What’s the Difference Between Manual and Automation Testing?

What’s the Difference Between Manual and Automation Testing?

When it comes to developing new software, testing will make sure that it meets the highest quality standards.

Testing ensures that your product works as intended, delivers an engaging and immersive user experience, and is compatible with all relevant devices, applications, and platforms. Security testing can also reveal vulnerabilities, threats, and risks in your software prior to launch.

There are many ways to perform software testing, with manual and automation testing being the two most common. Both methods have their pros and cons, and knowing when to use the right test method will help you obtain the most valuable feedback. You can then use this data to improve various aspects of your software, such as performance, UI design, functionality, integration, and security.

In this article, you will gain a greater understanding of the differences between manual vs automation testing, their most common use case scenarios, and the benefits of outsourcing your software testing efforts.

Manual vs automation testing: What is manual testing?

Manual testing is a type of software test performed by a human QA analyst. The purpose of manual testing is to uncover bugs, errors, issues, and inconsistencies in your software. With this information, your development team can then rectify these issues, so that your product will launch in the best possible state.

QA analysts do not need to know how to write code or scripts to manually test a piece of software. Instead, they rely solely on interacting with the software – in whatever state it currently is in – and record their experiences in writing.

Manual vs automation testing: What is automation testing?

Automation testing is testing performed by a pre-written, automated script. The code for testing is written by highly skilled programmers, who use their knowledge and expertise to write code that can test very specific parts of a piece of software.

For example, an automation testing code may test to see if two different modules, such as a database and form, can work well together under different use-case scenarios.

Programmers use all kinds of software testing tools to perform the actions set out by their code and test scripts. Some of the most popular software testing tools are Selenium Appium, Cypress.io, and TestComplete, to name a few.

Different software testing tools are more appropriate than others for certain applications, be it for web and mobile or desktop environments.

Pros of manual testing

  • No coding or programming knowledge required
  • Cheaper than setting up automation testing for low volume projects
  • Higher chance of discovering unforeseen bugs and issues that fall outside the standard test parameters
  • Ideal for testing small, minute changes, whereas automation parameters would have to be changed each time to test for different variations
  • Good for testing ‘human observations’ that automation testing cannot, such as UI design choices (i.e., font type, button size, menu layout)
  • Good for when the test case scenario needs to be performed only once or twice

Cons of manual testing

  • Manual testing is more expensive than automation testing for large, complex, and high-volume projects
  • Greater risk of human errors due to fatigue and boredom, especially for regression testing
  • Slower and more time-consuming than automation
  • Manually written test reports can be hard to understand, depending on the quality of the tester’s writing
  • Investment is needed for human resources

Pros of automation testing

  • Ideal for regression, performance, and functionality testing – especially for repetitive tasks
  • Faster and more efficient than manual testing
  • Provides a greater ROI (Return on Investment) for long-term projects than manual testing
  • Automation test reports are consistent and readily available, making it easier to assess the results
  • Not prone to human error and fatigue
  • Can perform testing overnight when the rest of the team is inactive
  • Automation test reports can prove useful for future automation testing projects, helping the tools ‘learn’ from past mistakes and streamline the process for next time

Cons of automation testing

  • Requires programming and coding knowledge
  • Unable to test for unforeseen or ‘out of the box’ use-case scenarios
  • Testing quality is only as good as the code written
  • Automation testing does not involve ‘human consideration’ like UI design and the user experience
  • Not cost-effective for short-term, low volume projects

Types of software testing

As previously stated, different software testing types are ideal for different scenarios. Generally speaking, the manual approach is not ideal for regression testing. This is where the same test is performed over and ever again to determine if the end result is the same each time. Therefore, knowing when to perform an automated or manual test will help speed up the process, and produce the most accurate and actionable results

Unit tests

This involves performing a series of low-level test scenarios. The most common is testing individual components, modules, buttons, and other functions. It usually does not consider how two different modules interact with each other. Unit tests are cheap to automate and run very quickly.

Suited for: Automation testing

Integration tests

Integration tests involve testing the relationship between two or more modules/components within a piece of software. The purpose of the test is to see how well different components work together. It can help reveal potential bugs and issues when two or more components are run at the same time.

Suited for: Automation testing

Functional tests

Functional tests are tests that ensure a piece of software meets the unique business requirements. It’s a form of black box testing, where the software system is tested without having any knowledge of the internal code structure, implementation details, and internal paths. It only verifies the output of a specific action when it is performed.

Suited for: Automation and manual testing

End-to-end tests

End-to-end tests replicate the kind of actions performed by a real user to ensure the user experience meets the highest standards. The purpose of these tests is to verify that the many user flows work as expected. For example, loading a web page or logging in. Since these tests can be highly subjective and rely heavily on human consideration, manual testing is often the best approach for end-to-end tests.

Suited for: Automation and manual testing

Acceptance tests

Acceptance tests are tests designed to verify that the software meets all the necessary business requirements. Unlike functional tests, this type of tests requires the entire application to be up and running, not just a few components.

Suited for: Automation testing

Performance tests

Performances tests are designed to see how the software responds when put under heavy loading and stress tests. They’re designed to push the limits of the software and test for worst-case scenarios – such as sudden crashes – so that the development team can rectify such issues before launch. Performance testing also involves seeing where the software can be optimized, so as to improve aspects like loading times, speed, and response times to user actions.

Suited for: Automation testing

Benefits of outsourcing your software testing

If you lack the in-house resources to perform software testing, outsourcing could be a great option for you. This is especially true if you have a small, low-volume project to complete. Or, if you don’t have the time or resources to hire and train a brand-new team of in-house QA analysts.

Outsourcing your software testing could help your business save valuable time, money, and resources – thus freeing up your time to focus on other important matters. Hiring a software testing team also means that all your testing needs are taken care of under one roof, without having to approach multiple vendors at once.

When looking for a software testing company, you should make sure they have the following traits and qualities:

  • Access to the latest manual and automation software testing tools
  • Relevant experience with performing the kind of tests you need done – whether it be performance and security, functionality, user experience, and more
  • A strong track record of providing excellent customer service and outcomes that exceed client expectations
  • Strong communication skills, so that both parties understand each other clearly and work well together
  • Clear, well written, and easy to read test reports


Manual and Automation Testing conclusion

Testing is one of the most important parts of developing and launching new software.

Get it right the first time, and you’ll boost the odds of releasing software that your customers will love. But get it wrong, though, and your software launch may go poorly and impact the relationship with your customers and clients.

Most important of all, software testing gives you the assurance that your product meets the highest quality standards and business requirements.

So, whether you require manual or automation testing, knowing how to use them properly will help you go a long way to achieving your goals.

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