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‘Shift Left’ to Reduce Cost of Quality

Nicole Radziwill

A “shift left” strategy in software development can reduce quality costs and help you make sure your SaaS EHSQ implementation is positioned for success.

Implementing software can sometimes feel like a risky proposition, especially for organizations that don’t have a dedicated software engineering staff and whose businesses are not centered on the software itself. There are ways to reduce this risk, though, including outsourcing, subscribing to Software as a Service (SaaS), or adopting robust quality assurance and testing practices.

One of the approaches that’s gained popularity in the software community the past few years is “shift left.” That is, you can improve quality and user experience by putting quality controls in place as early as possible in a design or development process:

            “Think about the end-result, and all of the steps that get to the end-result, while you are creating the first design. And key to all of that is the ability to test the solution, as automatically as possible.”

Moreover, shifting left will save you time, money, and effort in the long run. Errors and issues are more costly the longer it takes you to discover them -- and this is the case for manufacturing and service organizations too. When an issue impacts the customer, not only will it take resources to resolve that issue, but your company’s reputation can suffer (especially if many customers are impacted). It’s much less costly to find errors internally, during testing, or better yet to make sure the errors never occur by designing a system that does not make them.

In general, it is much less expensive to invest in ensuring good quality -- preventing issues, and routinely checking to make sure issues aren’t occurring -- than it is to spend money on resolving problems. The closer to the customer those problems occur, the more expensive they will be.

You don’t have to wait until your software systems are completely in place to make sure they will meet the needs of your users. Introducing EHSQ software into an organization, for example, can greatly benefit from shifting left. When you’re deciding how to configure your user interfaces to drive your unique processes and workflows, bring the mockups and sketches to the end users who will be interacting with your system the most. You don’t have to engage everyone, but when you consult the people who will be using the software the most, you’re bound to uncover insights that might otherwise remain hidden.

An early focus on quality can also ease the change management process, since people exposed to software in advance tend to be more open to adopting it.

Additional Resources:

Fenton, R. (2019, April 2). 5 of the Best Options for Nonconformance Management Software. Qualio Quality & Compliance Hub. Available from

Radziwill, N. (2019, August 29). A New Look at Prevention and Appraisal Costs. Intelex Community. Available from

About the Author: Nicole M. Radziwill, PhD, MBA, is SVP, Quality and Strategy, at Ultranauts. She is a Fellow for the American Society for Quality (ASQ) , and editor for Software Quality Professional.

February 27, 2020 @ 01:00 PM EST Manufacturing, Food and Beverage, Energy - Oil and Gas, Automotive, Aviation and Aerospace Operations, Quality, Risk Management

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