Software development is more than just writing lines of code. There’s planning, strategizing, development, DevOps, and at the final stage, testing. Two approaches can be taken for software testing – manual and automated.
In most projects, you must skillfully combine manual and automated testing for the most comprehensive testing. However, both approaches are not entirely interchangeable and have significant differences.
This article covers only manual testing in detail; you can read more about automation testing here. Let’s start from the beginning.
What is manual testing?
Manual testing is an approach that evaluates the performance of software and examines its features from the end-user perspective to assess its quality. It is much more intensive QA testing as it involves human testers closely monitoring the code quality, identifying existing defects, and anticipating any possible weaknesses.
The profound impact of manual testing results from its four-stage process.
A manual testing project starts with a requirement study that involves testers getting acquainted with quality assurance requirements. QA engineers understand the software’s needs, objectives, operating principles, main features and functions, and possible vulnerabilities at this stage.
The next step is to design test cases to examine all possible use cases of the software. Testers can use Excel sheets to document their test cases, but if the project is large, it is not the most efficient way. There are efficient case management tools for manual testers like Kissflow, Appian, and Alfresco that can help them document test cases and automate the workflow.
Testing and bug reporting follow the test case design. Manual testers create the environment to live test the software. They continuously log bugs that they come across using a bug-tracking system.
The final step is the analysis of manual testing results. Here, the aim is to generate valuable metrics to help developers fix defects and bugs.
When to use manual testing?
Some people believe that test automation is a replacement for manual testers. QA engineers understand that manual testing is indispensable for several reasons.
1. Certain tests can only be successful manually
For instance, user experience testing during quality assurance cannot be complete without manual testing. You can automate the UX/UI testing workflow, but only a human can adequately perform tasks like an end user. Compatibility and interactions are essential for mobile devices, and any app, if deployed without manual testing, risks being buggy.
2. Large software almost always has hidden bugs
Automated testing might be able to discover most bugs testing a small-scale software product, but when things go to the enterprise level, it is impossible to detect hidden bugs. Machines can be programmed to test for specific bugs. But manual testers run into hidden bugs during their routine tasks. Automation testing can never detect such defects.
3. When budget is a constraint
Automated testing can be expensive. If your budget is low, you do not want to spend your initial investments on testing the product before it can hit the market. Due to its low maintenance expenses, manual testing is a more suitable option here.
4. Automation often falls behind sprints
Maintaining automated test cases is no easy job. You have to update the scripts for performance and validity continuously. It is difficult for automated testing to keep up with frequent software update releases. Manual testing can manage to be in sync with sprints.
5. Repetition and variability
Any effective QA testing will have two characteristics – repetition and variability. Automated testing is excellent for repetitive testing processes, but that’s not enough. Without manual testing, you cannot introduce variability in the process. This is why automation is often combined with manual testing.
Common myths surrounding manual testing
As a manual tester, you might often hear these myths:
- Manual testing is easy: If you think anyone can do manual testing, then you are misinformed. It requires skills and a certain mindset to be a successful manual tester.
- Automation will replace manual testing: Again, it’s impossible to simulate human interaction with the software entirely. Manual testers will always remain relevant.
- QA engineers are only involved in the post-development stage: Companies with successful products know that testers must work simultaneously with developers to catch bugs early on. Including testers in the final step is a risky venture.
Best tools for manual testing
Depending on the stage at which you are conducting the manual testing, you can pick from these tools:
Manual testing remains an essential aspect of successful software products. As software becomes more user-oriented, manual testers are becoming increasingly important in guiding the efficiency of automated testing.
Talent500 is the remote team-building platform for Fortune 500 companies and fast-growing startups to build their tech teams. To join our elite pool of talent, sign up here.