Manual Testing vs. Automated Testing: Is This Actually A Competition?

As software systems are becoming increasingly larger and more complex and companies are moving to agile methodologies to deal with these fast-paced changes, manual testing and automatic testing have become subjects in development to think about.

Manual testing is often time-consuming and this opens the door for Automated Testing. So, does this mean that Manual Testing is losing the testing race? Is there a competition between Manual Testing and Automated Testing that someone has to win?

The main cost/benefit of Automated Testing comes from the time and resources a company can save. Repetitive test plans that take a lot of time for testers to run manually are natural candidates to be automated. This is precisely where we see automation come into play. 

Agile methodologies need to have quick testing cycles. Quality is a MUST in every system, but time becomes a real issue when thinking in long manual testing cycles. Running Regressions and Integration test cases manually every time a change is made might be very time-consuming – and even boring for testers! – when this has to be done once every 2 or 3 weeks. Automated Testing reduces this time and testers can start focusing on other challenging tasks, not just in executing the same test plans over and over again. (However, Automation does not always happen at a low cost as we need to invest time, money and resources in developing scripts – but this will be a topic for a future blog post.).

As for now, it seems that Automated Testing is the key for companies that need to deliver high-quality products every couple of weeks. But, it is not that easy! Even though its advantages are huge, not everything can be automated – at least not yet. There are technology constraints, not enough time to develop the scripts, a need to have specialized people with development skills to understand the frameworks and development languages and there are also tests that, because of their nature, cannot be or are not worth the time to be automated. For all these situations, where Automated Testing is not possible/worthy, Manual Testing is still the key. This is why it is not a competition.

Manual Testing and Automated Testing are not trying to win the 1st place medal and Manual Testers are not losing against Automation Testers. They are both needed and they are BOTH critical and crucial for the company’s success. Each of them covers different needs. Bringing Manual and Automated Testing to a project is a win-win situation for the company and the employees: company will deliver faster, reliability in the product increments and testers can focus on more interesting tasks that will add value to the product and the company.

As you see, they actually compliment each other! While a machine runs a set of steps to check the system and to increase product’s reliability, the manual tester can start using more of his/her creativity and experience to verify scenarios where thinking, feeling and investigating are necessary.

Let’s automate repetitive testing scenarios that take a long time to be manually executed and let’s allow manual testers to perform more exploratory and ad-hoc testing instead of just following steps. The idea of: Manual vs. Automated Testing should be no More! Let’s be friends and let’s take this as a great opportunity to improve our QA processes, grow as professionals and take the best of both worlds!

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Gaby Zuniga

Gaby is a software engineer who is passionate about Quality Assurance. She has more than 8 years of experience in this field and she enjoys every day she spends on it. When not testing or improving processes, Gaby loves to spend time with her family exploring all beautiful places Costa Rica offers!

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