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Manual vs. Automated Testing: Which One Is Right for Your Project

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25/10/2023 |

7 min read

Codete Team

The manual testing vs automated testing dilemma may no longer be the case in many instances as the automation of the software product validation has been a very strong tendency in recent years. However, manual testing is still in use, as manual testers can bring added value on several occasions.

But what are these cases? When and why use manual testing over automated? And what are the benefits of testing automation and restrictions in its use? In this article, we’ll try to answer these questions, putting special attention on automation as the trending and more versatile testing type.

Table of contents:

1. Manual testing vs. automated testing – an overview

2. Manual testing in a nutshell

3. Automated testing: why it’s gaining momentum

4. Manual vs. automated testing: which is best?


Manual testing vs. automated testing – an overview

Before a software program or application hits the market, it needs to meet strict quality requirements – with the right quality assurance strategies, and software testing methods on board. And that’s where software testing comes to play, taking the form of one of the two general types: 

  • manual testing,
  • automated testing.

These days, software development is often agile development, and the latter usually entails using automated testing tools. However, with 75% of all functional testing still performed manually, manual testing has not yet said its final word and manual testers are here to stay for quite some time.

Hybrid testing model

And there’s the thorough hybrid testing approach that can integrate elements of both manual and automated testing techniques. Its strength lies in joining the advantages of the two, resolving model dependency, and enabling early delivery and high-quality releases.

The combination of different approaches gives organizations greater flexibility and more possibilities to adapt the testing process to their current business needs swiftly. Scalability, sustainability, and optimal resource use can all be in the cards when a hybrid testing model is in use. 

But now, let’s have a look at the participants of the automated testing vs. manual testing opposition, taken individually. How do they work and what do they have to offer?

Manual testing in a nutshell

In brief, manual testing is a software test procedure that doesn’t require any tools. Individual QA testers – that often don’t need to have a broad app development background – are in the center here, looking for any irregularities, discrepancies, or defects that could disable IT products’ proper functioning.

Manual testing is a testing process that requires strict guidelines to follow. To make this undertaking smooth and manageable, a manual testing checklist is being prepared. It enumerates the tasks and activities that need to be performed, recorded, and tracked by the QA team.

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Some items the manual checklist should cover include: 

  • a list of tests to run,
  • a test approach,
  • test data,
  • test team composition.

On top of that, a document (e.g. an Excel spreadsheet) or a test case template should be prepared for gathering and analyzing test results. Of course, the bottom line of the testing procedure should not be just finding the vulnerabilities, but also fixing them. 

Automated testing: why it’s gaining momentum

Automated testing can be referred to as „a process that validates if software is functioning appropriately and meeting requirements before it is released into production. This software testing method uses scripted sequences that are executed by testing tools”. In other words, software tools replace human hands to make software products reviewed and validated faster. 

Automated tests are the core of Continuous Testing – an integral part of DevOps – with the testing team embedded in the process of testing applications throughout the whole software development life cycle (SDLC), at its different stages. This way, automated tests help eliminate many business risks.

Benefits of automated testing

With the use of automated test scripts and appropriate automated testing tools, tests, and their results tend to be more accurate, unambiguous, and reliable. The bottom line is getting bug-free IT products, with any detected issues tackled promptly and effectively.

Very often, automated tests are praised for being time-efficient – but it’s not only that they are performed faster than manual ones; there’s more. On top of that, they can be reused across multiple releases and batch execution is an option, too.

There’s even a measurement called an automated testing ROI that indicates how much time has been saved with the use of test automation compared to what things would look like with manual testing. The optimum results can be achieved with the adoption of best practices for automated testing.

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What can be very helpful here, is choosing the right test automation framework, such as Selenium, Cypress, EarlGrey, Serenity, Appium, Robot Framework, and Katalon, many of which are open-source tools. Test automation frameworks can be data-driven, modular, keyword-driven, hybrid, and behavior-driven, to name but a few major types.

Manual vs. automated testing: which is best?

Testing is an inevitable part of software development – as prevention is better than cure. Unit testing, automation testing, system testing, functional testing, and performance testing are only some of the levels, methods, or types of testing. But which software testing type is best? And when and why use manual testing over automated?

With so many benefits automated testing offers, it’s good to remember that there’s no golden standard or universal method to follow to succeed. Before choosing any testing type or technique, you should align it to the very project and tread carefully.

To decide what test cases to automate, many factors should be taken into consideration, such as the software project’s timeline and scope, as well as available resources (e.g., funds, employees, and team competencies). But first of all, it’s the nature and specificity of the project that should count.

It’s good to keep in mind that a traditional QA team used to test software manually. This might have been not very efficient or accurate, but this type of testing should not be treated as something completely obsolete but rather a complementary solution you can, but don’t have to reach out for.

When to choose manual testing?

There are certain cases when using manual testing may prove to be more reasonable than going with the automation flow. Some of them include:

  • frequent feature updates as they require relevant test adjustments for each of such updates;
  • basic, exploratory, functionality, compatibility, usability, and integration testing;
  • testing applications or software of great complexity where automating everything is not a good way to go;
  • cases when tests only need to be performed occasionally – not to waste resources needed to prepare and execute an automated test;
  • inability to use automated testing tools due to insufficient funds or employees’ skills.

As far as automated tests are concerned, they are useful in many instances, such as functional acceptance tests, component tests, unit tests, and system tests. Interestingly, nonfunctional acceptance tests can be performed either automatically or manually.

Limitations of automated testing

However, automated tests are not a remedy for every problem and they can fail, too. For example, these tests sometimes pass even though bugs are present, e.g., when a try/catch block is used. Unfortunately, automated test overuse may end up with time, money, and efficiency losses as laborious preparations for automated testing may simply not be needed.

Of course, automated tests are priceless in cases of multiple releases of software or applications, enhancing test coverage, and improving accuracy. However, they can’t be used without sufficient expertise and experience, and the entire context needs to be taken into consideration.

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Still don’t know how to select the right manual testing software or automated testing tool? Confused about choosing the most appropriate testing procedure? If you want to be on the safe side but don’t know what to start with, contact Codete now.

Rated: 5.0 / 2 opinions
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Codete Team

Codete is an IT consulting and software development company. Since 2010, we’ve been supporting businesses worldwide in gaining competitive advantage by means of modern technology. We advise on digitalization, develop and implement high-quality solutions, and augment our clients’ teams with skilled software developers.

Our mission is to accelerate your growth through technology

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