Too often we hear words defined loosely. We all have a sense of what the term means, but when pushed for a clear definition we struggle to agree:
Think Outside The Box
What exactly is Shift Left? In simple terms, it is the process of early analysis or validation which means we shift the identification of a problem left i.e. earlier in the plan. There are numerous studies showing the financial benefits of Shift Left. It is 100x cheaper to fix an issue in analysis than in production.
Unfortunately, too many DevOps professionals refer to Shift Left as earlier testing as they are thinking of only the Develop & Build and Test phases.
But if we look further left….. Are the requirements really understood (before the app hits production)? How powerful would it be to know the impact of changes to Org metadata (before it breaks the Org)? What is the cost of downtime created by a patch that was rushed into production (looking at you Facebook)?
Without the accurate analysis, you are delivering the wrong features with the risk of breaking the org which impacts adoption and erodes trust, even if you deploy to Production faster and often. Many DevOps professionals talk about Shift Left, but rarely think “how much further they could shift left” because it is outside their remit – in the earlier business analysis phase. Understanding the business requirements and the impact of the change from a technical, business and regulatory basis is the cornerstone of Shift Left.
The only way to truly embrace Shift Left is to adopt a Change Intelligence Platform, where you see the aggregated view of the interconnected analysis; requirements, business processes, Org configuration knowledge, dependency and impact analysis, and user stories. Only then do you have the full picture to spot issues earlier when they are 100x or 1000x cheaper and quicker to fix than when the issues are in Production.
So maybe the issue is terms like Shift Left and Thinking Outside The Box are not being badly defined, but they are bounded by the scope of the person using it. Thinking Outside The Box on climate change for an individual might be buying an electric car, but for Elon Musk it was building an electric car company. In a similar way, Shift Left for DevOps means improving the quality of the released code, but for the CRM or Platform Owner, Shift Left means driving a 1000x better ROI from Salesforce.