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Does Automation Replace Manual Testing? Pros and Cons

by Thijs Kok, on May 24, 2022

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With the current buzz around artificial intelligence and machine learning, it is worth evaluating which aspects of your software development can benefit from a dose of automation. 

In fact, testing automation tools and approaches have evolved in the last decade, giving teams new testing techniques to evaluate the performance of their designs and introduce higher levels of precision and speed.

But is automation your team’s golden ticket to better software? 

In this article, we will explore the question, “Does automation replace manual testing?” Additionally, we will dive into which test management tools can benefit your software development team.

The Key Facets of Manual and Automated Testing

Many testing teams are familiar with manual testing, which has quality assurance (QA) professionals or representative end users run pre-scripted test cases on the software in development. Because testers are directly involved, tests can be both qualitative and quantitative, evaluating the software’s performance, security, design, and functionality. 

On the other hand, automated testing utilizes testing software to run specific, pre-defined test scripts against your software. After running an automated test, your testing team will receive the actual result of the test compared to the expected result. This binary, “yes-or-no” result (i.e., “yes” meaning the expected result was observed, “no” meaning it was not) shows whether the software is working as expected. 

Regardless of the testing method used, it is recommended that teams follow a consistent approach to developing test cases and conducting test runs to obtain quality feedback.

The Strengths and Weaknesses of Each Testing Approach

There are strengths and weaknesses to each testing approach that QA professionals and software developers need to know. 

Some of the more notable include:

Automated Testing

Strengths of automated testing:

  • Can mimic repetitive tasks that your QA team performs without the risk of tester fatigue
  • Uses computing power, allowing for high availability, reusability, and accuracy
  • Can run tests around the clock and simultaneously

Weaknesses of automated testing:

  • Provides only binary results, without the additional “color” provided by human testers
  • Requires specifically designed, pre-loaded test cases

Manual Testing

Strengths of manual testing:

  • Has the versatility of human testers, who can run a wide range of tests and identify all kinds of issues
  • Human testers can determine whether or not the application fits their needs 
  • Testers can evaluate more subjective elements, such as if text is readable or whether the software complies with branding guidelines

Weaknesses of manual testing:

  • Takes longer to prepare, run, and finalize tests
  • Testers can get fatigued, make mistakes, or have time constraints
  • Testers may need to be trained on testing methodology, reporting results, or the technology itself

Bringing It All Together

So what about the original question: “Does automation replace manual testing?”

At TestMonitor, we believe that instead of considering manual testing and automated testing as an “either/or” question, the two testing approaches can complement one another’s strengths and weaknesses. 

When tests can be automated, develop test scripts to run through them quickly and repeatedly until confirmed. When more dynamic, subjective, or critical thinking is needed to measure performance, lean on manual testing. In either situation, test management tools like TestMonitor can help your team create and store test cases, organize test runs, consolidate results, and communicate progress.

Want to learn more about how to use automated testing in your own QA processes? Then make sure to check out our recent webinar.

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