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Automated testing vs. manual testing: efficient co-living

Natallia Pleshkun
Natallia Pleshkun

Software QA Engineer

May 12, 2021


Automated testing vs. manual testing: efficient co-living

Automated testing vs. manual testing: efficient co-living

Natallia Pleshkun
Natallia Pleshkun

Software QA Engineer

May 12, 2021


Automated testing vs. manual testing: efficient co-living
There is no doubt that quality is essential for customer engagement and satisfaction as these two notions are vital to product success. Therefore, a necessary step in project growth is to choose a cost-efficient quality approach that ensures the app does not have a single glitch. To build a quality assurance process, one needs to answer the question: manual, automated testing, or both?  

The pros and cons of testing approaches have become a recurring theme among QA specialists. For instance, the Guru99 team elaborated on the topic in their article. It’s worth noting that the conditions for applying automation count as well. This time let’s discuss a project that needs two types of testing. 

Having both manual and automated testing is an excellent match for rapidly-growing applications with numerous new features on the roadmap. In this case, while the manual QA team is giving thorough attention to a newly developed functionality, the test automation team creates test scripts for an already tested and stabilized scope. When applied properly, these measures will boost time-to-market.

Test automation value for manual testing

Manual and automation QA teams aren't competitors. Instead, they facilitate each other’s everyday tasks. Let’s dive in and see which manual QA responsibilities can be solved by automated testing.

First, regression testing. Whenever a new feature is implemented, or a bug fix is coming in, the manual team needs to focus on testing these changes. Automation comes in handy running the regression cycle to ensure that new code hasn’t broken old user flows.

Big amounts of data. Even if the manual QA team consists of maths professionals, there is always a possibility of human mistakes whenever they need to calculate 100 different values one by one. At the same time, automation never fails in inserting values and making calculations.

Cross-platform and cross-browser testing. Let’s presume that the application is released for two mobile platforms under different OS versions or different web browsers. It takes a lot of time for the manual team to run tests on every platform in such a case. At the same time, an automation script written once will do the job for every platform and version needed.

Localization. If the app is adapted to different languages, it is essential to make sure it works fine following the changes. UI issues will not be found by automation - that’s true. But some languages like Arabic have different navigation, and autotests can easily detect if all the elements are following the rules.

Having those tasks performed by automated test scripts, the manual QA team can focus on exploratory testing, requirements thorough investigation, functional, and UI/UX testing. It is important to note that the feature can be automated only after it is fully tested by manual QA engineers and stabilized by the dev team. Otherwise, test scripts will require constant changes and will not show the actual statistics.

Co-living rules

For successful cooperation between manual and automation teams, it’s advisable to outline the responsibilities clearly. You have to be sure that the process is consistent for both sides. Let’s talk about manual QA engineers first.

The manual testing team should provide full and clear test cases for the test automation. This is the key connection between the manual and automation teams, and it is important to include all required information into test documentation. Otherwise, the automation QA team will have to ask for the details or make decisions themselves constantly. This way, the test script might appear checking something totally different from the check the QA engineer had in mind.

QA specialists should keep test documentation up to date according to the latest app changes. If test documentation is outdated, the automation team might consider app behavior as a bug and lose priceless time on communication and investigation. Prioritizing test cases for the automation team is crucial. Manual testers know best what can be considered a priority right now. Therefore, the manual team should decide on the scope of automation engineers’ work in the current sprint.

Manual QA engineers should inform the automation team about the desired environments for test runs - OS, device models, web browser version, screen resolution, or any other setup needed to evaluate the app quality. Manual testers track issues found by autoscripts. They know current boards, sprints, and dev team priorities better. They should control issues found by the automation team to make sure they get fixed in time.

If manual QA engineers fulfill these responsibilities, the automation team can smoothly increase automation test coverage and contribute to the overall app quality. However, creating test scripts is not the only automation engineer’s task. They also need to: 

  • Review test runs daily and analyze the results to distinguish test script failures, app bugs, and any other types of issues. This way, app test coverage will increase, and test automation will provide reliable reports and metrics.
  • Inform the manual QA team about all issues found by autotests or during writing a test script. If anything looks suspicious, it is always better to discuss with manual QA guards.
  • Increase autotests performance. Test results are usually required ASAP to speed up the release. Therefore, automation test scripts should run at the highest speed possible to ensure fast time-to-market.
  • Provide test automation reports that are accessible by everyone in the team. The test reports are essential in making final release decisions and tracking the app quality on different stages. They should be clear for anyone with or without project knowledge, showing the app's quality divided into modules and features.

On a final note

The collaboration of manual and automated testing is a key to fast releases and high standards of quality. However, it is important to have both teams motivated: they should contribute to each other’s work to achieve the best results. If the responsibilities are defined clearly and both sides follow them day-to-day, the teams can entirely focus on their tasks without wasting time on communication and process setup. This way, one can be sure that the app’s quality is in safe hands.

Automated and manual testing: how do they correlate?
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