Manual vs. Automated Testing
Manual vs. Automated Testing
Manual vs. Automated Testing
Manual vs. Automated Testing
Iryna Velychko

Iryna Velychko

QA Engeneer

Jun 19, 2024

8 min read

In this article, we’re going to explore two crucial software testing approaches: manual testing and automated testing. Understanding the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of each method is essential for choosing the right strategy for your project.

We'll dive deep into several aspects of both testing types, including:

  • Accuracy

  • Cost efficiency

  • Reliability

  • Test coverage

  • Scalability

  • Test cycle time

  • User experience

  • Required skills and resources

We are also going to look at the key characteristics, pros and cons, and when manual and automated testing.

By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of when to use manual testing, when to opt for automated testing, and how to balance the two effectively.

Overview of Manual and Automated Testing

Before we get into the detailed comparison, let's briefly define each testing type.

Manual Testing

Manual testing involves human testers who execute test cases without the assistance of tools or scripts. This method is flexible and human-centric, making it ideal for tests that require human judgment and intuition.

Automated Testing

Automated testing uses scripts and tools to perform tests. This method is efficient for repetitive tasks and offers high accuracy for predefined scenarios. It’s best suited for large-scale and frequent test cases.

Key Differences Between Manual Testing and Automated Testing

Although the fundamental difference between manual and automated testing is straightforward, there are several ways to break those differences down.

Key Characteristics of Manual Testing

The key characteristics of manual testing include:

  1. Flexible: Manual testers can dynamically change their approach as a software product changes. They can perform random testing and seek out bugs that are not already outlined in test cases.

  2. Human-centric: Manual testing uses human testers who rely on their intuition. Like end-users, they can use their discretion to explore different features. Testing results will vary depending on the expertise and motivation of each tester.

  3. Responsive: Exploratory manual testing can provide critical feedback in the first stages of the software development life cycle. The earlier testers identify bugs, the easier it is for the development team to fix them.

Key Characteristics of Automated Testing

The key characteristics of automated testing include:

  1. Objective: Automated testing does not deviate from test scripts. There is no danger of human error or bias interfering with results as long as test cases are well-written.

  2. Repeatable: You can reuse automated test scripts as necessary, saving valuable time. This is particularly useful for scenarios with repetitive tasks, such as regression testing.

  3. Scalable: Automated tests are easy to scale. Testers can expand or iterate on them as features change or a system becomes more complex.

Pros and Cons of Manual Testing vs. Automated Testing

In the table below, you’ll find a helpful run-down of the pros and cons of manual and automated testing:

When to Use Manual vs. Automated Testing

Both manual and automated testing have their strengths and weaknesses. When deciding to automate test cases or not, there are various factors to consider including:

  • Testing schedule: Shorter testing timelines may mean you have less time to write and test automated test scripts, or vice versa, which may limit the time you have to conduct exploratory and user acceptance tests (typically done manually).

  • Budget constraints: Automated software testing tools can be expensive to establish and maintain and require individuals on your team with certain expertise. On the other hand, depending on the scope of testing required, you may be limited by headcount.

  • Team resources: The size and expertise of your team may favor one type of testing.

  • Specific project requirements: Reviewing requirements can help to determine whether you need functional, non-functional testing, or a mix of both.

  • Specific industry guidelines: Test engineers may need to design cases that meet specific standards, such as certain FDA regulations, that may require human verification and thus cannot be automated.

Considerations for Different Types of Testing

It’s equally important to consider how different testing methods work in practice. Load testing a mobile game, for example, is faster with automated tools than manual testing.

Here are examples of testing methodologies and their optimal testing types:

Determining the Appropriate Balance Between Manual and Automated Testing

Leveraging elements of both manual and automated testing is crucial to achieving specific test goals, such as quality and reliability.

If the satisfaction of the end-user is your goal, automated testing cannot fully replace manual testing. While automation tools offer consistency and excellent test coverage, manual testing is essential for ensuring a good user experience.

Manual testing provides:

  • A way to simulate the experience of the user

  • Flexibility and adaptability

  • A quick way to identify overall usability

Automated testing provides:

  • Repeatable, accurate results

  • Centralized control over testing data

  • The ability to repeat and scale test cases

You can combine manual and automated testing in most test plans. For example, imagine you are setting up accessibility testing for a web app geared towards children. You know that the application must adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). To ensure compliance, you use automated testing tools for their accuracy and consistency.

Now that the app meets the WCAG guidelines, you want to make sure it’s user-friendly. Your manual testers then use popular assistive technologies to interact with the app. These are the same tools, such as screen readers and voice recognition software, that your target audience may rely on.

As a final step, your manual testers verify that your automated test results have no false positives or negatives. In this example, automated and manual testing work together to attain thorough test coverage.

If you want to improve the quality of your product, bring in experts with over 10 years of QA experience and start testing now! Reach out through our form!

Strategies for Integrating Manual and Automated Testing Effectively

It should be evident to you by now that a hybrid testing approach is highly effective. Let’s look at some strategies you can use to combine the two methods in practice:

  • Plan ahead: Decide which scenarios require each type of testing. Consider the gaps in coverage left by one testing type and how the other can fill them.

  • Start small: If you’re used to test automation tools like Selenium, start with a limited number of manual test cases. Reflect on how manual testing impacted your results.

  • Encourage communication: Manual and automated testers should work together to identify testing bottlenecks and brainstorm solutions. This reinforces the DevOps principle of collaboration.

When using hybrid testing, flexibility is key. Certain scenarios, like regression testing, favor one testing type over another. However, you can often find ways to incorporate elements of manual testing into a test approach that is mostly automated and vice versa.

Conclusion

Both manual and automated testing have their distinct advantages and limitations. Manual testing is crucial for tasks that demand a nuanced understanding of user experience, usability, and the unique insights that only a human tester can provide. It is particularly effective for exploratory testing, usability assessments, and scenarios where human judgment is crucial.

Automated testing, on the other hand, excels in efficiency, repeatability, and scalability, making it a valuable tool for large-scale, repetitive tasks. However, it often falls short in areas requiring human intuition, flexibility, and in-depth exploration.

A hybrid approach to testing is the one that will provide the most meaningful test results. However, remember, that manual testing can go without automated testing but it’s best to avoid automating your entire quality assurance strategy.

In this article, we’re going to explore two crucial software testing approaches: manual testing and automated testing. Understanding the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of each method is essential for choosing the right strategy for your project.

We'll dive deep into several aspects of both testing types, including:

  • Accuracy

  • Cost efficiency

  • Reliability

  • Test coverage

  • Scalability

  • Test cycle time

  • User experience

  • Required skills and resources

We are also going to look at the key characteristics, pros and cons, and when manual and automated testing.

By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of when to use manual testing, when to opt for automated testing, and how to balance the two effectively.

Overview of Manual and Automated Testing

Before we get into the detailed comparison, let's briefly define each testing type.

Manual Testing

Manual testing involves human testers who execute test cases without the assistance of tools or scripts. This method is flexible and human-centric, making it ideal for tests that require human judgment and intuition.

Automated Testing

Automated testing uses scripts and tools to perform tests. This method is efficient for repetitive tasks and offers high accuracy for predefined scenarios. It’s best suited for large-scale and frequent test cases.

Key Differences Between Manual Testing and Automated Testing

Although the fundamental difference between manual and automated testing is straightforward, there are several ways to break those differences down.

Key Characteristics of Manual Testing

The key characteristics of manual testing include:

  1. Flexible: Manual testers can dynamically change their approach as a software product changes. They can perform random testing and seek out bugs that are not already outlined in test cases.

  2. Human-centric: Manual testing uses human testers who rely on their intuition. Like end-users, they can use their discretion to explore different features. Testing results will vary depending on the expertise and motivation of each tester.

  3. Responsive: Exploratory manual testing can provide critical feedback in the first stages of the software development life cycle. The earlier testers identify bugs, the easier it is for the development team to fix them.

Key Characteristics of Automated Testing

The key characteristics of automated testing include:

  1. Objective: Automated testing does not deviate from test scripts. There is no danger of human error or bias interfering with results as long as test cases are well-written.

  2. Repeatable: You can reuse automated test scripts as necessary, saving valuable time. This is particularly useful for scenarios with repetitive tasks, such as regression testing.

  3. Scalable: Automated tests are easy to scale. Testers can expand or iterate on them as features change or a system becomes more complex.

Pros and Cons of Manual Testing vs. Automated Testing

In the table below, you’ll find a helpful run-down of the pros and cons of manual and automated testing:

When to Use Manual vs. Automated Testing

Both manual and automated testing have their strengths and weaknesses. When deciding to automate test cases or not, there are various factors to consider including:

  • Testing schedule: Shorter testing timelines may mean you have less time to write and test automated test scripts, or vice versa, which may limit the time you have to conduct exploratory and user acceptance tests (typically done manually).

  • Budget constraints: Automated software testing tools can be expensive to establish and maintain and require individuals on your team with certain expertise. On the other hand, depending on the scope of testing required, you may be limited by headcount.

  • Team resources: The size and expertise of your team may favor one type of testing.

  • Specific project requirements: Reviewing requirements can help to determine whether you need functional, non-functional testing, or a mix of both.

  • Specific industry guidelines: Test engineers may need to design cases that meet specific standards, such as certain FDA regulations, that may require human verification and thus cannot be automated.

Considerations for Different Types of Testing

It’s equally important to consider how different testing methods work in practice. Load testing a mobile game, for example, is faster with automated tools than manual testing.

Here are examples of testing methodologies and their optimal testing types:

Determining the Appropriate Balance Between Manual and Automated Testing

Leveraging elements of both manual and automated testing is crucial to achieving specific test goals, such as quality and reliability.

If the satisfaction of the end-user is your goal, automated testing cannot fully replace manual testing. While automation tools offer consistency and excellent test coverage, manual testing is essential for ensuring a good user experience.

Manual testing provides:

  • A way to simulate the experience of the user

  • Flexibility and adaptability

  • A quick way to identify overall usability

Automated testing provides:

  • Repeatable, accurate results

  • Centralized control over testing data

  • The ability to repeat and scale test cases

You can combine manual and automated testing in most test plans. For example, imagine you are setting up accessibility testing for a web app geared towards children. You know that the application must adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). To ensure compliance, you use automated testing tools for their accuracy and consistency.

Now that the app meets the WCAG guidelines, you want to make sure it’s user-friendly. Your manual testers then use popular assistive technologies to interact with the app. These are the same tools, such as screen readers and voice recognition software, that your target audience may rely on.

As a final step, your manual testers verify that your automated test results have no false positives or negatives. In this example, automated and manual testing work together to attain thorough test coverage.

If you want to improve the quality of your product, bring in experts with over 10 years of QA experience and start testing now! Reach out through our form!

Strategies for Integrating Manual and Automated Testing Effectively

It should be evident to you by now that a hybrid testing approach is highly effective. Let’s look at some strategies you can use to combine the two methods in practice:

  • Plan ahead: Decide which scenarios require each type of testing. Consider the gaps in coverage left by one testing type and how the other can fill them.

  • Start small: If you’re used to test automation tools like Selenium, start with a limited number of manual test cases. Reflect on how manual testing impacted your results.

  • Encourage communication: Manual and automated testers should work together to identify testing bottlenecks and brainstorm solutions. This reinforces the DevOps principle of collaboration.

When using hybrid testing, flexibility is key. Certain scenarios, like regression testing, favor one testing type over another. However, you can often find ways to incorporate elements of manual testing into a test approach that is mostly automated and vice versa.

Conclusion

Both manual and automated testing have their distinct advantages and limitations. Manual testing is crucial for tasks that demand a nuanced understanding of user experience, usability, and the unique insights that only a human tester can provide. It is particularly effective for exploratory testing, usability assessments, and scenarios where human judgment is crucial.

Automated testing, on the other hand, excels in efficiency, repeatability, and scalability, making it a valuable tool for large-scale, repetitive tasks. However, it often falls short in areas requiring human intuition, flexibility, and in-depth exploration.

A hybrid approach to testing is the one that will provide the most meaningful test results. However, remember, that manual testing can go without automated testing but it’s best to avoid automating your entire quality assurance strategy.

Iryna Velychko
Iryna Velychko

Iryna Velychko

QA Specialist

Jun 19, 2024

8 min read

Manual vs. Automated Testing
Manual vs. Automated Testing

Ralfs J. Gaigulis

Ralfs J. Gaigulis

COO at HiQality

COO at HiQality

Are you considering introducing or improving QA practices in your operations? Make sure you get it right with our team of QA experts by your side. Reach out for a free consultation by using the contact form below!

Are you considering introducing or improving QA practices in your operations? Make sure you get it right with our team of QA experts by your side. Reach out for a free consultation by using the contact form below!

Interested in manual QA?
Let us know!

Interested in manual QA?
Let us know!

Interested in manual QA?
Let us know!

Interested in manual QA?
Let us know!

Interested in manual QA?
Let us know!

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