The Difference Between Automation and Manual Testing

In the world of Quality Assurance, there are two basic types of testing, one executed manually by a QA Engineer and one executed by a script using a computer. A good QA organization requires the existence of both. We will go into the details of both types and when to use one or the other.  

What is Manual Testing?

In short, Manual Testing is the execution of test cases by an actual person following a script of predetermined steps known as a test case. The purpose is to discover bugs hidden in the software under development. Each essential feature of the application will have a set of test cases written from the requirement document ahead of time. All features introduced into the software application will begin with manual testing. The testers execute the test cases and generate test reports without the help of any automation software testing tools.

The Pros of Manual Testing

  • Get started quickly and get feedback right away
  • Less expensive starting out; not spending on automation tools and process
  • Human intuition is the best benefit of manual testing
  • Testing a small change can be done quicker

The Cons of Manual Testing

  • Manual testing is laborious and repetitive
  • Time constraint during a testing phase on a larger application
  • Not Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) friendly
  • Need a larger team

What is Automation Testing?

When a feature becomes a stable part of a software application, a test engineer may decide to write code or test scripts to validate the feature. The test engineer may use a test automation tool or develop his own tools to test the application. Automated testing allows the team to execute repetitive test tasks without the interaction of a manual tester. This can save a lot of time. Automation Testing requires some manual effort to research the right tools and create the test scripts.

The Pros to Automated Testing

  • Speedy and efficient process
  • More reliable at catching regression 
  • Less laborious on test engineers
  • Can scale to test many environments at once
  • Better testing coverage
  • Can operate with a small team

The Cons of Automated Testing

  • Unable to test visual elements properly like colors, fonts, sizes, contrast
  • Testing tools maybe expensive
  • Requires a larger startup time, configuration and building test cases (sometimes brittle)
  • Debugging of test script and test maintenance is costly
  • Testing tool limitation which reduces the scope of automation
  • No automation tool can beat human intuition (yet)

There are pros and cons to both testing methods and it’s obvious that a good QA team needs both types. The degree of one over another is different from one organization to another but this is for sure: a QA organization must start with manual testing before they can jump into automation testing. Ignoring manual testing can be costly and introduce many risks.

Our team at blueotterqa.com can help run your internal QA team by running manual test cases, update or generate test cases as needed and execute test plans. While we are hard at work testing for regression, your team can research and implement automation testing into your organization. Contact us to see how we can help.