Why Does DevOps Require Shift-Left Testing Principles?

December 1, 2022
Aakanksha Dixit

Table of contents

Enterprises are aggressively leveraging DevOps to quickly respond to changing market dynamics and customer needs. However, the biggest bottleneck to implementing a successful DevOps framework is testing.

Too many companies that are utilizing DevOps frameworks still test their software manually. This leads to a lack of visibility, duplication of efforts, and project backlogs. This, in turn, causes project delays and cost-overruns.

To address these challenges, enterprises should adopt shift left testing strategy and test automation, which enable them to test faster and more comprehensively.

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What are shift left testing principles?

With traditional frameworks of software development, application testing is performed at the end of the software development process. If applications don’t meet quality standards, don’t function properly, or otherwise fail to meet requirements, they are sent back to development teams. This isn’t optimal because bugs discovered late in the development stage are more complex, time-consuming, and expensive to resolve than bugs discovered earlier in the development process.

Why does DevOps Require Shift-Left Testing?

Shift Left refers to the software development process in which teams focus on seeking out and preventing problems earlier, instead of waiting for them to rear their ugly heads. Shift Left testing principles depend on a software testing process that is continuous throughout the software development life cycle. And it also serves to increase software quality, shorten prolonged test cycles, and reduce the possibility of unpleasant surprises at the end of the development cycle or worse, in production.

Why shift left testing principles?

Cost alone is a very strong incentive for shifting your testing to the left. According to IBM, if a bug is found in the testing phase just before production, fixing it cost 15 times more than what it cost in the design phase. Shift left testing principles allow developers to discover bugs early and fix them before they reach the production environment.

Shift-Left Testing

In addition to cost savings, shift left testing saves time: Since bugs are detected earlier, developers don’t need to waste time recalling their old codes and workflows.

What are the benefits of shift left testing?

You probably understand the term "shift left testing" by now, but what does it actually mean when it comes to benefits?

In simpler terms, shift left testing is a methodology that encourages developers to test their code as early as possible in the development process. This helps catch errors and defects early on, which in turn reduces the risk of them propagating downstream and causing problems.

But that's not all. Shift left testing also has other benefits, such as:

  • It leads to faster feedback cycles, which means developers can get rapid feedback on their code and make changes/fixes quickly.
  • It helps to identify issues early on, before they become big problems.
  • It results in higher quality code, as defects are caught and fixed sooner.

All in all, shift left testing is a powerful tool that can help you improve the quality of your code and your DevOps workflow.

What changes after you shift to the left?

After you shift to the left, you'll see a few changes in your team's workflow.

For starters, the wait time for testing activities goes down significantly. This is because DevOps prioritizes customer involvement, so testing is done as early as possible in the software development cycle.

Secondly, the makeup of your team changes. You'll see a more diverse set of team members performing software testing.

And lastly, coverage goes up. With shift left testing, you're able to test more comprehensively and find errors and defects earlier in the development process.

How to do shift left testing

Shift left requires two practices – continuous testing and continuous deployment.

Continuous Testing

  • Continuous testing is a process of testing applications early, often, and comprehensively.
  • It simply isn’t feasible to perform manually.

Continuous Deployment

  • Continuous deployment automates the provisioning and deployment of new builds, enabling continuous testing to happen efficiently.
  • It offers quick feedback to development teams with regards to release candidates, enabling managers to make better informed decisions to optimize the value of a release.

Thus, test automation is integral to continuous testing. However, incorporating test automation has its own challenges, which are discussed below.

How to get started with shift left testing

You may be wondering how to get started with shift left testing in your DevOps workflow. Let's take a look at some key steps:

  • First, make sure that you are adhering to coding standards. This will help ensure that your code is ready for testing from the get-go.
  • Second, start implementing testing in the early stages of the software development lifecycle. This will help you catch defects and errors before they have a chance to cause problems down the line. So run tests in early stages.
  • Third, embrace test automation. Automated testing can help you speed up the testing process and reduce the number of errors that make it into production.

Common challenges when implementing  test automation

Build Time: Many enterprises consider building their own test automation frameworks, but this rarely works well because it’s time consuming and costly to build from scratch.

Steep Learning Curve: Enterprises that use code-based open source tools like Selenium rely on technically trained employees to maintain their test automation framework. This is problematic because non-technical business users know their workflows best and technical teams typically have more high value tasks to perform than testing.

High Maintenance Cost: Most test automation tools use static scripts. Static \scripts don’t automatically adapt to changes that occur from UI changes in the form of new screens, buttons, user flows, or user inputs. Tools that rely on static scripts, rather than dynamic scripts, take far more effort to maintain as their scripts break more frequently.

How to address these challenges

A no code test automation platform solves these challenges through a quick ramp-up time, small learning curve, and low maintenance effort. This, in turn, helps your organization accelerate release cycles, enabling you to make changes quickly in a highly competitive environment.

Though slightly biased, we strongly believe that Opkey is the best no-code automation tool on the market:

  • Opkey is a no code test automation platform, and unlike frameworks built from scratch, customers can get up and running in just a few days.
  • Opkey uses simple drag-and-drop technology to build test cases, enabling functional consultants, business analysts, and manual testers to create tests with just a few hours of training.
  • With Opkey’s self-healing script technology, companies can largely eliminate the burden of test maintenance. Whenever an automated script breaks due to a change in the object property (Name, ID, Xpath, CSS etc.), Opkey automatically identifies the change and fixes the issue without human intervention. Opkey reduces test maintenance effort by more than 90%.
  • Opkey’s AI-powered platform immediately surfaces the tests your organization is currently running, and recommends new tests to fill in the gaps. This ensures optimal test coverage.


Shift left testing is a powerful strategy for improving the quality of your software products. By shifting the focus of testing to earlier in the development cycle, you can catch more defects before they reach production. This can save you time and money in the long run.

If you're not already using shift left testing in your DevOps workflow, now is the time to start. Implementing this strategy can help you improve the quality of your software and deliver better products to your customers. For more details, you can connect with our experts to understand how Opkey can be the one-stop-solution for all major challenges you face.

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