QA Expertise: Manual vs Automated Testing

Sep 9, 2019

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While it’s clear that software testing and QA are a must for the reliable and successful performance of any software piece, the choice between testing types and approaches still may be a complicated one.

How to pick the most appropriate option for a specific project? How to ensure you receive the most benefits of what your QA service provider offers? Learn more about QulixQA expertise in manual and automated testing to find out how it may be useful for your project. 

Testing basically looks like refined sculpting, which drives the product as close to perfect as possible. The entire process is split in iterations, and every single iteration works to ensure a higher level of quality, stability, and safety. A variety of modern tools and approaches are used by quality assurance vendors. There are dozens of testing types, according to some classifications. However, the primary aspect to keep in mind is to go for a manual or automated testing or combine them both.

Manual VS Automated Testing: the key difference

Despite the noticeable trend of automating everything around, manual testing is still on its feet. An experienced and skilled brain of a QA-specialist is still capable of outperforming the machine, especially when it comes to exploratory testing and creative tasks. Manual testing is as popular in software vendors as it was long before the launch of automation scripts. 

Technical requirements, workload, and types of tests conducted - are the three major factors to help determine the balance between manual and automation testing for a certain project. Quality Assurance is there to implement the best of what IT specialists have created so far. Let’s learn more about it. 

Manual testing (MT)

According to Techopedia, ‘manual testing is the process of manually reviewing and testing a software/application for errors, defects and/or vulnerabilities.’ It can be carried out by a tester or directly by a developer, who codes. The goal is to detect different kinds of defects (major, medium and minor) that end users may face later to be able to fix them in advance. 

The software piece is checked without any tools or additional hardware. The app is run on different devices (mobile phones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers) to ensure its proper operation and to reveal possible drawbacks in the UI/UX structure. In addition, the app is tested for stable performance.

Automated testing (AT)

Automated testing incorporates human efforts, but solely at the primary stage. The testing scripts are created by test automation engineers depending on the task. Later it can be used multiple times ‘with little or no intervention from the test-engineer’ (Techopedia). Automated testing is used for a number of tests that are either time-consuming  (for example, smoke or regression tests) or impossible (for example, in case non-GUI app testing) to perform manually. The goal of automated testing is to reveal deviations from the expected results, not to explore the software piece from different angles (like manual testers do). In brief: the computer is powered by a code-based script to ensure if the app runs smoothly. 

Manual VS Automated Testing: pros and cons

As we are done with definitions and differences, let’s move on and outline the advantages and the disadvantages for both.

Pros of Manual Testing:

  • The results of manual testing demonstrate the actual interaction of users with the product
  • It helps to detect bugs that influence the system functionality, ease of navigation and use
  • Manual testers can stay flexible and test newly introduced features as soon as possible (while it may take time to write scripts and prepare the test bench)
  • Manual testing is affordable, easily documented and doesn’t require licensing or additional tools
  • If the task requires domain excellence and an inquisitive mind, then manual testing is a must-have.

Pros of Automated Testing:

  • If the project is long-lasting, and the team is tight for time - test automation is a highly perspective way out. 
  • In case testing is about continuous sets of repetitive tasks - it makes sense to invest in test automation. 
  • Computers know nothing about fatigue, day-offs, and vacations, so in some cases, they may be a reliable replacement for human brains. 
  • Test automation pays off in the long run, when it is implemented correctly and for the right type of tests. Although, some initial calculations may look discouraging, the investment can be worth it. It’s better to consult an experienced QA vendor to gather analytics and make reasonable predictions. 

Despite the advantages, there are some cons for both of the testing approaches:

Cons of Manual testing:

  • While in some cases the human factor is a benefit, it may turn out to be a risk: in terms of timeframes and effort quality. 
  • If the team consists of highly experienced testers, the costs may be sufficient.
  • Declined tester’s attention from iteration to iteration, especially when dealing with similar tasks.
  • Manual testing can be extremely difficult, time-consuming or hardly possible for certain kinds of tests (it is not designed for). 

Cons of Automated testing:

  • The key value of test automation is provided by manually written scripts. It takes a lot of time and efforts to create a high-quality script, in addition, such a solution is expensive enough. 
  • Hiring experienced automation testers adds up to the overall expenses.
  • The investment in test automation pays off only when it is planned out right.
  • In case of changes inconsistent with the test scripts, the test results may not be as informative as expected. 

When switching from manual to automated testing is not an option

To ensure the productivity of automated testing, a couple of requirements should be met: 

  • The projects are delivered on the CI/CD basis (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery);
  • The app is impossible to be tested manually, as it happens with the non-GUI apps like libraries or drivers;
  • the project requires certain certification and/or correspondence with the industry or company standards (for example, as it works for financial and banking software).

Here are the tests that work best when automated:

  • Complex calculation tests;
  • Smoke tests;
  • Sanity tests;
  • Data-driven tests;
  • Regression tests. 

It makes sense to automate tests of frequently used functions to decrease risks and tests that are likely to cause a human error. 

If you are not sure, what type of testing to choose or have questions on how to combine both - we are ready to share our expertise in QA services. Contact us to inquire about recent projects or get a quote.