QA tester

Automation Testing Versus Manual Testing: When to Use Each

Software development goes through six main stages, otherwise known as the software development lifecycle. They are planning, design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance. After development, the next phase involving quality assurance and testing is crucial to the success of the software. Proper QA testing identifies redundancies, inconsistencies, bugs, and defects in a newly developed product. Without this process, there’s no way to find out the ability of the product to survive in the real world and to work as intended for many years. 

Still, there have been instances when developers have either ignored this step or done it poorly for reasons such as cutting costs or beating a deadline. They have chosen to go straight to deployment, with grave consequences. For example, the Nest Learning Thermostat by Google experienced a software bug that drained the device’s battery. As a result, people who had installed the device in their houses were unable to heat them. Nest declared that the issue was in the firmware update, incompatible boilers, and older air filters and released a new update that solved the issue for its 99.95% of affected users. 

Another case is that of Cloudflare. In 2017, the web security company suffered a major software bug, dubbed Cloudbleed, that led to the leakage of sensitive personal information such as authentication tokens, passwords, private messages, and cookies from customers’ sites. Though the most severe issues were cleared up in hours, it took six days for the company to completely repair the bug. However, it is suspected that the breach could have started five months before.

These two cases show that poor/ inadequate software testing is not only costly and time-consuming in the long run but also can damage a company’s reputation among customers. But before you decide to do QA and testing, let’s have a look at the difference between manual and automation QA. 

Key Differences Between Manual and Automation Testing

Software testing is a broad aspect that can be categorized into two types. These are manual testing and automated testing. Manual testing, as the name suggests, is done by hand. The testers act as the end-users of the product and check that all the features and functionalities are working as intended before the software is released. As the testers check for defects manually, they don’t need to know how to use testing tools. On the other hand, the testers are expected to report on any discrepancies or errors for the developers to be able to fix them. 

Automation testing uses a set of testing tools or a pre-scripted framework to perform tests. It compares the collected results to the expected behaviour of the product and creates a report. Automation eliminates the need for a manual tester, especially in a regression test. 

Here is a table highlighting further differences between manual and automation testing. Use it for better understanding and orientation within the peculiarities of each kind.

VariableManual Automation
Turnaround Longer turnaround time as the tester has to assess each feature for defects manually. Lower turnaround as it utilizes computer tools to do the job. 
PrecisionLess accurate because of the possibility of human errors. More reliable results because it is performed by computer programs.
Initial capital Initially, investment is lower than in automation. Automation testing is costly at the beginning of setting up the infrastructure.
Cost-effectivenessCost-effective for low volume regression. Cost-effective for high volume regression testing.
ROILower return on investment in the long-term.Higher ROI in the long-run as costs go down once the infrastructure is in place. 
Timeline fulfilmentThere exists a possibility to miss the stipulated deadline. Has no risk of missing the stated deadline. 
FrameworksManual testing doesn’t use frameworks. However, it may use checklists and guidelines. Uses frameworks such as Hybrid and Data Drive. 
Required skillsTesters should be able to copy user behaviour and create test plans that examine all possibilities.  Should staff software team with QA talent to create test cases and automate as many events as possible.
User experienceEnsures quality user experience as it involves human observation.It can’t promise great user experience as the programs don’t own the cognitive qualities that humans have. 


Projects That Can Do with Manual QA Only

Manual QA works best for projects that require cognitive and behavioural capabilities during the testing of the software. The issues that can be tested include:

  • The functionality of an app
  • User interface
  • Site and application activity
  • Features
  • User acceptance 
  • User experience. 

These are the projects that can do with the manual type of testing only. Consequently, manual QA should be exclusively used in the following cases:

  • Exploratory testing: Domain professionals predominantly implement it. They conduct their tests by examining the functionalities of a particular app without possessing the proper knowledge of the requirements. 
  • Usability testing: It is used for gauging if an app is user-friendly or comfortable for the end-user. Determining whether the end-user can comprehend and operate the application is the principal purpose of this testing. 
  • Ad-hoc testing: It is whereby testers try out an app at random without complying with any testing techniques or specifications in relevant documents. Ad-hoc testing is often conducted when the testers` knowledge regarding the subject app is excellent. 

Staff Augmentation versus Turnkey Project Delivery

Projects That Only Need Test Automation to Succeed

Sometimes, it is test automation that should be applied to achieve the best results. Automation testing is ideal for assessing things such as:

  • Object information
  • Function library
  • Test data source
  • Various reusable models. 

What are the cases in which this type of testing will work better than a manual one? Let`s observe these scenarios:

  • Regression testing: It refers to the subsequent examination of a program that has been tested before and then modified accordingly. The purpose is to identify any problems that have come up due to the modifications or any other reason. Regular code changes make automated testing necessary in this case to ensure that regressions are run on time. 
  • Load testing: The goal of this process is to confirm whether the subject app can manage the projected number of transactions and gauge its behaviour during peak and off-peak periods. 
  • Performance testing: It is used for understanding issues like the speed, scalability, and stability of a particular application. 

Final Thoughts

To conclude, it is essential to appreciate that there is a QA talent shortage across the planet. Luckily, by leveraging QA R&D outsourcing solutions, companies can address the issue of scarce local talent by hiring offshore QA specialists. Things get even better since this model of cooperation is cost-effective. The reason is it often takes advantage of the disparity in salaries between the involved countries. 

Are you wondering about where to hire QA talent? Contact us for QA team outsourcing!


This article was originally published at HackerNoon!

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