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Automation Testing vs Manual Testing: Which is Better?

Automation Testing vs Manual Testing: Which is Better?

February 7, 2023
Aakanksha Dixit

Overview: Manual Testing vs Automation Testing

Software testing can be broadly classified as manual testing or automation testing. Manual testing involves humans manually creating and executing tests without the aid of tools or automated scripts, while automated testing involves the use of software, scripts, and tools to create and  execute test cases.

The question of which type of testing to use in a software project is a common one. There are several factors to consider, but most organizations agree that the most important are time, cost, and quality (risk coverage). After all, the goal of any testing process is to ensure high quality software, while minimizing the cost and effort required to ensure quality software.

In this blog, we will explore the key differences between manual testing and automated testing. We will examine the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, and provide guidance on when to use manual testing and when to use automated testing.

Manual vs Automated testing: A quick comparison

Automation TestingManual Testing
Definition Testing is performed using software, scripts, and tools to create and execute test cases. Testing is performed manually by a human tester, without the use of additional tools or scripts.
Advantages Faster test execution, improved test coverage, reduced human error, the ability to run tests in parallel, the ability to schedule tests to run, less expensive in the long run. Ability to test non-functional requirements, ability to test creative/unexpected user inputs, ability to test more complex scenarios.
Disadvantages Can be expensive to set up and maintain, may require specialized skills and knowledge, and may not be able to test non-functional requirements as effectively. Slower test creation & execution, prone to human error, may not provide thorough test coverage.
When to use Automated testing is best for regression testing, load testing, performance testing, and repeated execution. Manual testing is best suited for exploratory testing, usability testing, compatibility testing, and ad hoc testing.

Manual vs Automated Testing in terms of time

With manual testing processes, tests are performed one at a time to catch bugs and surface issues before software is pushed live. Manually testing scenarios are time consuming, requires multiple clicks and data entries through multiple screens. Additionally, it often takes hours to test just one test scenario. Automated testing is far more efficient, as testers utilize tools and scripts to automate repeated testing efforts.

The main difference between manual testing vs automated testing is that automated testing is significantly faster than manual testing. However, the main bottleneck is that automated testing, at least with legacy tools, requires coding and test maintenance.

Read more: Automated Software Testing: Why Do You Need It?

Some FAQs related to automation and manual testing.

Q1: Which is more effective, automation testing or manual testing?

It is difficult to say that one type of testing is definitively better than the other, as both automation testing and manual testing have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. The best approach to testing often involves using both automation and or manual testing, depending on the specific needs of the project.

Automation testing can be very effective for quickly and efficiently executing large numbers of test cases, particularly those that are repetitive or do not require a lot of human intervention. However, it can be expensive to set up and maintain an automation test infrastructure.

Manual testing, on the other hand, allows for more flexibility and creativity in the testing process, and it is better suited for testing non-functional requirements such as usability and compatibility. However, it is slower and more prone to human error than automation testing.

Ultimately, the choice between automation and manual testing will depend on the specific needs and constraints of the project at hand. It is important to carefully evaluate the trade-offs and choose the approach that is most appropriate for the project's goals and resources.

Q2: Can a manual tester do automation testing?

With traditional code-based testing tools like Selenium, it can take a non-trained manual tester up to a year to efficiently create and execute automated tests. However, with No-Code automation tools like Opkey, manual testers without programming knowledge can create and scale automation after just a few hours of training.

Read more: Automation Testing Tools: Which One Is Right for You?

Q3: Is usability testing suitable for automation?

Usability testing is a crucial step in the product design and development process that involves evaluating a product or service's user experience. It helps to identify and eliminate usability issues and improve user satisfaction. While the actual execution of a usability test requires manual intervention, there are certain aspects of the process that can be automated.

Automation in usability testing can be used to streamline repetitive tasks, such as setting up the test environment, recruiting participants, and collecting and analyzing data. For instance, automated tools can be used to create and deploy surveys, collect user feedback, and analyze the data generated by the test. This can save time and reduce the risk of errors.

However, it's important to note that automation cannot replace human insight and intuition when it comes to evaluating user experience. Factors such as body language, facial expressions, and user feedback can be critical in understanding the user's perspective and identifying potential issues. Therefore, human intervention is necessary to ensure the accuracy and validity of the test results.

While usability testing cannot be fully automated, the use of automation tools can help to streamline certain aspects of the process, saving time and reducing the risk of errors. However, it's crucial to balance automation with human intervention to ensure the accuracy and validity of the test results.

Q4: How do businesses prioritize Manual vs Automated Testing?

Ease of learning

Most test automation frameworks are developed for coders. And most business analysts, functional consultants, and manual testers are not coders. So, they find it difficult to operate a test automation framework.

We recommend choosing a codeless test automation platform on which test cases can be created through recording actions, or with intuitive drag-and-drop testing building. This allows anyone in your organization to create and automate tests. The ramp up time for platforms like these is short—typically less than a week.

Risk Coverage

Another main difference between manual testing vs automated testing is that with intelligent test automation platforms, organizations can test all critical business functions quickly. No trade-off needs to be made between quality and speed. With manual testing processes, organizations can test quickly—and risk low coverage—or test slowly, and be slow to adapt.

Self-healing Capabilities

Most automated testing platforms, like Selenium, operate using fixed object properties, like Name, ID, Xpath, CSS etc. A slight change in UI or a tweak in functionality breaks these automation scripts. And as a result, test maintenance becomes a major burden.

We recommend you choose a test automation platform with AI capabilities. Such platforms can automatically identify object changes and fix test scripts without human intervention. This saves countless hours on tedious test maintenance tasks.

Read more: Automation Testing for SAP: The Basics

Test Discovery & Accelerators

With most automated testing solutions, humans are still responsible for creating and then coding test scripts. If the human doesn’t know which processes to test, then test coverage will not be optimized.

We recommend you choose a test automation platform with test discovery functionality,  which can mine your existing test logs to surface the historical tests you’ve run. In parallel, these intelligent platforms can read your activity and configuration logs to compare what your organization is testing, with what your employees are doing.  This saves a significant amount of time in test creation, and ensures optimal test coverage.

Some more expert tips

Some types of tests, such as exploratory testing and usability testing, are best suited for manual testing, as they require the flexibility and creativity of a human tester. Other types of tests, such as regression testing and performance testing, are better suited for automation, as they can be easily automated and can run in a consistent & repeatable manner.

Another important factor to consider is the availability of testing resources, including time and budget. While test automation requires an initial investment, in the long run, it’s built for scale, and requires less time and money to run than manual testing processes.

For example, an AI tool can perform regression testing overnight, freeing up manual testers to work on more complex or important tasks. AI test automation tools can also reduce the number of human testers needed for a project, potentially lowering costs.

On the other hand, manual testing can be time-consuming, so it may not always be feasible to rely solely on manual testing, particularly for large test suites or projects with tight deadlines.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, the best approach to prioritizing manual testing and automation testing will depend on your organizational needs and goals. At a high level, automation testing is less expensive in the long run, saves time, and provides better risk coverage, but manual testing is still needed for more exploratory testing.

It’s important to carefully evaluate the trade-offs and choose the approach that is most appropriate for your project's needs and resources.

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