Feb 12th, 2024

Shift Left Testing: Approach, Strategy & Benefits-2024

Satyajit Gantayat
Satyajit Gantayat

Satyajit has broad and deep experience in Agile coaching at the strategic senior executive level wh... Read more

In the fast-paced world of Agile development, ensuring the delivery of high-quality software is not merely a goal—it's a fundamental necessity. And the quality of the product can be ensured only by inspecting the quality of the code at the right time. 

Most of the teams test the code after the completion of the development, to be precise, after the process of writing the entire code, Now, this traditional approach to testing comes with major setbacks, such as high costs, delays in the delivery, etc. But when you adopt the strategy of testing early in your software development cycle, it can help you with early bug detection, cost reduction, faster-time-to market, enhanced collaboration, continuous feedback & improvement.

This early testing is termed Shifting Left, which can revolutionize your approach to software quality.

Understanding Quality in Agile

Quality in Agile goes beyond bug-free code; it's about meeting customer expectations, adapting to changes swiftly, and continuously improving. It's the linchpin for success in our Agile world, ensuring that every iteration brings real value to our users. Defining quality within the Agile context sets the stage for understanding why it is not just a phase but a guiding principle throughout the development lifecycle.

Challenges in Traditional Testing Approaches

Traditional testing methods, while effective in the past, present challenges such as delayed bug detection, longer feedback loops, and increased costs for fixing issues. Late-stage testing can be likened to discovering a leak in a boat after setting sail – inconvenient and sometimes detrimental. Recognizing these limitations propels us toward exploring the need for a strategic shift, urging us to embrace a new way of thinking about testing.

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Shifting Left: What Does It Mean?

Enter the hero – "shifting left." This involves moving testing earlier in the development process and catching issues closer to their origin. Imagine your project timeline as a conveyor belt. Shifting left means repositioning the quality checkpoint closer to the start. 

In traditional approaches, testing occurs towards the end of the development cycle, often after the code has been written. Shifting left involves integrating testing much earlier, ideally at the requirement or design phase. By doing so, we identify and address potential issues when they're still small, reducing the risk of larger, costlier problems later in the process.

To complement this shift, Agile testing best practices come into play. These include involving testers in sprint planning, encouraging collaboration between coders and testers throughout the development lifecycle, and prioritizing automated testing for repetitive tasks. Additionally, adopting a risk-based testing approach ensures that testing efforts focus on areas with the highest potential impact on the product.

Key Agile Testing Strategies

Let's delve into practical strategies that embody the shift-left mentality while leveraging the latest tools and technologies. Test-Driven Development (TDD) is a technique where developers write tests before writing the actual code. This proactive approach ensures that each piece of code functions as intended, catching issues at the earliest possible stage.

Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) takes collaboration to the next level by involving non-technical team members in creating and understanding test scenarios. This shared understanding reduces miscommunications and aligns everyone toward a common goal. Leveraging BDD tools like Cucumber or SpecFlow enhances the efficiency of collaboration.

Continuous Integration (CI) acts as the glue, integrating code changes frequently and automatically verifying their correctness. Tools like Jenkins, Travis CI, or GitLab CI facilitate seamless integration. Adopting containerization technologies like Docker further streamlines the CI/CD pipeline, ensuring consistent environments for testing and deployment.

Exploratory testing remains a valuable practice, encouraging testers to explore the application dynamically, uncovering unforeseen issues. Integrating security testing early, through tools like OWASP ZAP or SonarQube, enhances the product's resilience against potential threats.

Are you tired of last-minute bugs and quality issues? Learn how to embed built-in-quality practices into your development process to ensure a smoother, more efficient delivery journey.

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Shifting Left in Practice

Now, let's bridge theory and practice with real-world success stories. Picture a team embracing TDD, catching and fixing bugs early, resulting in a smoother development process. Or envision a project where BDD brings everyone on the same page, reducing miscommunications and boosting collaboration across the board. These case studies serve as beacons, guiding us toward Agile testing transformations by showcasing tangible benefits and inspiring us to rethink our testing practices.

Wrapping Up

So, as we wrap up our journey into the world of Agile testing, let's not forget – isn't just about checking boxes or just about tweaking processes; it's a cultural shift. Cultivate collaboration, spark continuous improvement, and dive into the latest tools and tech. 

Along this transformative path, keep those communication channels wide open, invest in team training for the latest tools, and celebrate those small victories. It's not just about code; it's about instilling a quality mindset in every Agile stride.


The shift left approach in agile refers to the practice of moving testing early in the development lifecycle. It’s an approach that will help your team find bugs and make early in the process.


SDLC stands for Software Development Life Cycle. It is a process followed by developers to design, develop, and test high-quality software applications. The SDLC aims to produce high-quality software that meets customer requirements within the estimated time and budget.

The shift-left testing approach will help you with lower costs, faster feedback, increased efficiency in the development process, improved product quality, reduced time-to-market, and competitive advantage in the industry. 


Here are the 4 types of shift-left testing approaches— traditional shift-left testing, incremental shift-left testing, Agile/DevOps shift-left testing, and model-based shift-left testing.


Satyajit Gantayat

Satyajit has broad and deep experience in Agile coaching at the strategic senior executive level while also coaching and uplifting the capability of teams and individuals. An Agile Coach and SAFe® Practice Consultant with more than 24 years of experience.

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