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Will Automation Eliminate Manual Testing?

Leoraj Devaraj

October 21, 2020

We live in an era where software development has been revolutionized by AI (Artificial Intelligence) & ML (Machine Learning). It is expected that manual testing will be taken over by automation with its new developments and advancements, but that is not the case. Software manual testing has been around for many decades since initial software development, and the industry has taken multiple shifts. However, its scope remains the same. In this article, let us explore the impact automation testing has on manual software testing.

Why is manual testing still relevant?

New Projects: Projects in pilot phases that begin as a concept and take shape during early sprints require manual testing. Using automation testing during the initial phase of software development would be expensive as it undergoes continuous changes. But, leveraging direct human involvement in testing through manual testing would be cost-efficient and easy to accommodate changes.

End 2 End Testing: Automated testing can be used to test single systems or integration levels in detail. Whereas End 2 End testing involves multiple systems and requires manual testing. Automation testing that runs an End 2 End test scenario has many challenges, especially systems that have different tech stacks. Design changes involving systems in End 2 End testing impacts maintenance cost.

Maintenance Cost: For small projects or components, automated testing costs are higher than manual testing. Performing quick manual testing would suffice for smaller projects/ components that undergo frequent changes rather than updating test scripts after rerunning those tests manually.

UX Testing: Maintenance costs are proportional to UX changes. With each UI/UX change, test cases break and raise a false fail. When changes are encountered in a script, there is rework / maintenance to achieve the test pass. This impacts the next UI changes again. So, for an application with frequent UI/UX changes, automation testing is costlier than manual software testing.

Visual Testing:

While there are few automation tools available in the market, AI & ML are incorporated with visual testing to achieve 100% test resulst. But the number of hours required to train AI to understand minute changes in UI would be expensive than performing manual tests. Sometimes, human eyes can find a little misaligned text box, which could be challenging for an automation tool. Such automation tools with AI & ML are expensive compared to the advantages of manual testing.

User Acceptance Testing: There is no way usability testing could be automated. Beta users/client teams must experience the end product by simulating user experience using manual testing.

How automation testing can be leveraged?

Let us discuss the areas where automation has to be implemented to support manual testing benefits.

Regression: When a part of the product is regression and the product or UI changes, tests have to be automated using open source software. Using automation testing can therefore save manual testing time.

Integration Testing: API level automation can be quickly created like manual testing. Manual software testing tools like Postman enables us to create tests that can be automated using the runner feature. When manual testing is performed, requests are stored as a collection. This stored collection can be run any time as a test suite to rerun the test scenarios.

Smoke Test on CI/CD: Automating test scripts for smaller projects are expensive. However, using smoke test scenario would reduce the cost. Smoke tests undergo changes to get added to CI/CD pipeline for project code deployment capturing blocker/showstopper issues during code deploy to QA/Stg environment, before the code is released to production.

Conclusion:

Manual and automation testing complement each other. Manual software testing services are as important as automated testing, and there can be no project that is purely manual. There will always be an area where automation can be leveraged with open source tools that are no-cost and low maintenance. No project can completely use automation testing as client expectation keeps changing; manual testing is the way to handle frequent changes and ad-hoc testing requests. It is up to the project management to decide how and where automated and manual testing have to be implemented to provide a customer satisfied product delivery.

By

Leoraj Devaraj

QA Manager

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