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Striking A Perfect Balance with Manual and Automatic Testing


The software testing fraternity has always been greatly fascinated with test automation. Their fascination has expanded its self to an extent where you think of it like magic, which can fix all their software issues or simply like a golden nugget which will get their client super satisfied. In reality, the situation is a bit different than how easy breezy it might seem. It is to be rightly understood that manual and automatic testing are two sides of a coin. The testing team which tosses a coin to balance it on edge would turn out victorious.

Before one can achieve that much-desired balance between software and manual testing, the gist of both these celestial bodies of the testing universe needs to be understood.

The right perspective

Let’s get into a discussion where we count and analyze the two sides of the seesaw. On one side there is automated testing which reduces the human workload and shortens your time to market, they are the supreme input and highly valuable human perspective which would take the quality of the user experience to another level.

If you talk about automated testing, it is generally seen as a power battery which was once clicked would set the whole application software bug free. But it is not the case. It has to be rightly understood the part and the test suite which can appropriately be planned for automated testing. One can write automated testing scripts and run them alongside the code of the application, but that would not solve the ultimate problem. It can help you test the mechanical use cases thoroughly, but it won’t be able to add a human touch and quick feedback to eat.

An automated test plan can rightly tell you where your software shows a glitch, but it will check the use cases under specific scenarios. And those scenarios are self-confined into human generated situations and boundaries for test input values. What is that the test team leader could not figure out some of the most critical test cases?

The real consequences would be that a test report is generated for all the services and subsystems of the software and a specific class of test cases remains untouched throughout.

You may like to watch a video on Manual Testing vs Automated Testing with example

How to strike the balance note?

As we discussed earlier, striking the right balance would happen only when we do automated or manual testing with their pros and cons on the side of the weighing machine each.

To understand the kind of approach to be followed while making your checklist to automate the test, one need to carefully analyze the field of effect of a particular use case and the test plan for it. If the test affects a broad base of your users or a certain set of functionalities, the right update to be automated as the risk of failure brings an adverse effect for a small fraction of users among all.

To summarize this broadly, automation should be applied in test cases which need to be executed in bulk that would consume invaluable time. These are precisely the patches and features which need to be checked manually. Resting the manually would not only ensure their total integration within the system but also help you analyze the kinds of test failures which are most likely to occur once automated.

So it is like a game of a sensible mind for all automate or manual testing services providers to first analyze what is there to be automated and what needs human attention through manual testing.

Just go through a PowerPoint Presentation on it by QA Source

When to apply manual and automated testing?

While at present, you may think like automation is conquering everything on its way, but when it comes to test management, manual testing cannot be ignored. Moreover, QA teams find manual testing more beneficial in some cases as they use it is some aspects of a project. The only issue faced by the companies is to decide and understand which method will work the best at situation.

Here we got some situations where quality analyst teams should rely on manual testing instead of automation-

1. When flexibility is required

There are times when you just find that manual testing is not as precise as automation, still manual processes offer extra flexibility to the testers for their operations. Testers use automation for repeated cases, which means that the same code and scripts will be accessed and used every time. If testers decide to work with automation, they need to establish test cases, program them with the automation tool and run the test. This entire process is time consuming.

With manual testing, testers can just quickly test and get the output.

2. Short term projects

Automation needs more planning and investment and both the things are too much for short-term projects. In other words, it doesn’t make sense to use automation testing for short term projects due to costing.

In such scenario, manual testing just works best. Small projects with minor feature set require less or no code and thus, manual testers can do their job well.

3. When it is about testing the usability

The success or failure of the applications is majorly decided by its usability. And to check the usability, testers need manual testing. Automated tests can never ensure zero-defects because computers don’t have their original mind- they are programmed to run certain actions and cannot provide the type of feedback that manual testers can provide when using an app.

For instance, automated tests can easily detect errors in the code, but it won’t explain how users would interact with the app features and how will they navigate the program.

Pros and cons of Manual and Automated tests

Manual Testing – As you know, manual testing is different from automated testing and sharing different pros and cons with the user. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of manual testing first-

Pros -

  • Get fast and precise visual feedback with manual testing
  • Manual testing requires less budget since there are no automation tools required
  • Human ability to judge better using intuitive mind benefits the manual testing
  • Manual testing is an answer to testing of small changes because automation would require coding and this will be a time consuming thing.

Cons –

  • At times, the results are not reliable when manual testing is done. There are chances of mistakes and errors.
  • There is no record for manual tests. Testers cannot reuse the manual test

Automated testing – Testing with computers helps in long term projects. Let’s learn when and when not to use automated testing –

Pros -

  • It helps in finding more bugs
  • It offers speedy and efficient process
  • Automation testing can be recorded. This makes you to reuse and run the same type of testing operations
  • Software tools are there to assist in automated testing
  • Productivity can be increased with fast and precise testing result
  • Automated testing support several apps

Cons –

  • No insight into visual aspects of user interface like font, background, color, and tab sizes, etc.
  • Expensive tools which affect the cost of testing project
  • Automation doesn’t guarantee flawlessness.
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