Shift Left for Speed: Breaking Down the Dev/QA Barrier

Despite the widespread adoption of Agile, some testing and QA teams still find themselves falling behind.  With time-to-market more important than ever, is shifting left the key to getting beleaguered QA teams back up to speed?

Shift Left for Speed: Breaking Down the Dev/QA Barrier


Without tracking metrics, it’s near impossible to tell how much testing has actually been completed.
You could have found almost all the defects in the system or just barely scratched the surface.

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley.”

Those words were written over two centuries ago by the immortal Robert Burns.  They may look a little strange at first glance (archaic English can be a little tough to decipher nowadays), but I bet you know them by heart in their modern translation: the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Aside from providing Steinbeck with the title of his now famous novella, Of Mice and Men, that quote also sums up life for a lot of software testing teams.  Despite best plans, things can—and do—go awry quite often.  Whether it’s a backlog of tests that really should be automated, unit tests that aren’t being performed by developers, poorly-defined user stories that waste whole sprints, or something else entirely, there are countless ways for us to fall behind.

And with today’s widespread adoption of Agile, that’s about the worst thing that can happen.

In most IT organizations, time-to-market is paramount.  Competition is fierce and customers are impatient.  So, when testing falls behind, sprints take longer and releases get delayed—starving companies of potential revenue and squandering the competitive advantage of a timely release.

So how can project teams ensure their releases launch on time?  By breaking down old barriers, of course!  Take a page out of the Shift Left playbook and get your testers and QA personnel working with your developers from the very outset.  With QA working alongside your development team, your testers can identify potential bottlenecks and roadblocks early on—preventing costly rework before it ever rears its ugly head.  Plus, by getting testers involved earlier in the SDLC, such as sprint planning, you can make sure that every user story is approached from the angle of “how will we test this?”—ensuring you don’t won’t waste time later on down the road.

This is a big change for the teams that are more familiar with Waterfall, where testing/QA is normally kept separate from the development team, and it’s as much a cultural one as it is procedural.  Fostering a team mentality is paramount here—so don’t stop at just sending meeting invites.  Bringing project teams together for group lunches and happy hours goes a long way towards building a collaborative culture!

That’s the kind of plan anyone—including mice and men—can get behind!

If you’re interested in learning more about Shift Left, Agile, or anything else, be sure to drop us a line for a quick, hassle-free chat with one of our experts.  No pressure—we promise!


Mike Hodge
Lighthouse Technologies, Inc.
Software Testing | Quality Assurance Consulting | Oracle EBS Consulting

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