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What are the Disadvantages of Automation Testing in Quality Assurance?

automation testing | By Timothy Joseph | January 10, 2019

What are the 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, including:
  • Cost;

  • No user experience POV;

  • Loss of control; and

  • Need for industry-specific expertise.

None of these disadvantages should keep you from using automation testing, but you should know how they will affect your final product and costs, and how to minimize their effects.

Disadvantages of Automation Testing in Quality Assurance

Cost

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.

That said, any automated test is only as good as the test cases it is written on. There is no secure way to shortcut 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 POV

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, despite its disadvantages. 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 near 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.

Offshore Outsourcing

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.

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 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. Get your Free Quote or call +1.925.271.5555 today.