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Can Manual Testing be Completely Replaced by Automation Testing?

Can Manual Testing be Completely Replaced by Automation Testing?

There’s a world of difference between “good” and “good enough.”

Think of it in end-user terms—what sort of emotional response are you hoping for when your customers get their hands on your product for the first time? You want them to be impressed, you want them to be at ease. You want them to have the best experience possible.

You don’t launch a new product or upgrade with the intention of your customers eventually getting the hang of it after a few trial and error moments.

That’s the difference between “good” and “good enough,” and it’s what ultimately leads to success—or failure. Achieving that difference is what your QA process should be all about.

Only a QA approach that includes manual testing can lift you from the functionality of a good enough outcome up to the satisfaction of a good one. Automation offers an enviable mix of speed and high-volume processing, but ultimately you need the human element of manual testing to be certain you’ve covered every aspect your users will face. Tempted as you may be by the rapid evolution of automation testing, manual testing can’t be totally replaced just yet.

Quality Within the Release Cycle

There’s no need for manual testing to get in the way of your release cycle, either. With the right approach, you can have quality quickly. In fact, there are several key aspects of your QA process that work far better with manual testing.

  • Test Coverage – You’re not going to get 100% test coverage with automation testing alone—there’s always going to be an element that simply can’t be automated.

  • Tests in real-time – Only manual testing can be performed in a real-time environment.

  • Stability – Even if you employ automation, and you definitely should, manual testing saves you time by creating a stable foundation for running automated test cases.

The most important time savings though, come in the final days before your release date. That’s when a sudden emergence of a bug can send you into a vicious cycle of fix and infect, with one patch generating the need for another. Manual testing allows you to get an expert mind thinking about a workaround that a predefined script would never spot. That human element really comes to the fore once you hit the user testing phase.

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Usability Testing Still Needs Humans

This is the crux of the good vs. good enough difference. Automated testing is invaluable, but the best possible results are achieved by combining it with a manual testing component. The reason is simple—computers are logical, humans are emotional. It’s basic Star Trek philosophy.

Once it comes time to simulate the user experience, there just isn’t a viable automated substitute for the intuition, impressions, demands, and reactions of human beings. So long as your users are human, your testers need to be as well.

A computer will take for granted that a link is present on a page, or be satisfied by any sort of answer your error handling provides. Manual testing determines if those links are visible and intuitive, and lets you know if your app’s advice makes sense.

Whenever possible you want humans to have the final input on:

  • User interface testing

  • Usability testing

  • Installation testing

  • Security testing

  • User acceptance testing

Essentially, any time you want to integrate form and function, you need expert human minds on the problem. Don’t hesitate to look for those experts outside your own team. Just make sure that whoever you outsource to understands the importance of manual testing and the human element of the QA process.

Manual Testing is Here to Stay

Your product or platform is the combination of your team’s unique vision and talents. The QA process is pivotal to ensuring that when it arrives with the end user it delivers on all that potential. Remember you’re aiming for good, not just good enough. You need manual testing to get there.

Automation is essential. It’s the best way to save time overall and improve the accuracy of your tests, and you should employ it whenever possible. The key to a robust QA process is understanding the times when it's not possible to use automation. You have to acknowledge that there are elements of your QA that continue to be best handled by human engineers and manual testing.

A day may dawn when it's possible to completely replace manual testing with automated testing—but that day is a long way from today, and it will have to be filled with a very different breed of end users. Until then, QASource is here to help. Get a Free Quote or call +1.925.271.5555 today.


This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be considered legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out of this information and encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.