In a debate on manual vs automation testing, the decision is evident. Many companies choose automation testing for their tasks because it is efficient. But in many cases, manual QA work is more beneficial for the organization.
This article discusses the difference between manual testing and automation testing and outlines cases when the quality assurance team chooses manual testing instead of an automated solution.
WHAT IS MANUAL TESTING?
Manual testing is a process of running tests one-by-one in order. QA engineers perform this testing without any testing scripts. All the reports are also generated manually without any automation tools. QA engineers need to ensure that all features are working as mentioned in the requirements.
There are a few common types of manual testing:
- Black Box Testing. QA engineers evaluate the software’s functionality without looking at the internal code structure.
- Clear Box Testing. Uses programming skills to design test cases. It is usually run at the unit level.
- Component Testing. This testing type ensures that all modules of source code and individual units are working correctly.
- End-o-End Testing. In this case, testers evaluate the system’s compliance with specific requirements. It is usually performed on fully-integrated applications.
- Integration Testing. The process of testing interfaces between two application units.
- Pre-production Testing. This type of testing is usually done with end-users to ensure the final product’s functionality.
PROS AND CONS OF MANUAL TESTING
Running a manual test ensures a high level of control over the process. It means that QA engineers have more visual feedback during the process and can focus on each issue precisely. The next point to consider is the cost of quality assurance. It is always faster to use manual testing for small code changes and evaluate the user-friendliness of an application. Indeed, manual testing does not require specific tools, but the company still needs to hire a team to perform these tasks.
Manual vs. automation testing also depends on the time the QA engineers have. One of the cons of manual testing is the time required for efficient processes. Also, it is hard to test a large project manually, but there are a lot of scenarios when you should choose this type of testing to achieve a goal.
WHAT IS AUTOMATION TESTING?
Before discussing the differences between manual testing and automation testing, we need to outline the principles of automation testing.
The phrase “automated testing” gets thrown around a lot, and if you’re connected with the IT world and familiar with the software testing process, you know the basic concept. Put simply, automated testing is the automation of routine testing operations, and leads to a development process that is:
Automation testing involves having testers write test scripts to run the tests. When it comes to automation vs. manual testing, the main difference is based on who runs the test – human step-by-step or automation framework, along with other tools and software applications.
However, manual and automation testing can be used in different cases and for various purposes.
AUTOMATION TESTING VS MANUAL TESTING
Let’s look at the difference between manual and automation testing more in-depth.
When we talk about automation tests, we mean the writing of code that makes sure a given system works correctly. These efforts require more time during the first steps of the development process, though early investment in automated testing ultimately results in more favorable outcomes than less-accurate manual testing.
These positive outcomes come from two main pros of automated testing in comparison to manual testing:
- First: Developers see errors more quickly when they use automated tests on each build and thus can fix them earlier and at a lower cost.
- Second: Human testers don’t need to check each new feature in an application. The auto-test makes sure that newly implemented features do not negatively impact features from earlier builds.
As the average size of the web and mobile applications grows, QA specialists have to spend more and more time manually testing new code. Unfortunately, many developers deal with this problem by running necessary but expensive tests less frequently. The result is lower-quality products that require high-cost rounds of bug-fixing in the later stages of the development process.
As for another automated testing vs. manual testing difference, we would define the following points:
- Automation testing is more reliable when manual testing can not be accurate all the time. It can always be human error.
- Automation testing requires investment in the software, while manual tests require investments in human resources.
- It is practical to use manual tests when you run them once or twice. If you need to run tests repeatedly over a long period, it’s better to rely on automated tools.
- Manual vs. automation testing requires a different level of programming knowledge from QA. For creating automated testing tools, QA should have a proper understanding of used programming languages.
WHEN TO APPLY AUTOMATION TESTING?
How do you choose automated testing over manual testing? Automated testing is an essential part of the development process for many reasons. So how do you put forth all the advantages of automation testing?
Automated testing may be the best solution if you:
- need a highly reliable system (i.e. due to business-critical or life-altering important purposes);
- want to reduce the cost of future changes to your system (i.e. planning to develop your system in the future);
- need to improve an inherited system with a team unfamiliar with the old software, especially in cases when the previous version is grossly outdated.
There are a lot of scenarios when running automated testing can be more beneficial for the project. Here are some types of testing where automation is preferred:
- Regression testing. Automation is better because of frequent code changes. It allows testing in real-time.
- Load testing. This type of testing ensures the verification of a system working under peak and normal conditions. It is also better to use automated testing tools in these cases.
- Performance testing. This testing type evaluates the application’s scalability, speed and stability characteristics. It can be done more efficiently with automation.
- Repeated execution. This type of test considers the repetition of tasks, and it is better to run automated tests in these cases.
WHEN TO USE MANUAL TESTING OVER AUTOMATION TESTING
The manual vs. automation testing discussion also defines a few types of tests that only humans can run, including exploratory testing, user interface testing and ad hoc testing. Also, we can define a list of scenarios when manual testing can be more efficient for the general process, such as:
- When you require flexibility. We mentioned that manual testing could be less accurate, but it also allows testers to be more flexible in operations.
- When you have a short-term project. If you need to run a test for a short-time project, it would be cheaper to do it manually.
- When you need to test usability. Automated testing will not evaluate the usability of the products, as that is possible only with human testing. Computers can not provide the type of feedback that humans can do.
SO HOW DOES AUTOMATED SOFTWARE TESTING WORK?
- Most basic of all auto-tests are unit-tests, which are small tests that check functions on the atomic level. For unit tests we have several testing frameworks and libraries, like JUnit, TestNG, nUnit, PHPUnit, Winsdor, and lots others.
- Having covered major modules by unit tests, we need to check the interaction of these modules with integration tests. These tests are usually written by developers with such frameworks as Fit or Citrus, though a number of integration tests are based on unit-test frameworks.
- Last but not least come user interface (UI) tests, which simulate user behavior and check the scenarios most likely to occur during the usage. We use tools like Selenium, CubicTests and WinRunner for UI tests, which are usually written by test engineers to reflect typical user scenarios.
AUTOMATION TESTING APPROACH
Selecting the right automation tool is essential, but it is not everything. Do not forget that only a good manual test case brings real value. If manual test cases are already created, explore them to expand the scope.
You cannot automate all at once. The order for automation can be:
- smoke tests
- acceptance test
- frequently performed tests
- time taking tests
TEST AUTOMATION TOOLS SELECTION
Selecting a tool for your testing automation is a very significant step. If the tool features all the needed functionality, automation can be performed with less effort. Let’s list the main points in automation tool selection:
- The budget is a decisive factor. There is no sense in researching and proposing tools to a client if their cost exceeds the client’s budget.
- Automation tool’s hidden costs: sometimes developers have to pay for add-ons, the support fee, the training fee and the upgrade fee.
- Compatibility with the platform you develop for: if you build an application for iOS and Android, use automation tools that support both of them.
- Support of technologies and 3rd party controls. List technologies used in your project and check the tools against these technologies’ support.
- Languages: be sure the tool allows writing tests in a language familiar to the developers involved.
HOW AUTOMATION TESTING CAN HELP LAUNCH THE PRODUCT FASTER: CASE STUDY
One of the cases illustrating the benefits of manual testing vs. automation testing usage is our collaboration with Mulesoft for accelerating time-to-market with QA automation. The company needed to reduce the product’s launch time, which became possible by strengthening the team with remote testing specialists.
Cprime had launched an agile transformation for the development process. We also found such challenges as a waterfall-like collaboration between the development and QA teams and many manual testing tasks. The solution for those challenges was to run QA automation to manage the speed of releasing new products.
Automation allowed us to reduce time-to-market from several months to two weeks. Also, the feedback from the market became more insightful and came faster to our client. This case is an excellent example of how QA automation can efficiently solve problems.
Manual vs. automation testing can serve various purposes and can be applied to different types of testing. To choose the best option, you need to learn the specificity of each type.
This article described the difference between automated testing and manual testing and outlined when to use each one. Manual testing can still be helpful in some cases, although QA automation helps you deal with multiple problems solving them faster and with the costs economy.
If you doubt whether you require to change your quality assurance processes for better results, our consultants will gladly help you. Contact our team at email@example.com for more information.