The pressure to remain on top of software releases in a competitive digital industry is enormous. You can’t afford to stifle their progress.

In order to keep ahead of the competition, it’s critical for the engineering leader to stay on top of new developments. When a new technique appears out of nowhere and appears to be working for other teams, it’s natural for tech professionals to wonder if it will work for them as well.

As a result, the question on everyone’s lips in chat rooms around the world and at daily development team stand-ups appears to be, “Should we be employing the shift-left approach?” What about the right shift?

The transition to secure code has begun. However, there is no one-size-fits-all method. Here are some options for securing your software development lifecycle that your team might consider (SDLC).

The traditional approach

Developers have traditionally preferred the waterfall method. This technique, developed by Winston W. Royce in 1970, is rigid, linear, and sequential.

Requirements gathering, design, implementation, verification, and maintenance were the five steps of the software release process.

The major flaw in this approach is that testing is frequently viewed as an afterthought. The development team collaborates with the customer, creates designs, and builds the product. After that, testing takes place.

As a result, when the team is pressed for time and nearing the finish of a project, testing is crammed in. As a result, it’s seen as a bottleneck; it’s a difficult phrase to complete, and issues are bound to develop. Testing is rushed or performed too late in the SDLC to detect important defects in a timely manner.

When bugs are discovered, it feels as though you’ve gone back to square one. As a result, your product quality is suspect.

This is when the shift-left strategy comes into play.

What is shift-left?

Consider your SDLC in the form of a horizontal line. Consider where testing fits into the picture. Take testing and move it to the left along the line. Bring it closer to the start of the procedure.

That is what the term “shift-left” signifies.

Testing can be introduced at the start of your SDLC by shifting left. QA is involved in the requirements gathering and design stages of the process in teams that operate on the shift-left ideology.

Testers have a say in what they think will cause bugs or which features will require more thorough testing. Then, using techniques such as test-driven development, where coders prioritize testing, testability is integrated into the code.

Shift-left, on the other hand, does not always imply ongoing testing. Although the software development community recognizes the continuous technique as a means of improving product quality, you can shift-left you’re testing without testing at every level of your SDLC.

That’s because, at its foundation, shift-left is more about a movement in your team’s perspective. A percentage of your testing can still be done near the end of your SDLC, but the major difference is that quality assurance has been taken into account from the beginning. It’s all about incorporating testers into the product’s early conversations and ideas.

When your priorities quality, it becomes a constant part of your SDLC. “How does this affect quality?” and “How can we test this?” are regular queries. This will surely increase product quality.

What is shift-right?

Shifting left isn’t a novel concept. Since the 1950s, programmers have known that testing early results in higher-quality products.

Furthermore, it appears that the word “shift-left” has a rival.

The maintenance stage of your SDLC is the emphasis of shift-right. Rather than simply handing over the product to operations, brushing off your hands, and forgetting about it, development teams concentrate on testing, monitoring, and updating the program in production.

Shifting right doesn’t imply ignoring testing all the way to production; rather, it means understanding and executing a strategy that permits testing to take place even after a product has gone live and gained a user base.

Which approach should you use?

There is no correct answer in this situation.

The idea of having to choose between shift-left and shift-right destroys the point of both approaches. Testing is not a static component in your SDLC, according to both beliefs.

Testing should neither be viewed as a stand-alone step in the process nor should it be considered an afterthought. Traditional methodologies, like a waterfall, can lead to testing being viewed as a bottleneck and a source of problems rather than a solution.

If you’re having trouble with severe defects and your product quality is suffering, it’s time to rethink your SDLC and see if a shift-left strategy to testing could help.

Testing early not only improves quality but also saves money. According to Capers Jones’ research, a fault discovered early in the SDLC costs $25 to cure, whereas a bug discovered later costs $16,000.

This means that shifting left allows you to catch bugs before they become critical and costly to address. With finances tight all across the world, any cost-cutting effort will be welcomed by tech teams.

Furthermore, adding testing into the design phases allows your team to anticipate errors before they arise, allowing you to resolve issues before they become a problem.

It’s true that testing in production isn’t for everyone when it comes to shift-right.

Risking launching a product with severe faults isn’t an appealing option for small firms, especially when users haven’t yet bought into the brand. Bugs could dissuade customers and diminish retention rates in this situation.

Furthermore, as Jones’ research demonstrates, repairing some flaws after the fact might be costly. But shift-right isn’t only about product testing. It’s about recognizing that this is a feasible alternative and maintaining product quality even after it’s been released. It implies that your product isn’t just handed over to operations and forgotten about.

In other words, shifting right emphasizes the importance of ongoing progress.

What you should do next

Don’t be put off by the trendy terms.

Shifting to the left isn’t merely a fad that will fade away in a few years. Regardless of how it is packaged, testing early saves money and improves quality. Similarly, shift-right is a term that emphasizes the importance of an efficient post-production process.

The fact that both approaches increase product quality is what connects them. And, in a crowded market, quality is what will set your goods apart.

So, what are your options now? Take a step back from your present SDLC process and consider the following:

  • Is it early enough to include testing?
  • Do I continue to improve once I’ve completed a project?
  • Is there a problem with either, or both, for my team?

Make a flowchart of your SDLC. Find the earliest point at which testing can be implemented, as well as the point at which it can be implemented after the launch. As with the waterfall paradigm, make sure testing isn’t merely a static block or step 4 out of 5. If that’s the case, your QA department may be acting as a bottleneck rather than a critical component of producing a high-quality product.

This may necessitate some resource, tool, and time redistribution, but the end result will be a more streamlined and efficient procedure.

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