When you purchase a product and realize that it doesn’t deliver what it had promised, who would you blame? The manufacturers or the people who were responsible for making sure the product does what it’s supposed to do?
The point is, every product should be tested before release. That goes double for software. Software testing makes sure the software was developed to meet the expectations and to make sure that the product won’t fail to deliver. QA is never complete without testing. It also helps the developer identify, locate, and fix bugs related to coding, environment, and configurability. In rare cases, testing also opens doors to adding a few bonus features to the product without hassle.
The QA Ecosystem
If there’s one thing that’s as important as the development phase in a software development life cycle, it is quality assurance primarily because it aids stakeholders in understanding the product’s selling point, ROI etc. The results from the QA team will also help the marketing determine a sound strategy for the product.
The key here is the number of tests performed on the product. Performing more number of tests will help identify more bugs. The more bugs eliminated, higher the product quality. However, in many development companies, testing period is cut short to meet the delivery and deployment deadline or to get a competitive edge in the market. Though this might do more harm than good, there is a fact that it’s practically impossible to test a software end-to-end along with regression testing in a short time.
To conclude, manually performing all those tests will take a lot of time unless the company can afford a large number of testers. The budget subsequently increases with the number of testers, which is not an option for many development companies.
This is where testing automation comes in.
You can automate every test on the product from sanity to regression and performance. Automated testing takes a short amount of time, effort, and resources. As human errors won’t be present, accuracy is pretty much guaranteed. These are the main reasons why companies started adopting testing automation policies to deliver high quality products at the right time.
This practice led to one baffling question…
Will manual QA/Testing get completely replaced by automated testing?
From what all the evidence and facts point to, the conclusion still doesn’t provide a solid answer. To a certain extent, automated testing will somewhat replace manual testing. But not completely though as manual testing is the best approach in certain situations like:
- If the product is unstable or riddled with issues that might hinder automated testing in some way
- When the automation framework and its scripts aren’t stable
- If the product is at an early stage of development, and might likely get design changes
- When the budget doesn’t cover automation, and experienced testers (or ones who are familiar with the type of product) are available
But mind you that automation isn’t quite easy to implement, and takes a good effort. But this is just an initial trouble. Once automation is implemented, you will be seeing rapid results, with many additional benefits, which brings us to the various advantages of automating QA.
Advantages of Automation in QA
- Role in regression testing – There are instances where the testers need to run the same test or test the same thing over and over again. This takes too much that the testers could have used in testing other sections. Obviously, automation can make a significant difference here, saving a lot of time.
- Stress/Load/Performance testing – Manually performing these tests would compromise accuracy. Automation is a hero here as well.
- CLI and GUI Testing – Automation can overcome the impractical limitations associated with testing various aspects of CLI and GUI.
- Reusability – It is possible to ‘reuse’ previously conducted tests on different versions of the software without having to write scripts every time.
- Reliability – Automation scripts perform tests systematically based on pre-set standards. The same operation can be performed by these tests, while eliminating human errors.
- Comprehensiveness – Every feature of the product can be tested after building feature-specific test suites.
- Quick and scalable – Automation can run tests considerably faster. Large data volume is of no concern.
- 24×7 testing – 24×7 testing can be quite tedious for humans. Sometimes the product needs to be tested continuously for more than 24 hours to verify its functionalities and figure out inconsistencies. Automation is ideal in such a situation, and enables testers to monitor the results on the go.
Disadvantages of automation in QA
- It’s programmed – Automated tests only check what they are programmed to test. It may not detect certain flaws if it’s not programmed to, and still give a ‘pass’ for the tests. Without specifically prepared test cases, automation is not a good idea.
- Can never replace human intelligence – Test automation is not exactly testing. Testing an exercise that requires deep domain knowledge, experience, and an ability to think out-of-the-box. If the box is a program, automated testing can only think inside the box. It only executes a set of pre-defined test cases to compare the results with expected results. Humans on the other hand can apply proper test cases if they find any anomalies in the product’s behavior.
- High maintenance – To get the best out of automated testing, it needs to be constantly updated. Unless the test packs are up-to-date or relevant, the tests will start failing eventually. Hence, automation requires a lot of time and resources for maintenance.
By now, it should be clear that there are clear merits and demerits to automated testing. However, it can obviously enhance QA efficiency significantly. But for the best results, automated testing should be implemented along with a solid manual testing strategy.
Combining both automated and manual testing will yield better results and ensure a great experience for the end user.