There was a time when you didn’t have an alternative, and manual tests were all you could use. It meant acquiring new team members as testers or existing staff investing their time into it. Thanks to technology, we now have test automation. It’s an approach where a computer does the test, and there’s no need for a human tester to execute it.
The idea of automated testing sounds tempting and comes with multiple benefits. Automated testing is a huge time-saver for large-scope and repetitive tests, especially in the long run. Compared to manual testing, which requires human participation in every step, automated testing allows us to run the tests with pre-written scripts. This method allows to shorten the time of the testing process and shows more reliable results than manual testing. But can test automation completely replace manual testing? It’s what we focused on in this article; here’s what we discovered!
How Do Automated Tests Work?
The basic definition of an automated test is that it doesn’t require human involvement while running. Instead, a test automation tool or specialized framework handles the checks.
But if you want to run an automated test, it’s still necessary to adjust the tool. That involves defining test cases and converting them into tests by using the selected program. It means you need an engineer that understands how the tool works and knows how to adjust the settings.
Once everything is ready, you run the test and wait for the results. Depending on the scope, it could take minutes or days to complete. After the computer finishes, you receive a report specifying true or false results.
Which Test Types Are Suitable for Automation?
You can use automated tests during the entire software development process. Here are some suitable test examples:
- Unit tests. You can check specific functions and analyze if they work correctly. These are convenient for automation since you can run them repeatedly.
- Integration tests. Developers use these checks to see if software subunits function the way they expect.
- Functional and other system tests. For example, does the required information load after the user completes a form? You can also perform smoke tests to check the software’s functionality and regression tests to check if new code hasn’t brought any old bugs back.
- Acceptance tests. You can design A/B and performance tests to make them automated.
Can Automated Tests Completely Replace Manual Tests?
Test automation versatility sounds nice, but can it be enough during software development? The answer is – no. Automated tests can never fully replace manual testing. The estimation is you can automate about 70% of all checks done on the software. However, this depends on the app type developed and other specifics.
The reason why you also need manual testing is simple – it’s the only viable option in some situations. Here are some situations where manual tests are necessary!
You Can’t Automate Usability Tests
An automated test requires a clear determinant to decide what’s “right” or “wrong.” But when it comes to usability, not everything is black or white.
The idea of a usability test is to improve the experience of users using the software, website, or app. Manual testers should perform this process to offer valuable feedback. Furthermore, you should have multiple users testing the software to deliver more detailed information.
Exploratory Tests Can Uncover Important Issues
Exploratory testing virtually includes “fishing” for a bug or another issue. The idea is to try each function or open every website page. You aren’t looking for a specific problem, but your task is to note any potential issues you encounter. Exploratory tests often include suggesting better solutions for a particular feature. A computer can’t do that, and it’s necessary to handle this manually.
Small Projects and Teams Might Use Manual Testing for Financial Reasons
You see the true power of automated tests on large-scope projects. Computers can analyze big chunks of data at a fast rate. You save time while ensuring engineers can continue working on developing other features. It’s a wise long-term investment that provides plenty of bang for the buck.
But if you are only working on small apps and simple tools, perhaps you don’t have the need to invest in automatic testing. That’s why compact teams decide to spend a bit more time manually testing the software but save money they’d invest in test automation tools.
Manual Tests Are Suitable for One-Time Tests
Automated tests require time to create scripts and adjust tool parameters. Depending on the desired test cases, that could take minutes or hours. But what if you need to run that test only once and there’s no plan to repeat it? A manual check in an identical situation might take less time than preparing an automated test, making it a logical choice.
There’s a clear trend toward test automation in software development. It’s understandable since companies prefer computers running the tests and delivering reliable results while freeing up the human workforce. But despite the huge technological progress, it’s almost impossible to expect test automation to completely replace manual testing. Your goal is to find the optimal balance for each project. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of test automation whenever possible, but don’t forget about the importance of manual testing!