testing:

  • GitLab and GitHub: Household names with excellent collaboration and version-control tools
  • CircleCI: Continuously and automatically updates the codebase to enable faster bugfix implementation.
  • Atlassian Collaboration Product Suite: Trollo, Jira, Bitbucket — all are ways to assign tasks and communicate updates in real-time.

While there are plenty of options on the market, we recommend our no-code automation solutions for faster QA testing specifically designed to benefit agile teams.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the contributor and do not necessarily represent or reflect the official beliefs or positions of Sofy.