Automation Vs. Manual Testing: Which Should You Choose?

Our expert delves into the differences between automated and manual testing in software QA.

Written by Harsh Vijay
Published on Feb. 29, 2024
Automation Vs. Manual Testing: Which Should You Choose?
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A systematic software development pivots on the right mix of manual and automated analysis methods. Manual testing gives detailed insights into customer experiences and quickly adjusts to new requirements. It is invaluable for tests that require user surveys.

In contrast, automated testing is known for its quickness and consistency. These key attributes aid in early fault detection and effective progression to market release. Yet, achieving total automation is still more aspirational than practical. This research from Bengaluru, India, points to the complexities in analyzing the actual advantages of automation.

Strategically choosing among the acuity of manual testing and the speed of automation can help enhance product quality, manage costs and ensure timely delivery. This guide shows how to use both testing methods well.

3 Things to Consider When Deciding Whether to Do Automated Testing

All of these significantly influence the actual profits realized from automation efforts.

  • The breadth of examination scope.
  • The skill set of the team.
  • The selection of tests that are convenient for automation.

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Features, Benefits and Cons of Automation Testing

Automated testing uses specialized software to carry out predefined test cases. It handles repetitive tasks and runs the same tests repeatedly, unlike manual testing, where a person conducts the tests.

You prepare scripts in advance for these tests. These scripts log outcomes and compare them to expected results. Your goal is to improve the testing workflow, ensuring it’s fast and accurate. Automated testing shows its value in large projects and CI/CD — or continuous integration and continuous delivery — pipelines. It provides consistent testing essential for maintaining software standards.


Key Features of Automation Testing

Automation testing changes how we handle software quality. It uses special tools for automatic tests, cutting down on manual work.

  • Reusable scripts: You can use the same scripts for different software versions, saving time and resources.
  • Uniform results: Automation gives consistent results, unlike the varying results from manual methods.
  • Faster testing: Automation completes tests much faster, speeding up the whole test cycle.
  • Constantly on: Automated tests can run all the time, boosting productivity and efficiency.
  • Seamless integration: Automated testing fits perfectly within continuous integration and deployment workflows, providing developers with instant feedback.
  • Wide test coverage: Automation can test many parts of an application in detail.


Advantages of Automation Testing

Automation testing streamlines the testing process.

  • Efficiency boost: Automation testing automates routine tasks, allowing testers to focus on more intricate work.
  • Result consistency: Ensures consistent outcomes and minimizes mistakes from manual intervention.
  • Test management: Manages extensive and complex test cases efficiently.
  • Cost savings: Cuts down on overall testing expenses after the initial setup.


Limitations of Automation Testing

Yet, automation testing comes with considerations that require attention.

  • Initial investment: It requires substantial upfront costs due to the need for tools and team training.
  • Ongoing maintenance: Maintaining test scripts is an ongoing task as software evolves.
  • Applicability limits: Its applicability has limitations, especially for tests that demand the discernment of a human, such as those assessing user experience.
  • Human dissertation: The success of automated testing hinges on the caliber of the scripts created.


Features, Benefits and Cons of Manual Testing

Manual testing involves human testers executing tests on software manually. Testers perform various actions on applications to check for defects and ensure functionality aligns with requirements — essential to understanding the user perspective. It allows testers to experience the application as end-users would and ensure software functionality.

Manual testing is critical for cases where human intuition and understanding are fundamental. It involves exploring various scenarios and checking the software’s behavior under different conditions. This hands-on approach assesses user interfaces and overall user experience. Despite advancements in automated testing, manual testing remains an integral part of quality assurance in software development.


Key Features of Manual Testing

Manual testing is characterized by its unique features, distinct from automated testing.

  • Direct user interaction: Testers interact with the software as end-users.
  • Intuitive assessment: Involves subjective judgment and perception during testing.
  • Minimal technical requirement: Requires less technical setup compared to automation.
  • Dynamic test case application: Adapts to changes in real-time during testing.
  • Detailed observational reporting: Offers nuanced insights based on tester observations.
  • Immediate feedback: Provides on-the-spot feedback without relying on scripted outcomes.


Advantages of Manual Testing

Advantages of manual testing include the following.

  • Unique human insight: Offers a deep understanding of user experience and interface, helping to develop intuitive software design.
  • Flexible testing: Adapts swiftly to changes in requirements or unexpected software behavior, allowing for a more responsive testing process.
  • Low initial financial outlay: Requires minimal investment in tools and infrastructure compared to automated testing setups. It is cost-effective for small projects.
  • Immediate problem identification: Enables quick detection of issues during the testing phase.


Limitations of Manual Testing

There are multiple limitations of manual testing that pose challenges in detecting defects and ensuring software quality.

  • Time consuming: Manual testing takes significantly longer than automated tests.
  • Human error: The risk of mistakes increases with manual intervention.
  • Scalability limitations: Applying on large-scale projects with extensive test cases is challenging.
  • Resource intensive: Requires more human resources to cover comprehensive testing scenarios.


Comparing Automation and Manual Testing 

Automation and manual testing come with their strengths and ideal use cases. Understanding their differences and applications is essential to create an effective testing strategy. Here’s a visual comparison between the two.

A chart comparing how testing approaches differ for manual versus automated methods.

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Striking a Balance Between Manual and Automated

The future of testing in software development will likely see a synergistic blend of automation and manual methods.


Integration of AI and ML

Future trends suggest a more robust integration of AI and machine learning in testing. These technologies will streamline test creation and analysis.


Enhanced test efficiency

Automation will evolve to handle more complex tasks. This will lead to faster and more efficient testing cycles.


Human insight remains essential

Manual testing will still be necessary despite the growth of automation, providing the human insight automation lacks, especially in user experience and complex scenarios.


Continuous testing

A shift towards constant testing in the software development life cycle is expected. This approach combines manual and automated testing for ongoing quality assurance.


Future of QA Testing

The debate between automation and manual methods remains dynamic in software testing. This discussion has highlighted the unique strengths and limitations of both approaches. 

Looking ahead, the integration of AI and ML in testing is poised to revolutionize efficiency. Human insight, however, will continue to be indispensable. The future of software testing lies in a balanced, collaborative approach. It’s about leveraging the best of both worlds to achieve comprehensive and effective quality assurance.

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