Efficient Manual Testing: Need and Challenges

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First, we should understand manual testing correctly.

Manual testing means developing and executing the tests which rely primarily on human interaction directly throughout the whole test case, particularly in terms of correctness evaluation and test status ascertaining (warn, pass, fail etc.)

In contrast, automated testing involves developing and executing the tests able to run unattended, also including comparing actual and expected behaviors and status logging.

Manual testing may involve using tools for creating specific test conditions like error conditions, background loads etc. or capture internal system states and performance statistics. In conditions of test automation, testers fire off the test scripts, then walk away and return over some hours for checking results logs. While in case of manual testing testers enter the data at their input devices and then actively observe the output devices.

There are 5 reasons why manual testing is needed.

Complete test automation looks perfect to tight budgets and schedules. A couple of test engineers are able to start tests, run them and analyze the results. They would spend their time on such critical tasks as isolating, reproducing and reporting bugs while expending a minimal effort to actually run the tests. Unfortunately, such a nice picture of easy life in the testing industry is unreal. In fact, multiple obstacles bar the way to complete tests automation on a common test project.

  1. To start with, the tested system has to undergo frequent change in the course of a regular development project. Besides, automated tests may need some frequent and extensive updates due to different concurrent tweaks to the core logic, user interface, API etc. If keyword-driven automation techniques can control such a problem somehow, automated tests’ maintenance often takes an ongoing cost which at times overwhelms the QA team during the test execution.
  2. Developing automated tests requires significant time and money investments. Having a tight schedule and limited budgets, a QA team can automate only a few tests possibly leading to dangerous coverage gaps in case they are not supported by manual tests.
  3. You may also find that the market lacks some suitable and affordable tools for test automation specifically for your configuration, especially if your company deals with cutting-edge products using new technologies like smartphones and tablets. Whatever your configuration is in this case, you are almost certainly to develop your test scaffolds as well as harnesses for all custom APIs to be tested automatically.
  4. You might not have very skilled staff in you QA team so that to pull off the automation efforts, especially in tight timeframes. These skills take experience and time to acquire even with training, so, if you cannot afford test automation consultants, you are unlikely to have the proper talent available if your staff has no significant test automation experience from other projects.
  5. At last, some risks of the critical quality to your product, the tests which need execution the most, may be not amenable to test automation. For example, compatibility, configuration and UI testing, as a rule, require much manual interaction.

Manual testing also has its challenges.

For the above reasons as well as some others, you are sure to find yourself dealing with a lot of manual testing. Though, it’s not that easy either. Among the challenges to solve are:

  • what test technicians new to the software testing field need to know;
  • what the career path of your manual test technicians should be to qualify as test engineers;
  • whether you can accelerate the schedule and increase the use of rare equipment by means of manual testing;
  • what pitfalls await your test manager during running manual tests;
  • whether you can sell management on the plan etc.

As you can see, manual testing need is rather justified, but its maintenance has many challenges which require QA knowledge and management talent to handle.