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Software development: Automated vs manual testing

Posted: 25 Jun 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:software testing? software development? SDLC? QA? testers?

This is one of the main reasons we need people to collaborate on testing our products!to attempt to "destroy" the application, to seek out errors, and to think of all the possible ways to wreck digital security, databases, and services. Test cases to complete these actions could definitely be performed by automation, but!speaking from personal experience!the cost of writing those scripts isn't worth it for one fundamental reason: It might only be run once!

When we're planning our project testing, we need to answer some basic questions in order to decide the correct mix of both areas/techniques:
???Project time frame!how much time do we have?
???Core business!how critical is our software to the business running it?
???Who is the targeted audience?
???Costs!are you running on non-freeware technologies and need to consider the cost of licensing?
???How subjective is the application. Are the business rules the application serves too complex?

Considering all the variables, the choice between manual and automated tests usually comes down to a few key issues as follows:

Number of Test Cases: If the test case execution occurs a small number of times, manual testing would be better. For example, projects with a static page, with no database connection, and few elements interacting with the page.

Number of Sub-Projects: If the project is comprised of small projects of a similar type, automation can take care of the features they have in common and you can run a manual test after or before the automated test scenarios to complete the verification.

Time Constraints: Exploratory testing (manually-executed) + automated test are always a good combination for projects where we don't have much time or where requirement specification is poorly written. This type of testing technique requires experienced testers, with creativity and intuition. Automation comes in when we find the spare time to create regression tests for pre-existing features we need to keep an eye on.

In order to answer these three questions and to help find the right mix of tests, we need to have a good vantage on upcoming projects and to consider the pros and cons of both systems. It's impossible to create automated tests for everything and!as always!a minimum amount of tests should be executed for any product.

Figure: Pros and cons.

Finally, we have to keep in mind that!since professional testers and automation tools aren't perfect!bugs can still end up in the final product. It's almost inevitable that no matter how big or small your project, these techniques still need to be matched, considered, and sensibly studied when making testing decisions. The right choice can save you lots of time and offer improved results, minimising the bugs found in production and giving your application more chances to succeed.

About the author
Bruno Soko is an ISTQB-CFTL certified Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer with eight years of experience in software testing and automation. He has experience working at a variety of software and technology firms, including Globant and Hewlett Packard. In 2012, Bruno became a team lead in Whitney University System Company. Bruno is currently a QA Automation Engineer at Monsoon, an Oakland, California-based software development company.


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