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Automated Testing vs Manual Testing: Which Should You Use and When?

Software Testing has seen a renewed focus in recent times as the demand for faster delivery of applications is on a steep rise. As businesses are completely wired, software which is at the core of it has achieved an epic prominence without which businesses find it hard to operate in this digital era. The software development life cycle is under closer scrutiny than ever; every phase of the app development and delivery is looked upon for improvement, optimization and speediness.

Among the many phases involved in the process, in this article, let’s see how testing is playing a crucial role and what type you should consider – automated testing or manual testing, for your testing needs.

Software testing is done to ensure a defect-free application while meeting all the requirements in terms of quality, functionalities and performance as laid in the SLA. However, as the testing parameters get complex and varied day by day due to the prevalence of a number of delivery methods, channels and client endpoints, software testing gets tougher and challenging.

On the other hand, project requirements, budget, costs, quality, suitability and timeline also influence the testing process. Accurately deciding the testing option, whether Manual or Automated, is easier said than done as they come with their own advantages and disadvantages. A deeper knowledge of knowing both these categories is worth an effort.

Manual Testing:

As the name suggests, in manual testing, test cases are executed manually without any support from tools or scripts. It is a process in which the software features and functionalities are tried as an end user to find whether it meets the goals. Generally, the process of manual testing involves understanding the requirements, define what to test / what not to, when to classify as a defect, then writing the test scenarios, test cases and test data, conducting actual tests, logging/reporting bugs and finally documenting the test results.

Manual Testing advocates have long time argued that when humans are the ultimate users of software, they should be given the first choice to test the software. Although it needs considerable time and efforts, manual testing is necessary to ensure a good user experience and a high level of quality. Moreover, a human eye is always going to find things which may be missed in an automated test.

Some of the best suited testing categories for manual testing include Exploratory Testing, where the tester’s need to exhibit their knowledge, creativity, experience and intuition as the test is characterized by poorly written product specification documentation; Usability Testing, where human observation is crucial; Ad-hoc Testing, where there is no strategy or a well-laid plan and insight of the tester alone matters.

On the flip side, Manual Testing is tedious, time-consuming, error prone and may not be suited for test cases that have frequent repetition. Even in an Agile Environment, Manual Testing may not be of much of a help.

Let’s now see the growing popularity and the need for Automated Testing.

Automation testing is executed with the help of software tools, scripts and is performed by repeating pre-defined actions. The main draw is that it is more reliable with high degree of accuracy compared to manual testing. Moreover you can execute your test cases significantly faster as it allows multiple tests to be run in parallel, made possible by distributing test cases across different machines. In comparison, manual testing has to be done sequentially, one test at a time.

Furthermore, automated testing is the most preferred choice for big projects that adopts Agile Development, which involves significant regression, load and performance testing or any repeated execution. As Regression Testing involves timely regressions after frequent code changes, automated testing is well suited. Similarly, for repeated execution, it is an ideal choice. Even in the cases of Load testing and Performance testing, both demanding extensive testing based on various parameters and simulations scenarios, automated testing is the most opted one.

Today, there are many popular Testing Automation Tools and Scripts including:

1. Selenium

2. TestComplete

3. HP QTP/UFT

4. Testim.io

5. HP Quality Center (HP ALM)

6. Test Studio

7. Katalon Studio

8. IBM Rational Functional Tester

9. Ranorex

10. Appium

11. Robotium

12. Cucumber

13. EggPlant

14. SilkTest

15. Watir

16. Sauce labs

17. Sahi Pro

18. Sikuli

19. IBM Performance Tester

20. Apache JMeter

21. BlazeMeter

22. HP LoadRunner

When it comes to the downside of Automated testing, one need to consider the sizeable investment involved in acquiring talent and tools or developing the test code. Another drawback is that unlike manual testing, there is little scope for human observation or intervention. It is also given that while automated testing is more efficient, developers at times find the need to execute manual testing in order to meet specific consumer needs.

Whether manual testing or automated testing, the success of your testing process mainly depends on your ability to judge which testing method is best suited for your project. By thoroughly analyzing the pros and cons of both the testing methods, you may decide which one to adopt in your quest to develop the best software that serves the purpose and satisfies the end-users.

Ragul Deep - software testing engineer

Contributed by:

Ragul Deep
Software Testing Engineer

There is 1 comment
  1. Harald Sundal

    While this article brings up many valid points it leaves out a considerable amount as well.
    Automated testing is code, many times written by developer. Is he or she testing the code or testing how user would interact?

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