Shifting Left in Testing: A Guide for Non-Coders

April 8, 2024

Katja Obring avatar
Katja Obring
Kat Obring has over 15 years of experience helping startups and larger organisations nail their test strategy to deliver software frequently and well tested.

Shifting testing left means integrating quality assurance processes early in the software development lifecycle. But, what if you’re a tester with more expertise in manual testing than in coding? Can you still contribute effectively to this shift? The answer is a resounding “yes.” This blog post is dedicated to helping testers without coding skills navigate the shift left movement, emphasising the value they bring and the steps they can take to be integral parts of their team’s success.

Understanding the value you bring

First and foremost, it’s crucial to recognise the inherent value of your role. Testers have a deep understanding of end-user needs, are adept at identifying potential issues from a user’s perspective, and bring meticulous attention to detail. These skills are indispensable when it comes to early testing and ensuring the product meets user expectations from the start.

Embrace collaboration

Shifting left isn’t just about pushing tasks earlier in the process; it’s mainly about fostering collaboration between testers and developers. Start by participating in early project meetings and design discussions. Your insights can help prevent issues before any code is written, reducing the need for extensive coding knowledge upfront.

Get familiar with version control

Understanding version control systems like Git can be a game-changer, even if you’re not writing code. Familiarise yourself with the basics of cloning a repository, viewing history, and understanding changes. This knowledge enables you to stay informed about the project’s progress and collaborate more effectively with developers.

Leverage no-code/low-code tools

There’s an array of no-code/low-code testing tools available that don’t require a deep understanding of programming languages. Tools like Selenium IDE for web testing or Microsoft Power Automate for automated workflows can be great starting points. They allow you to create automated tests and understand the logic behind testing scripts, bridging the gap between manual and automated testing. However, these tools also have downsides: most developers won’t touch them with a bargepole, and often they are limited in what you can achieve using them. I view them as entry points to learn something new, and would recommend not getting too attached to a tool. Look at what problem it solves, and then learn more flexible ways to solve this same problem.

Enhance your testing with exploratory techniques

While you’re building your coding skills, lean into exploratory testing. This technique doesn’t require code and focuses on exploring the application, identifying unexpected behaviour, and learning the system. It’s a critical part of early testing and can often catch issues that automated tests might miss.

Educate yourself gradually

Transitioning into a more technical role doesn’t happen overnight. Start with the basics of programming concepts and gradually move towards understanding the languages most relevant to your projects. Resources like Codecademy, Khan Academy, and even YouTube tutorials can be invaluable.


Shifting left as a tester without coding skills is not only possible, but your unique perspective is also crucial to the success of this approach. By leveraging collaboration, embracing no-code/low-code tools, and gradually enhancing your technical skills, you can significantly contribute to your team’s ability to deliver high-quality software faster and more efficiently.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to shift left as a tester, sign up for my newsletter The 15-Minute Catalyst, where I share one thing you can do in 15 minutes or less that will improve quality in your team.