Manual Testing vs. Automated QA: Differences and When to use
Software Testing is the process of checking, verifying, and validating the product's requirements throughout software development to provide quality products to customers and ensure the product's correct functionality before its release. Testing is a core aspect of any successful software project. Whether tests are automated or performed manually depends on project requirements, budget, timeline, expertise, and suitability. Time, cost, and quality are the three vital elements of any project. The goal of any successful project is to reduce the costs and time required for completion while maintaining quality output. Regarding testing, one type may accomplish this goal better than the other.
What Is Manual Testing?
In manual testing techniques, an engineer performs testing by describing scenarios and use cases manually, intending to find errors and functional discrepancies. A manual approach is most suitable for ad-hoc, usability, and exploratory testing. It is a rigorous and laborious process where the tester must be watchful, patient, theoretical, creative, speculative, innovative, and skillful.
When companies employ human resources to perform testing tasks, we can consider the testing as Manual. The testers' skills, knowledge, and experience are essential in Manual Testing.
Manual testing techniques are ideal for usability testing, as the success or failure of an app or website is based on the user's ability to use it efficiently. Automated testing tools can run a program to check for errors, but only manual testers can interpret how end users will communicate with a particular feature.
During exploratory testing, the tester focuses more on the execution, with little emphasis on planning. Manual testing allows the tester to create a test character and a set of goals and pick the right approach based on the severity of the use case. The tester is not necessarily required to document the test case, conditions, or scripts.
In ad-hoc testing, no specific structure exists to test the program. The tester breaks the entire process with the intent of finding possible errors. Ad-hoc is best applicable when the project is in the initial development stage. Manual testing can also be conducted when visual aspects are involved, or the test case is not automatable (for example, a captcha security check is implemented in the application).
Manual testing can be inaccurate due to human error; hence it is less reliable. It's time-consuming, takes up human resources, and is only cost-effective when the test cases are run once or twice, without frequent repetition. Manual testing relies on human observation, which may be especially valuable when user-friendliness or improved customer experience is achieved.
Top Manual Testing Tools
Manual testing tools can be instrumental in helping businesses optimize and streamline software testing workflows. Teams should select the tools that integrate best with their workflow, cover all use cases, and help speed up the organization's growth.
Jira is a bug-tracking tool development teams use to track and debug software issues, providing comprehensive tools to assign, prioritize, and review various tests.
Teams can follow the development of a particular issue, predict when the development team will resolve it, and get real-time project status reports using the functionalities included in JIRA tickets.
Jira offers administrators configurable permissions to provide differentiated access for specific users while simplifying development, aiding progress tracking, improving productivity, and ensuring no gaps exist in the system's security.
Bugzilla is a robust bug-tracking platform that allows development teams to track bugs and pending issues.
Its advanced systems help teams estimate the time needed to fix each bug while enabling them to create bug reports with numerous search criteria and filters. Bugzilla allows users to request code reviews, obtain information from a specific user, or get a sign-off from the administrator on a particular software release.
These features make Bugzilla the ideal manual testing tool for customized workflow management, bug visibility control, and email notifications.
While Selenium is an established automated testing suite, it is also one of the ideal manual testing tools for web applications. It provides robust features that assist in performing in-depth software testing for all web browsers.
The Selenium IDE can speed up development, create scripts for exploratory testing, perform administrative tasks, etc. Moreover, it comes with built-in support for breakpoints to allow effortless debugging.
What Is Automated Testing?
Automated testing is the usage of automation tools for executing test cases. With automation testing techniques, the testing engineer writes test scripts and uses automation software tools to test the application.
Test execution is done by computers, with more attention and less human effort. Automation delivers the most significant benefits with repetitive types of testing, such as regression, and saves massive amounts of time on each test execution. Excellent automation tools also provide comprehensive test reports.
Automated testing is recommended for test cases where repeated functional, regression testing, load testing, and performance testing are required.
It is helpful for testing environments that involve repetitive tasks or time-consuming efforts. Since automation eliminates the possibility of human error, it improves testing quality dramatically and catches bugs earlier in the life cycle.
Despite technological advancements, organizations still need help to keep pace with scalability when they are parallel testing. Sequential testing techniques to deliver quality assurance consume a lot of time, effort, and resources. Therefore, automation is the best solution when running the same test simultaneously in different environments.
Completing non-functional testing, such as performance or load, means the testers need to end up with measurable outputs – so subjective analysis (suitable or best) will not cut it. For that purpose, you need automation. To achieve high standards of non-functional testing, you need to employ a reliable automated tool that can perform all your testing needs without fail.
Automated testing is more reliable, as tools and scripts perform it. Software tools execute automated testing, so it is significantly faster than a manual approach.
While an initial investment is required for testing tools, automated testing is a valuable alternative when test case suites are run repeatedly over a long period. Automated testing does not involve human observation and cannot guarantee user-friendliness or a positive customer experience.
Manual testing has some limitations. QA teams often have to do repetitive testing, which can become tedious. Time constraint is one of the most important things about software release. When development teams complete the development process on time, the company can potentially retain customers.
Cost remains the major constraint for any software development process, and maintenance costs can be a significant issue for undetected defects; this is where automation tools come into the picture to conquer all the above problems.
Top Automated Testing Tools
Ideal for modern and agile testing teams, Testisgma is a comprehensive cloud-based automated testing platform, an AI-driven automation testing tool that employs simple English language for a web application, mobile application, and API testing.
Testsigma supports regression, cross-browser, continuous, and data-driven testing, helping QA Teams develop and execute test scripts across 800 browsers on Android and iOS devices and desktops.
Trusted by more than 500,000 people worldwide, LambdaTest is established as one of the best automation and manual testing tools. QA analysts can perform manual and automated cross-browser testing of publicly or locally hosted web apps on over 2,000 operating systems and browsers.
LamdaTest allows for seamless integration with the desired project management, pipeline, and bug-logging tools allowing teams to log bugs immediately as they occur during the testing process.
TestComplete is a comprehensive automation tool for testing mobile, desktop, and web applications. Its AI-powered suite provides unmatched script and scriptless flexibility, acting as a storehouse for more scalable and robust graphic user interface tests.
TestComplete can automate user interface testing across industry-standard desktop applications. One of the critical aspects of TestComplete for web applications is that it can reuse tests for frameworks like Angular and React.
It supports more than 2050 browsers. With TestComplete, you can design and automate UI tests on iOS and Android devices without jailbreaking the phone. It integrates with other tools, such as Jira, Jenkins, Azure DevOps, Git, etc.
The object recognition engine, powered by AI, helps you detect and correct potential bugs immediately.
When Should Organizations Use Manual vs. Automated Testing?
Manual testing and automated testing cover different aspects of software testing, with specific testing approaches available for each scenario. Some methods are better suited to manual testing, and some are best performed through automation.
Automation testing can perform many tests in a limited time frame using automated tools. In contrast, manual testing utilizes the knowledge and skills of the engineer to test the application.
For this reason, the latter is more time-consuming and prone to errors, whereas the former is faster and more accurate. Teams can use automation software to reduce effort and the possibility of human errors – which both lead to saving high costs.
Successive software development cycles require executing the same test code frequently. Automation tools make it possible to re-run large test suites as often as desired and almost instantly receive detailed feedback.
While automated testing is often the best course of action, manual testing is best suited for exploratory testing as it requires the tester's knowledge, experience, analytical/logical skills, creativity, and intuition.
These tests are characterized by scarcely written specification documentation and short execution times, requiring human skills to execute the testing process.
Another area where manual testing is recommended is Usability Testing, in which teams need to measure how user-friendly and convenient the software or product is for the end users.
Human observation is the most critical factor, making a manual approach more valuable. Finally, Ad-hoc Testing means there is no specific approach; it is an unplanned testing method where the tester's understanding and insight are the only important factors.
The main drawback of automation testing is that it's rather complex to build such tests, and it requires expensive automation engineers. Manual testing is tedious, time-consuming, inefficient in the long run, and costly to businesses when bugs slip into production. Automation is fast and efficient but is typically very complex and expensive to build.
Need help leveraging automation testing in your organization? Drop us a line and empower everyone in your team, from analysts to managers to engineers, to create automation tests and spend less time doing so.