Automation testing is a process performed on software to ensure it functions properly while meeting the requirements before being released into production. The automated testing method implies using scripted sequences that are executed by tools designed specifically for this reason, such as Selenium, Cypress, Appium or Katalon Studio.
Undoubtedly, the advantages of automation testing cannot be overlooked. Automating tests can save up time and staff resources, improve defect detection, increases test coverage, and so on, yet despite these convenient solutions, performing only automation testing on a software product is one of the biggest software testing mistakes, and here’s why:
The pitfalls of performing only automation testing: key points
- Not all test cases should be automated. The QA team must determine which test cases should be automated and which are more suited for manual testing.
- Depending on the nature of a project, automation testing might prove more costly than performing manual testing.
- The human perspective cannot be replaced by repeatable processes. There are situations where the QA team performs ad-hoc testing, which does not have a specific target in mind or specific requirements, such as documentation or test plans.
- On the same note, a human perspective is also required for exploratory testing, where the QA team’s knowledge of the project comes in handy for specially designed test steps and more creative testing to root out any potential bugs that automation tests have missed.
- Manual testing is mandatory for usability testing. It is not sufficient for a software product to be bug-free. Manual tests are performed to ensure the product is efficient, convenient, and user-friendly for end-users.
- Automated tests may not always be flexible enough to adapt to changes in the software or requirements. Test scripts can become outdated or require constant maintenance to stay relevant, while manual testers can quickly adapt to changes and provide valuable feedback on new features or modifications.
- Automation tests can have false positives and false negatives, leading to either overlooked issues or wasted time on non-existent problems. Human testers can use their judgment and experience to determine whether a reported issue is genuinely a problem that needs to be addressed.
- Automated testing can be limited by the quality of the test scripts themselves. If the test scripts are not well-written, they may not effectively detect issues, whereas manual testers have a deeper understanding of the application’s behavior and can identify issues more accurately.
- Complex test scenarios: Some test cases involve complex scenarios, which can be hard to simulate or replicate with automation scripts. Manual testing, on the other hand, allows testers to approach these situations with creativity and intuition.
- Dynamic content and layouts: Automation testing can struggle with dynamic content, such as ever-changing user interfaces, personalized content, or responsive designs. Manual testers can better identify issues related to these aspects and ensure proper functionality and presentation.
- Test case maintenance: As the application evolves, test cases also need to be updated. Maintaining automated test scripts can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. It may not always be feasible to automate every scenario, especially when dealing with frequent changes.
- Subjective evaluation: Some aspects of software quality, such as aesthetics or ease of use, cannot be objectively measured by automated testing. In these cases, manual testing is necessary to assess the user experience and ensure the software meets end-user expectations.
- Edge cases and rare scenarios: Automated tests are typically designed to cover common use cases and workflows. However, they may not account for edge cases or rare scenarios that could lead to unexpected behavior. Manual testers can better explore these scenarios and uncover hidden issues.
Although automation testing has proven advantages, we are still far from using it alone. In this article, we have proven the pitfalls of relying solely on automation testing, thus neglecting the importance of manual testing throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC), particularly when it comes to addressing issues where the manual human output is crucial for delivering functional, bug-free products that are also user-friendly.