Before we go into detail about shift right testing, it will be helpful if we visualise the basic software development life cycle in a straight line.
Even a waterfall model can also provide a good example. In a typical development lifecycle, the testing usually comes at the end of the cycle. This would cause lengthy changes, with a long deployment process.
Shift right and shift left testing moves forward and backwards in the cycle for better test coverage. Shift left testing covers the pre-release process and shift right deals with the post-release process. Shift-right testing increases collaboration with operations disciplines.
What is Shift-Right Testing?
Shift right testing can be described as continuously executing various tests in the application even after the software is deployed in the production environment. Collecting feedback continuously from end users and taking a shift-right testing approach are equally important for the quality of the application.
Usually, certain things are out of scope for the tester, let’s say downtime. When it comes to a live application, it is not acceptable to the customer. When testers continuously monitor and test the application this can be avoided.
Shift right testing is really popular in organisations which follow DevOps principles. It needs collaboration from various teams to validate fields being coded to avoid data loss.
Why Shift-Right Testing Matters?
Improves Customer experience
When we implement shift right testing in our software development cycle, it creates a better experience for the customers. Shift right testing is crucial because it is based on how the customer uses the application. Thus giving us the
Employing both shifts left and shift right testing ensures that you have confidence that if the software application is acceptable now, it will be acceptable to customers.
Avoids unpredicted outcomes
User experience might be compromised if we deploy the software without shifting right as the deployment requires intense monitoring. Also, we can’t predict how the software application will respond in the production environment. There are several external factors including third-party dependencies, fluctuating resource usage and more. Shift right testing helps us element such concerns by allowing us to test in the production environment or an environment which can simulate these factors.
Prevents major defects
With shift right testing we can use the software application in such a way that mimics end-user behaviour, it can be combined with automated testing tools. Such testing helps us identify issues with performance, functionality, and user experience. This in turn will identify these defects and the teams can fix these issues in small increments rather than putting out major fires.
When the team performs the right shit testing in a production environment, we can proactively identify the upcoming issues as the data comes through production.
Different types of Shift-Right testing
Shift right testing comes into scope when the development process is completed and the software application goes into the hands of users. The purpose of shift right testing is to understand usability, stability, and emerging production issues.
Shift right testing includes several testing techniques as follows:
- A/B testing
- Blue/Green Deployment
- Canary testing
- Features flagging
- Fault injection
- Production testing
- Load testing
Let’s look into each technique in shift right testing:
Here the team builds two versions of the same features and we release them to check the user response. We can understand software usability and user preferences through a/b testing. This testing can only be performed post-release and get real feedback from the customer.
Learn more: A/B Testing Detailed Guide
Here, we maintain two production environments where one is in use and one is held as a backup. The system can quickly switch to the other environment if there are any issues in the existing environment due to new code or server failure etc.
Here we release the new feature to only a small set of users. This was used to test the code with a small sample to understand the stability of the application.
Feature flag/Features toggles is a technique that turns certain functionality on and off during runtime, without deploying new code. This helps the team make changes without pushing additional code and allows us for more controlled experimentation over the lifecycle of features.
Fault injection/Chaos Testing
Here we introduce errors to the software on purpose to check how the software performs and also whether it can recover.
We can use tools such as Sentry or Bugsnag to notice unexpected behaviour in the production environment as soon as it occurs.
Learn more: How To Perform Testing in Production
Based on the user data and other products that are initially identified investigate scenarios issues, then load tests, usage scenarios, and other tests are performed
Learn more: How To Perform Load Testing
Importance of Shift-Right testing
Shift-Right testing expands the testing horizon towards end-user feedback. Various factors such as performance-in-real-context, functionality, failure tolerance and fine prints of actual user experience are tested in the production stages. Also keeping an eye on the usage scenarios, sometimes they go unnoticed or not-received by either side testers and users. Production deployment can be risky but with shift right testing we can get real user feedback which gives us a competitive advantage against other rivals.
Shift right testing is important because of the following reasons:
- We’ll receive the customer feedback early through shift right approach and modify the changes required on the software application
- Shift-right testing creates a lot of scope for automation, this enables the software application to have better quality.
- User interface automation can be enabled through shift-right testing, once the core features are stable
- A large chunk of the application can be tested through shift right testing which gives a broader idea of the functioning of the application.
- Shift right testing ensures the software application is free from defects and offers delightful customer experiences.
Key Benefits of Shift-Right testing
Some of the key benefits of shift right testing are explained below:
#1. Enhancing customer experience
With the help of shift right testing, we can collect customer issues effectively. After collecting the issues, we translate them
into technical and business languages. We can enhance the overall customer experience by isolating each issue and improving it.
#2. More scope for automation
Post-release there would be several patches and features released in the application. When we automate the whole process, it can save us a lot of time. Automating the user interface when the core functionality gets stable can be very crucial for our testing speed. Shift right testing enables us to do that.
#3. High test coverage
Shift right testing method enables the test engineers to test more, test on time and test late. This in turn brings in lesser bugs (at a basic stage), provides better quality (at an elevated stage) and can improve the customer experience ratio.
Challenges of Shift-Right Testing
Here are some challenges you might face during shift right testing
- Everyone is set in their way of working, when we introduce new methods, processes, skills, tooling, etc.
- It requires a lot of collaboration from different teams when not implemented properly might lead to miscommunication.
- It requires us to allot the resources to work on post-release activities, but the existing resources would be working on other parts of the product.
- Budget constraints when introducing new tools for shift right testing.
Best Practices of Shift-Right Testing
#1. Plan the entire testing lifestyle
Shift right testing has several testing techniques that can be implemented but based on the purpose, functionality, requirements, and technologies used for the software only certain testing techniques can be implemented.
For certain functions and features, it might be effective to identify bugs in the early stages, so testing early fits right. For some features, the issue might arise during or post-deployment, they need to be planned accordingly.
It is highly recommended to create a comprehensive and pragmatic view of requirements, expectations, limitations and strategy.
#2. Integrating project management process with testing
One of the main reasons why a software application fails is due to a lack of selecting the right testing approach. When test engineers are not involved in crucial stages like the idea phase, and the project-initiation phase, it can bring bad outcomes.
The QA team should be involved in various development processes. Project management has the crucial role of bridging the gap between these teams.
Project management should create a space for smooth and symbiotic integration between testing and development teams This can determine the success and failure of the software application.
#3. Specifying quality standards
Each testing approach would result in various levels of quality, features and performance. The acceptance criteria might be different for each approach.
So having a clear idea of the expectations on the quality and the non-negotiable areas( ex. Payment process) will help both the testing and development team to rigorously code and test the priorities.
#4. Planning departmental deployments
Based on how well the testing is planned and how the teams collaborate, we’ll find the hurdles and unexpected issues in the delivery pipeline. This also helps us to avoid delays, availability issues, environment, service resources, code dependency, and even conflicts between the team.
#5. Induce developers to code with testability in mind
When the development team gets familiar with the concept of shift right testing, there would be visible improvements in design, fewer bottleneck situations, amplified efficiency and an overall better software experience that delivers what was expected.
Here the developers would write the code in such a way that it adapts to the production inclination or a pre-code-testing appetite depending on the kind of testing. This enables the readiness of the code which will help both the developers and testers, ultimately the end users.
#6. Setting up a continuous feedback mechanism
Shift-right testing enables us to create a continuous feedback system and expands the scope of the test engineer. Even though there might be downtime, failures, and server issues in the production environment, these gaps can be addressed through shift right testing through continuous feedback.
Shift-Right Testing Methods
The shift right technique is crucial as it initiates post-production testing activities. Here we check the performance and the usability of the application by monitoring them and collecting feedback to understand user behaviour.
We can plan on launching new features in the application fast and testing them by simulating their behaviour in the production environment. This can be enabled only by gathering continuous feedback from the customers through both formal and informal communication channels.
The shift right testing method implements some tests in the post-release. We can make sure that a certain feature works properly only when tested in the production environment. The purpose of shift right testing is to capture the defects in the production environment and fix them before the real user sees them.
At times it can be risky to perform these actions in a live environment. There is a long debate where teams say that the staging environment can serve as an alternative to shifting right testing into production. The other side of the argument insists that the staging environment can’t properly mimic the data or usage seen in production.
Shift right testing relies on various testing such as
- A/B testing
- Blue/Green Deployment
- Canary testing
- Features flagging
- Fault injection
- Production testing
- Load testing
The IT operation team is very protective of the live environment, especially financial transaction modules. Shift right testing is synonymous to DevOps, thus the IT operations team should collaborate with the testing team and the development team. We can enable the ops team to
to implement tests, logging and monitoring tools that alert quickly on release problems.
For performing tests in a production environment, we have to wait for low traffic hours and prepare for the outage. For example, certain bank sites will be under maintenance. We should also notify the third parties if the application is integrated, we should inform them that you are testing in production.
How to get started with Shift-Right testing?
To get started with shift right testing we have to collect the right set of data. Software applications collect a lot of data. Monitoring tools can assist us to sort important data. After implementing the monitoring process, some other process should be implemented for shift right testing to be successful.
We have to consider monitoring which data, log, availability, bugs and other measures. We can also monitor API information, for identifying issues that are specific to APIs and third-party components.
Once we identify the core of the shift right testing, the team will start mapping out the scope for automation and other ways to speed up the shift right process. Usually, the frequently used functionality and simple modules are the right targets to start Automation testing.
How Shift-Left and Shift-Right Testing Differ?
|Shifting left means moving all tasks related to test execution to the left on in a software’s development timeline.
|Shifting right means moving all tasks related to test execution to the right on in a software’s development timeline.
|The term "shifting left" means that critical tests are done more frequently throughout the software design and development process, rather than waiting until the end when it's too late to make changes.
|The term "shifting right" means that monitoring user behavior, performance and security metrics, as well as experimenting with Chaos Engineering to test a system's resistance levels.
|Aim is to find problems early.
|Aim is to find how resistant the application is.
|Practice of performing testing early in the development life cycle.
|Practice of performing testing at the end of the development life cycle (i.e., in production).
|Shift-left testing is performed early in the software application's lifecycle, it goes hand-in-hand with the development process.
|Shift right testing is performed in the post deployment in the life cycle (end of the development life cycle), the testing is performed in the production environment.
|Testers perform shift left tests to identify and fix bugs as early as possible in the development pipeline to avoid errors.
|Testers perform shift right tests to identify and fix bugs as early as possible in the deployment pipeline to enhance user experience.
|Shift-left moves the testing process, quality, and performance evaluation early in the software development process.
|Shift-right moves the testing process, quality, and performance evaluation in the production environment under real-world conditions.
|It speeds up development efficiency and reduces costs as it detects and addresses bugs earlier in the development cycle before they get to production.
|It ensure that applications running in production can withstand real user load while ensuring the quality of the application.
|By adopting a "shift left" mentality, QA teams can proactively identify issues and problems early on in the development process, before it's too late to make changes. This allows developers to address potential challenges without succumbing to the pressures of an upcoming deadline. Additionally, "shift left" saves money by identifying and resolving errors sooner rather than later.
|By adopting a "shift right" mentality, QA teams perform software testing at the end of the development cycle, also known as testing in production. This approach allows developers to find new and unexpected scenarios that may have gone undetected in development environments.
|By shifting left, developers and testers are able to work more effectively together.
|By shifting right, testers and Ops teams are able to work more effectively together.
Both shifts left and shift right bring in their advantages. Agile teams can make use of a smoother process, reduced cost and earlier bug fixes. Shift right testing integrates user feedback and quick fixes.
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