Manual VS Automation Testing
Every software/application development process requires testing, debugging and code fixing. Imperfect technology costs developers time and effort for such things as a modification of software, faults correction, and overall performance improvement. Because of this, many early-stage startups get stuck on the final stage of product development. The question then arises “how to choose between manual and automation testing”.
This article aims to explore the two approaches and provide an introductory guide to their advantages and disadvantages. By the end of the reading, you will be able to decide on the best approach that complies with your software development methodologies and organizational strategy.
What is Manual Testing and Automation Testing?
Let’s define the two testing approaches and their characteristics, starting from the manual testing.
What is Manual Testing?
Manual testing is a practice of program verification and modification executed by a real person. Manual tests do not require support from tools or scripts – they are commonly performed by hand. In actual practice, maintenance teams rely on their agile experience resulting from years of quality-control practice; these are narrow-profile specialists that have a profound knowledge of code and flexible problem-solving skills to quickly resolve the problem.
QA teams’ job is to conduct deep analysis and testing of how the software operates by means of following a set of instructions for test validation.
If you opt for this type of QA testing service, the only downside is that it is time-consuming. Software owners usually spend most of their time allotted to development running checks. Nevertheless, if you employ a high-performing QA team, the testing process would not take much time and would serve well in your product development process. Besides, if you are to decide on automation testing, you won’t be able to complete the software validation without manual support; the manual stage is inevitable because developers have to prepare the software for automated testing.
The manual software testing comprises of the following stages:
- Adhoc testing is unstructured, and performed without planning and test design techniques;
- Exploratory testing is a pre-testing phase executed for the purpose of defining what important particles testers should focus on;
- Usability testing is a usability practice that involves user participation to evaluate UX.
Let’s proceed with the example of usability testing. QA programmers are well-trained to detect even minor instances of both design and functionality errors. Namely, if the user struggles to operate the software/application, or finds the design blurry, the devs would know what parts need fixing.
Moreover, if we are to consider a narrow issue e.g. the buttons’ design blends with the software’s background, preventing users from actually seeing it, you should know that automated testing would be useless here.
Finally, the QA team’s analysis is very reliable in relation to UX which is crucial if you’re aiming to create a simple and user-friendly interface.
What Is QA Automation?
We have learned that manual testing is impossible to omit. Then why should we resort to QA automation?
The software verification process, as well as the entire product development cycle, is a series of sophisticated analytical and coding techniques that are too complex to execute entirely without automation; these include all fields and workflows such as image comparison, simultaneous testing on all devices, and so on. Automation scripts provide devs with flexibility and necessary technology that can complete these processes for us.
Automation testing helps engineers to deal with the following:
- Identify usability issues;
- automate repetitive tasks impossible to do manually;
- rarely changing cases.
It is worth noting that auto testing is ineffective when applied to features that require continuous altering or have flexible functionality.
That approach applies to the following testing processes:
- GUI, API tests
- Unit testing
- Integration testing
- Build verification testing
- Functional and non-functional (regression) testing
- Acceptance testing
- Load, performance and stress testing
Test automation is meaningful only when applied to the software program that has been fully processed manually. In other words, if you are certain that particular program parts won’t undergo any change in the near future, choose QA automation.
According to the statistics, functional testing takes about 10h per platform, providing that the product we’re talking about is light-weight and has smooth functionality. However, if we are to consider massive operating systems, the testing process may require much more time, approximately one week per platform.
For the sake of avoiding unwanted time consumption, devs seek assistance from automation testing.
Pros and Cons of Manual and Automated Testing
Today’s tech innovations provide QA engineers with testing frameworks that support nearly all coding languages. So why do they need to refer to manual testing? Because there are lots of benefits associated with manual testing that are absent in automation testing, and vice versa.
The next section of our guide focuses on the pros and cons of both approaches.
Advantages of Manual Testing
- Speed and flexibility
Let’s say you need to check the one particular change you made to the application. You might probably decide to go through them on your own, saving on the expenses of additional tools. But what if your client does not like this change? Since devs are continually guided and pushed by product managers and have to abide by the changing requirements of the customers, they have eventually learned how to make critical decisions and beat errors quickly.
And even though you have prepared the test cases, it makes no difference because you will need to alter them as well; in this scenario, the best decision will be to devote your time to the feature update instead of wasting it on the test automation update. This is especially true if you are building a mobile app. Most of the mobile applications are built in a short span of time, and adding new changes does not require too much effort, and that is why manual testing is the optimal way to modify the code fast.
2. Human feedback
The velocity and flexibility factors of the manual testing approach optimize the final stages of the product development process, but there are other factors that deserve your attention.
Another advantage of manual testing is that you can check whether the customer is satisfied with the product or not. Particularly, you can conduct a user observation to get them to evaluate your preliminary manual copy, and thus get clear feedback on the variables and overall functionality of the product. Once you complete a practical feedback survey, you can proceed with the testing according to user needs.
In contrast, automated tests are not able to detect and fix minor details; only highly-skilled QA programmers can handle that.
Drawbacks of Manual Testing
1. Number of errors
The human factor can serve as both plus and minus in testing practice. This implies technical risks often rooting from poor human-system-design or inaccuracy of performing operating procedures. Since the possibility of negative outcomes is fully dependable on the engineers that conduct software testing, manual testing is regarded as deficient in some respects.
2. Sluggish process
Automated testing allows you to set the process and leave it running whilst you can focus on other important things. Contrary, with manual testing you cannot afford this kind of imposingness. Quality control teams spend lots of time and effort on the lengthy manual approach to product validation.
Benefits of Automation Testing
1. Test automation is cost-effective
First and foremost, software owners expect the final stage of software development (testing & deployment) to take no longer than a few days. The sooner developers perfect the product, the faster it will be launched. Therefore, we deduce that one of the main benefits of implementing test-automation is the possibility to check the code right after its completed without spending a dime. With the help of special software tools, programmers are able to identify and resolve errors faster, whilst software owners have no need to overpay.
2. Better Source Allocation
As the code expands, engineers implement new functionality features that also require the assistance of the QA team; the team has to go through the code again to make sure that there are no bugs in the newly added features.
The essence of this approach is that the necessary functional testing is conducted automatically during off-work hours, allowing QA engineers to focus on other challenging tasks that cannot be tested automatically.
We have discovered that the cons and pros of two testing approaches are correlated and mutually exclusive. Simply put, there is no definite answer to whether you should adhere more to one option than the other. The best way is to combine these two, relying both on expert knowledge of your development team and separate software tools.
Automating all tests involves costs associated with test maintenance. Also, automation technology has not reached its full potential in terms of flawless functionality, so manual testing will maintain its relevance as an indispensable instrument of program validation practices.
We hope that you will find this information useful when conducting software/application validation and verification tests. Remember to carefully plan every stage of your project development procedures with a prioritization framework in one way or another.