If you want to have a great QA organization you must shift left in the SDLC. Shift Left is a term that has taken traction over the past several years. There are a few important things to consider before you make that move upstream. You need to ensure that your organization has solid QA processes and that the organization has a solid foundation. If your foundation is not established, you will have many more issues. The strategy of Shift Left applies to multiple testing methodologies. Obviously if you are using Agile, you will be more likely to be engaged sooner in the SDLC since you are working alongside development. If you are doing a few of the following items it will provide you with a good indication that your QA organization is shifting left.
1-Requirements Analysis-QA is performing static testing and looking at the requirements. Great QA teams are creating defects when the requirements aren’t testable, clear, or documented.
2-Unit testing-QA organization is asking to see the results of unit tests. This helps to ensure that development has performed a level of unit testing prior to QA beginning to test.
3-Code reviews-Ask development if code reviews are being performed.
If you focus on making things better before the code gets to QA you will be able to prevent a lot of defects and reduce the overall testing timeline. In addition, those defects will not get to production. I encourage you to spend more time up front in the SDLC and start tracking the number of static requirement defects that the QA team identifies. If you can quantify that in terms of the business impact that would be even better.