Can Manual Testing be Completely Replaced by Automation Testing?

Timothy Joseph
Timothy Joseph | July 16, 2020

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, at ease and to have the best experience possible.

You don’t launch a new product, or upgrade an existing one, 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 when streamlined with these test data management tools. Ultimately, you need the human element of manual testing to be certain you’ve covered every aspect your users will face.

Does automation replace manual testing? It’s tempting to go all in on these QA automation testing tips for faster product releases. While there’s a difference between manual testing and automation testing, a balance of both within your QA process is key towards product success in the market.

What is the Difference Between Manual Testing and Automation Testing?

The most substantial difference between manual testing and automation testing comes down to who (or what) carries out the test cases.

In manual testing, QA engineers execute each test case on an individual basis in order to catch bugs and feature issues before software deployment.

In automation testing, multiple test cases are executed simultaneously based on provided test scripts which are run through automated functional testing tools. Therefore, the manual testing and automation testing difference comes down to if a human or machine carries out the test case.

So, how do you decide between automated versus manual testing? That decision depends on the goal for each test case and the expected result from the test.

Quality Within the Release Cycle

With the right approach, you can have quality quickly with automation testing and effectively with manual testing. 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. The manual testing and automation testing difference is that human testers delve into the product when performing exploratory testing to uncover well-hidden defects while automation testing strictly follows the provided test script.

  • Tests in real-time –Only manual testing can be performed in a real-time environment. And because real-time environments are where your consumers interact with your product, it’s crucial for QA testers to ensure that the user experience of the product is ready for market through manual testing.

  • Stability –Even with test automation, manual testing can save you time by creating a stable foundation for running automated test cases. In other words, manual testing verifies the health of the testing environment, further confirming the accuracy of executed automated test cases.

The difference between manual testing and automation testing is clear during the final days before your release date. A bug detected late in the development cycle can send you into a vicious cycle of fix and check, with one patch generating the need for another.

Manual testers can instantly test once the fix is deployed to validate its effectiveness within the product as well as apply exploratory testing to confirm that the fix didn’t cause additional defects. Not only is there not enough time to update the test scripts to execute these last-minute tests, but automation testing cannot provide any exploratory insight to verify the soundness of the software environment.

Usability Testing Still Needs Humans

There are benefits of automation testing over manual testing, but the best possible results are achieved when the two are combined. The reason is simple—computers are logical, humans are emotional. It’s basic Star Trek philosophy.

Does automation replace manual testing? Not when 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. As long as your users are human, so too must be your testers.

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:

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.

Does Automation Replace Manual Testing?

Are there benefits of automation testing over manual testing? Of course. In fact, many successful companies enjoy the benefits that manual and automation testing provide simply by incorporating both testing practices into their QA process and tracking these key QA performance metrics.

But is automated versus manual testing the better way to go? Does automation replace manual testing?

Not quite. The difference between manual and automation testing can easily be compared to driving versus walking. Driving a car to a destination in many instances is the faster, more efficient option. However, there are also many circumstances where driving a car would not be appropriate, cost-effective or efficient.

In short, the benefits of automation testing over manual testing only apply to test cases where test automation provides more accuracy, efficiency and cost-savings. Applying automation testing across the board can damage the quality and experience of your product.

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.

No one can deny that there are benefits of automation testing over manual testing, especially when it comes to saving time and improve test accuracy. But it's not simply not possible to have a robust QA process by relying solely on automation. There are elements of your QA that continue to be best handled by human engineers and manual testing.

Does automation replace manual testing? Not yet—and fortunately you can enlist the help of a QA services provider like QASource to support your testing needs. Our team of experts are skilled in both manual testing and automated testing, ready to support any type of test your development cycle needs to launch to market successfully and on time. 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.