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Is There any Future for Manual Testing?

Future of Manual Testing

As the world of software development becomes more and more competitive, the customers become more spoiled with high-quality applications. It is clear why most companies today have either already adopted or are considering adopting automated testing. Some even strive for 100% automation coverage. But is it feasible, and does it mean automation will soon wipe out manual testing? Let’s look closer into that.

Why do companies shift towards test automation?

First, let’s summarize all of the main advantages of automated testing over manual:
  • Speed of execution. Full regression can easily take the team multiple days to complete. With automation, you will typically get results within hours or even minutes (depending on the tool being used, test suite size, etc.).
  • Fast turnaround time leads to fast feedback. If a full regression takes three days and a critical bug is found towards the end of this time period – this means 2.5 days of lost time and a potentially delayed release. And many times, regression will commence from the beginning after the bug fix.
  • CI/CD integration. It’s simply impossible to build these processes with manual testing.
  • Robustness. Manual testing is prone to human error, and there’s always a chance some steps might be skipped or overlooked when going through the same set of test cases over and over each time. Automated testing is much more robust when configured correctly.
  • QA team well-being. Strong leaders know that a team’s happiness and satisfaction directly correlate with the quality of work performed. Manually executing the same set of regression tests each time might feel like a waste of time. Automation requires the QA team to participate in more intelligent and creative tasks, such as increasing test coverage or exploratory or user experience testing.

Does this mean all testing will be 100% automated very soon?

It’s quite unlikely. After all, testing should always be efficient, and in certain scenarios, building automation will take too long and won’t bring enough value to justify its cost. For example, when the product is in a very early stage of development, perhaps it just hit the market, and new functions and design modifications are being added every day. In such a case, it will make more sense to continue testing manually until the product reaches some level of maturity.

As for the types of testing when it cannot or should not be automated – we’ll talk about it next.

“When the product is in a very early stage of development…it will make more sense to continue testing manually until the product reaches some level of maturity.”

When testing cannot or should not be automated

There can be limitations from multiple perspectives. For example, the testing framework you’re working with might support mobile app testing, but not web – therefore, you won’t be able to create an end-to-end test for resetting user passwords through email. Another limitation example is a captcha, which cannot be automated by design.

There are multiple types of tests that should not be automated:
  • UX tests, where testers access user experience. Some might argue that it’s not QA’s responsibility. Still, oftentimes testers have the best knowledge of the product as a whole – and therefore can provide valuable feedback when it comes to improving user experience.
  • Exploratory tests. Although record-and-playback automation can sometimes assist in this type of testing, exploratory testing should be done manually in general. It’s the best way to uncover new user flows and add or improve test cases.
  • Tests without predictable results. Automated tests should always have success criteria for passing or failing.

Why automation is hard

Automated tests help tremendously and save much time when they are stable and robust, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Traditional automation requires well-defined architecture and properly structured tests; otherwise, tests can be flaky, and maintenance will quickly become a gloomy daily task. Automated tests also typically take a long time to build, which makes some companies hold back when considering adopting automation.

So what does the future hold for the QA professionals?

So we’ve discussed that automation brings rich benefits and cost savings, which is why more and more companies are adopting it. And although there are still some areas that cannot or should not be automated – QA professionals should start learning automation now if they want to stay in demand for the years to come.

Luckily, today there are low-code or no-code next-generation tools where users can automate complex tests using only plain English commands. testRigor solves all of the main issues with automation – it’s effortless to set up, doesn’t require any coding skills to write complex tests, supports true end-to-end testing, and tests are extremely stable and robust.