With the shift left development approach and the arrival of DevOps; in the last few years, we have witnessed a decisive shift towards automated software testing and QA practices. However, the question still remains is have we been able to eliminate the dependency on manual testing completely?
A debate has been evolving over the years about whether automation will affect manual testing or not; how integration, unit, or user acceptance testing are becoming insignificant in today’s highly advanced digital landscape.
There is no doubt that the future will see more automation and data-driven solutions to aid quality assurance. We can also expect the involvement of machine learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence (AI) to complement the manual testing efforts. However, manual testing will always remain in vogue. Here is why:
1. Cheaper for Smaller Projects
Smaller applications are equipped with few functionalities and the regression volume is also normally low. This is also the case for apps with a shorter life cycle. Hence, it is not logical to invest heavily in an expensive automated installation.
2. Humans Understand Other Humans Better
To uncover user motivation including bite-sized behavioral insights that reveal the performance of certain functions, manual testers are capable of outstripping any algorithm. Humans have the ability to instantly identify the processes that customers actually need and the essential operations required. A manual tester is also more capable of identifying the paths that users are more attracted to and the ones they are ignoring. You can easily find the point where users are struggling and eventually give up on the application.
3. Better Evaluation of Aesthetics
Algorithms have not evolved to gauge business-critical cosmetic elements including font, size, color, button length, or contrast of the web page. Only a manual tester can decide whether a particular color or font of the text is matching the branding guidelines of the client as automation is only as smart as we design it to be.
It is also not feasible to solely rely on automated test suites to identify the element positioning on the web page that is looking the same across all platforms including operating systems, browsers, and mobile devices. It is because some of the automated test scripts run on x and y coordinates of the element and that changes with the screen size.
4. Activity-tracking Applications
Applications are developed with multiple integrated systems that contain a plethora of different types of components including software, cloud services, APIs, monitors, and printers interacting with each other in real-time. This is why no matter how sophisticated your automated scripts are, they won’t be able to test all dissimilar components in a single time. Besides, automated tools are not capable of fully imitating the human movements with exact precision to justify its use.
For instance, automating the “tap” is not only costly, but it will also not be able to emulate the finger touch of a human and gauge the reaction of the user interface. Hence, it makes sense to test such activities manually.
6. No Random Testing in Automation
End users are not concerned about the technology or architecture of the application. All they want is seamless and easy customer experience. Hence, it is crucial to test the application randomly. It allows manual testers to test the application functionality without any exposure to its inner capabilities to ensure the customer would be able to easily use the application.
7. Easier to Implement Minor Changes
There are several instances where applications go through a few tweaks including changes in a class or ID. The testing of these changes can be done easily by a manual tester. However, you need to make changes in the automated test scripts even for the most meager items in the user-interface. And when the app is in test mode, implementing program changes becomes time-consuming.
9. Can’t Automate All Tests
In the long run, it is not feasible to achieve absolute automation. You will always have to rely on human scrutiny from some sections of the software because it is difficult to achieve error-free results.
For instance, you can’t automate usability testing. It is difficult for an automated tool to distinguish between ‘bad usability’ and ‘good usability’. Likewise, exploratory testing allows manual test engineers to test the limit of the software through different perspectives. Without proper scrutiny through manual testing engineers, this could lead to unattended errors and wastage of precious resources.
The application of manual testing largely depends on the type of application, budget, and tools being used. Both manual and automation testing can co-exist beautifully to complement each other for flawless quality assurance. Manual testing can help understand the vital issues and explore other zones of the test with greater flexibility. However, automation testing will help you save time and resources in the long run while executing bigger projects. And instead of calling it manual testing, the right way to address this is really functional testing, as a tester brings in strong functional and workflow knowledge to be able to test the nooks and corners of the application, which sometime with just automation background may not be able to bring.