5 Ways to Accelerate With Shift-Left in Test Automation


Shift-left gives a direction, but there are still many options.

Upstream activities along the software lifecycle can benefit from test automation to accelerate the quality and speed of delivery.

An additional benefit is to better identify test automation requirements by design, facilitating the implementation and maintenance of automated tests.

This article shares 5 practical ways to start with Shift-left in test automation, keeping in mind the objective to accelerate valuable software delivery.

Follow Cerberus Testing for more open-source test automation.

Identify customer journeys for test automation

Digital experiences start with customer journeys, a method that enables to map the main paths taken by users while interacting with a software solution.

Customer journeys are powerful in the shared visibility and focus they bring to teams that have a tendency to lose sight of users, working on their local priorities.

It’s equally a benefit for test automation. Knowing which customer journeys are more critical, used and changed give valuable inputs for test automation prioritization.

Ensuring a continuous link between customer journeys and automated tests will drastically help the entire team to accelerate their software delivery.

Improve user stories with BDD scenarios

User stories clarify the required behavior of features cascading from customer journeys. They are essential in agile methodologies, but can lack alignment during implementation.

Apply Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) to user stories enrich them with more precise scenarios, examples and acceptance criteria.

This data allows us to streamline the implementation of automated tests that can directly use the defined data to build better automated tests.

Additionally, robust user requirements and scenarios are essential to design tests are more decoupled, easier to implement and maintain with modularity.

Create modular tests having the big picture

Customer journeys maps and user stories give the big picture about the product priority, backlog and upcoming changes of features.

That level of information improves the capability to design tests that are much more modular, aligned on the user experience and overall system architecture.

A good test modularity directly improves the capability to implement and evolve automated tests with speed, equally supporting the acceleration of software delivery.

Separation of concerns is also what lets each test focus on one thing to simplify their usage and analysis. It also lets us more easily add tests of different typology.

Clarify testing needs for non-functional requirements 

Non-functional requirements are more and more critical to successful user experience. Security, reliability, performance are for instance becoming must-have.

Thinking about the need for automated tests in such areas will first question their need; that’s where teams are already shifting left, considering this requirement upstream.

That questioning exercise can lead to defining and implementing valuable automated tests in these areas, improving quality, efficiency, and speed of delivery.

Teams can even go a step further by automating the execution of the tests directly in the software lifecycle using CI/CD pipelines.

Setup automated tests in CI/CD pipelines

Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are terms that become popular with the DevOps movement, equally bringing the use of CI/CD pipelines.

Initially focused at automating the build and deployment of applications, such pipelines evolved to include automated quality gates with automated tests.

That systematic application of testing as part of the lifecycle is part of the continuous testing and shift-left paradigm, performing tests as early as possible.

Shifting-left is indeed about acting as early as possible to improve the quality and speed of the product, where test automation does contribute.

Shift-left with Test Automation to Accelerate

Accelerating software delivery requires a strong confidence to perform more changes that naturally increase the risks of defects, technical debt and other reliability issues.

Test automation comes as continuous health checks allowing to get regular feedback on the state of software along its lifecycle.

Most importantly, considering upstream the need for confident delivery with test automation increases the quality of integrating such requirements by design.

Shift-left in test automation can bring you much more than automated tests and confidence, it can let you iterate with the quality and speed you were searching for.

What will be your first shift-left move?

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