In quality assurance, automation testing is one of the quickest and the most effective methods for checking the efficacy of software or an application. However, like most processes, be it a company’s business model, or the software development practices, automation testing has its own set of limitations.
What Is Automation Testing?
Automation testing is the process of running quality assurance tests automatically, managing the test data and retrieving actionable insights to improve the quality and functionality of the software. Although it is primarily a measure for software quality assurance, the activities involve the entire software development team including analysts, developers and dev ops engineers.
What Is QA Automation?
QA Automation refers to a separate piece of software that is used to run tests to check the performance of the software that is being developed. Previously, these tests were performed manually, but nowadays, automated testing can handle many of these tasks, and can even perform more advanced tests. There are several ways to incorporate QA automation in your testing strategy:
- Develop tests from scratch with in-house development team
- Use codeless test automation software for non-coders
- Outsource testing to a third party QA service
Automation Testing vs Manual Testing
It's important to understand the difference between these two types of testing before moving further. Manual testing is performed by a human being without using any test scripts. Automated testing, on the other hand, is executed by using test automation frameworks, tools and software. The differences are demonstrated in the table below:
|Aspect of Testing||Manual Testing||Automation Testing|
|Types of tasks||Entirely manual tasks||Most tasks can be automated, including real world simulations|
|Test execution||Performed manually by testers||Performed by using automation tools and scripts|
|Test efficiency||Less efficient and time-consuming||More tests can be run in less time with greater efficiency|
|Test coverage||Difficult to ensure sufficient test coverage||Easy to ensure greater test coverage|
Disadvantages of Automation Testing in Quality Assurance
Speed comes at a cost.
The idea of racing through the QA process and achieving time savings near the stressful end of the software development cycle is very attractive. The hard work of your core DevOps phase is behind you, and your thoughts turn to getting the product to users. So automation testing may be your first instinct for QA. Automation testing is indeed the fastest form of QA currently available, and will cut your testing time by 95%.
However, there are a few disadvantages to automation testing. Listed below are the limitations:
If your software is not fully developed, it can be more expensive to implement automated testing. Writing effective test cases also requires expert input, which can increase your upfront costs.
With that being said, an automated test is only as good as the test cases on which it is written. There is no way to take a shortcut around that process without compromising your entire build. That fact leaves you with a greater initial cost than less-thorough, slower alternatives.
Therefore, as a best practice, test manually if your software is not fully developed or is in the early stages of development.
No User Experience Point of View
Automation testing does not give you the user experience POV. You can counter this by using a hybrid of automation testing and manual testing.
Loss of Control
Updating test cases as the test code grows also means effectively stopping and starting the QA phase, taking control out of your hands.
Need for Industry-Specific Expertise
Some industries have specific requirements that must be considered during the QA process, such as security and regulatory compliance. We have seen this in the financial services industry in particular. Testing within the financial services requires specialized knowledge and experience. In addition to the standard practices of performance and security testing, you need an understanding of how an API will run across all the relevant browsers, platforms, and systems.
This need for core stability and flexibility and the highest levels of consumer data security means the financial services industry is more dependent than most on integrated API testing. In something of a double-edged sword, that kind of in-build testing is usually best performed through automation. Leaving your QA process until the latter phase of manual testing such as GUI, however, can compromise the natural evolution of a stable core.
Furthermore, the sheer scale and complexity of the average financial services app make manual testing at the API stage nearly impossible to execute within any reasonable release cycle. What we are left with is a need for speed, and a conflicting desire to minimize its downside.
Limiting the Disadvantages of Automation Testing
To minimize these problems, we recommend a few tactics for financial services and other industries with such security and compliance needs.
Find the Right QA Partner
You should find a QA partner with the specific domain expertise you need. You will save in the long-term by engaging with someone who knows the industry, its language, and expectations.
You can also make use of offshore outsourcing to countries where there is a significant labor cost advantage. Partnering with a team from India, for example, which has a high rate of financial domain expertise but a lower resource burden, can reduce your QA cost by as much as 50% over a project lifetime.
Use Automation Testing on Long-Term Projects
You can apply automated testing within projects that better suit the automated test case platform. A long-term project, for instance, that is going to receive new features over time will benefit from a scripted process that can be used for regression testing to ensure that add-ons do not break existing functionality. Automated testing can also save you money over time if you are running a lot of small projects with similar core builds that require only minor tweaks.
Use Manual Testing In Combination
Ultimately, the best way to harness the speed of automated testing is to supplement it with an element of manual testing. Manual testing is not going to disappear from the QA process anytime soon. The key difference between the services is the biggest reason why manual testing can still make a valued contribution: People.
Machines cannot make the leaps of logic that human engineers can. Nor can they readily replicate the emotions, frustrations, and expectations a user brings with them when they encounter a new API. Whereas an automated script will generate the discovery of a bug, a human expert can go beyond that basic determination and simultaneously see a solution—it is like looking through the lines of code and seeing an alternative.
The most efficient approach to QA testing in the financial services domain is a combination of both automation and manual approaches. The trick is knowing when to apply each method. Here are our recommendations:
|Automated Testing||Manual Testing|
|Regression testing||Subjective valuation and usability|
|API integration||New and changing functionality|
|Repetitive smoke tests||Strategic development|
|Scalability||Complex functionality dependent on product knowledge|
Automation, Manual, or Hybrid Testing: The Best QA Choice
Knowing the costs that come with automation testing’s speed will help you make the best decision for your QA needs.
There is no denying that automated testing has some disadvantages. However, by pairing it with the human element of manual testing, you can retain most of your speed and get the user-tested software you need without losing any control.
QASource has the domain expertise and QA flexibility to tailor a quality assurance process to your unique requirements. We can provide quality offshore outsourcing with experts in both automated and manual testing. Contact us today for a free quote: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1.925.271.5555 to get started.