Manual vs Automated – Knowing When to Do What

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Manual vs Automated – Knowing When to Do What

Manual vs Automated Testing

Understanding when to deploy manual or automated testing is an age-old dilemma QA consulting companies from the world over go through regularly. And the answer can only be sought after several factors that determine the outcome of software testing are taken into account. With the rise in automated tools in the market, the case can be made for automated testing where their unequivocal use seems more appealing than ever. After all, these automated tools promise affordability, ease of use, and greater test coverage too.

So while testers all over shift towards automated testing mechanisms, we’ve tabled a handy guide for you below to help you determine which type of testing suits your requirements the best.

#1. On what frequency are you planning to run a test suite?

If the answer to this is “a lot”, then your answer is simpler than you’d think. Automation testing is the way to go for you. Automation can also give you a great ROI (return on investment) too. When considering automation testing, repeatability is not a time-consuming activity.

#2. How many test cases are you considering testing?

Another important factor you might want to consider is the number of test cases present under a specific test suite. In general, the rule of thumb is the following: the number of test cases justifies the usage of automation tools. If you’ve got a dozen or so test cases on hand, automation might not be the smartest option despite the times they are going to be tested. Consequently, if the number of test cases is higher, and you’re planning on running all of them more than once, automation testing can provide you with better results. 

#3. Is it a high-priority feature?

There are always higher risks of failure with some features in software than others. It’s always best to go with automation testing in cases where high-priority features are to be testing as there’s always a chance of them being missed out on completely with manual testing. Also, you have the obvious advantage of the tests being run in the same way in automated testing, which eliminates chances of human-induced errors.

#4. Will the test cases be run in a predetermined order?

Some features need to be tested before the others. There are instances when a predetermined order has got to be followed while testing the test cases. Achieving this will be cumbersome and time-consuming in manual testing since the testers are either required to recollect the order, or ask an external source to understand the order. But with automated testing, the scripts are often timed and ordered to execute as per our needs.

#5. Do test cases require constant updates?

If the test suit is going to be frequently updated, then automating it’s going to need to tend a reconsideration because changing the automated script of the test suit is time-consuming and defeats the aim of automating it.

But with a keyword-driven or data-driven framework, maintaining and changing scripts is simpler. So when you’re automating these functionalities, select a framework that eases maintainability. Also, most automated testing framework support reusability ensuring that there’s no got to constantly rewrite test cases to check equivalent functionalities.

#6. Are test cases being planned to be run simultaneously?

When your testing demands that you run an equivalent set of test cases simultaneously on one machine, then you would ideally like to use automation testing. With manual testing, you can’t type equivalent test cases to run exactly at an equivalent time on several machines. However, with automation testing, you’ll schedule the scripts in order that the test cases are executed exactly at an equivalent time on more than one machine.

#7. Is a single functionality being tested with multiple data sets?

Is there a requirement to run an equivalent test suit with multiple data? Then data-driven automation testing framework must be deployed to minimize effort and time spent in each test suite All the corresponding data is fed from an external source (e.g. Excel) to every test suit, thus ensuring that larger data coverage for one test suit is feasible. If you go the direction of manual testing during this scenario, not only will your test team grow bored of testing an equivalent functionality, but the chances of missing one or two data sets is higher.

#8. Is it a Regression/Smoke Test Suite?

The regression test suite consists of a specific number of test cases, which require to be tested after every defect fix cycle. Regression testing aims to make sure that no new defects are introduced within the functionalities that were previously working. Sanity testing is run at the beginning of each test cycle and aims at ensuring that the essential functionalities of software work as needed.

If it’s a regression/sanity suite that you simply are looking to check, then automation testing is your safe bet. Reasons are simple:

  • These regression/sanity test cases never/rarely change.
  • The regression/sanity test suite consists of a good number of test cases.
  • These regression/sanity test cases are required to be run after each round of the latest functionality testing (repeatedly).

Report Generation

With the current crop of leading automation software, the reports of the testing activity are generated automatically once the testing cycle is completed. This eases the work of identifying defects and empowers the test team to form a choice with reference to the reliability of the software. Since the test log is quickly available go-live decision is often taken quickly and efficiently.

The Feasibility of Automation Testing

Most automation testing tools are now developed in a way that permits the tester to check any single functionality right from the presence of a button to the absence of a text field or image. However, some steps can’t be automated regardless of which automation framework you select. It is also true that in some cases, the selected automation framework doesn’t support the type of testing you’re expecting it to perform.

So, it’s imperative that you perform a feasibility study of the automation framework in conjunction with the test cases you’re looking to automate.

Random Negative Testing

Also, with manual testing, random negative testing may be a possibility but with automated testing, it’s impossible. So when it’s merely testing of an interface, its user-friendliness and navigation among sites, manual testing is often chosen.

Accounting for the Expertise of Your Test Team

Even if answers to the aforementioned question point at automation testing, the very fact is you would like the resources to implement it successfully. With manual testing, limited technical knowledge suffices, but when automation testing is taken into account, an expert test team within the chosen framework and language is certainly needed. If you’ve got a test team that’s capable of handling the challenges of automating the test suite, then automation may be a fair idea.

The simple incontrovertible fact that automated testing is quicker, more flexible, and offers wider coverage with less effort definitely gives it a leg up compared to straightforward and legacy manual testing.

Despite the very fact that the answers to the above question may help QA consulting companies choose the appropriate type of testing, one must make a choice that is supported by experience, sense, and available expertise.

About The Author

Syed Ramish Hassan has been an active member in the marketing and SEO landscape for over 7 years. With a degree in film-making, he has been a part of numerous stage productions and has lent his word to some of the industry's leading IT and technology firms. He fervently enjoys researching and writing which have helped sharpen his skills as an author.

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