A curious trend has been observed in the QA industry over the last several years. On the one hand, the share of complex automated solutions based on Artificial Intelligence is constantly increasing. On the other hand, the good old manual testing confidently occupies its niche and is clearly not going to lose ground.
This, at first glance, surprising fact has several entirely pragmatic explanations. Here are just a few most obvious and universal ones:
- A human tester is able to provide a report written in a clear, human language, unlike AI, which issues a set of metrics that need to be further interpreted.
- Manual testing provides intelligible feedback on everything related to the user interface.
- In the case of working on a small project, manual testing is several orders of magnitude more expedient than writing scripts for automated tests from an economic point of view.
- This factor is a logical continuation of the previous point: it is much easier to adjust on a small project when testing is done manually. Reprogramming automated processes will be incomparably more protracted, more complicated, and therefore more expensive.
- Room for improvisation in exploratory testing. Obviously, when a tester is not looking for something specific but checks the product for unexpected omissions and inconsistencies, the human mind leaves no chance for Artificial Intelligence.
What specific cases are we talking about?
It goes without saying that no models or approaches should be turned into dogma. Depending on a massive number of factors for each specific application — price, complexity, scope, etc. — the exact testing strategy should be validated. The combination of these factors determines the final decision: does it make sense to limit ourselves exclusively to manual testing services, or is it better to combine manual and automated QA methods?
Now let’s explore some cases where deep automation is not practical, and manual testing — either in an exclusive way or in a combined model — has clear advantages.
The development of a testing strategy begins with the fact that the developer (together with experts who will later be engaged in pre-release software research) needs to evaluate software QA methods and metrics. Here are the most common cases where manual testing is the best choice:
- You are testing a minimum viable product (MVP). The amount of potential changes and adjustments in future iterations of your product make it unreasonable to spend resources on creating automated tests.
- You are focused on exploration testing the UI/UX of your software solution. The importance of usability testing for any application simply cannot be overestimated. At the same time, it is natural that only a human can adequately assess the logic and convenience in user journeys. Therefore, you obviously cannot do without manual testing in this case.
- You need to conduct exploratory testing and identify non-obvious and non-systemic problems that are not amenable to algorithmization. No AI can respond to a nuance that has not been pre-programmed. An experienced tester, on the other hand, has the intuition needed to perform specific checks such as examining the level of foolproofing.
- The life cycle of your application is relatively short, and it doesn’t make sense for you to invest in developing complex tests for the long term. The thing is that the financial threshold for entering a complex QA process is pretty high since it requires serious and varied preparatory work. It requires significant expenses to develop algorithms, write scripts, and identify patterns and cycles that could be automated and then repeatedly reproduced. However, repeating type checks regularly during a long period can save you time and money. If you do not plan such work in the foreseeable future, temporary manual QA would be the most logical solution.
- Manual testing allows you to get an emotional response from the user. In addition, observing the reactions of a live tester can provide valuable feedback for developers who pay great attention to the usability and visual appeal of their application.
What follows from all this?
First of all, it is worth clearing up that Quality Assurance — manual or automated — is a high-tech process that requires special knowledge, experience, and equipment. This means that to determine the best way to test your particular product, you need to work closely with experts in this field. Together with an experienced Quality Assurance company, you will be able to develop a solid testing strategy to provide for the desired result while saving you from unnecessary expenses.