May 9, 2024 Read 5 Min

Man & Machine: The QA Testing Powerhouse

Forget the “man vs. machine” myth! In software testing, just like many fields, humans and technology thrive when they collaborate. This article dives into this winning teamwork, featuring insights from our Lead Software QA Engineer.

The first sparks of the “man vs. machines” conflict started with the Industrial Revolution. It completely changed how things were done and cemented the concept of “productivity and efficiency”.

Today, a new wave of automation fueled by machine learning threatens to reshape the world once more.

And a familiar panic sets in.

Some rush to craft regulations to slow the inevitable. But history whispers a truth: progress thrives on cooperation — a middle ground between humans and machines. 

This article explores that very concept but in the realm of software testing, where humans and automation work harmoniously to achieve optimal results.

QA Testing: A Brief Recap

In this day and age, frictionless user experiences are a necessity. If one lacks it, they’re setting their digital products up for failure.

But, nobody is exempted from mistakes, not even expert coders and designers. We can, however, minimize the mistakes through a critical stage in the software development lifecycle: QA Testing. 

QA (Quality Assurance) testing is the process of finding defects in software applications. Apps are put through rigorous tests to ensure it meet the requirements and work as intended. 

At the forefront of this are QA engineers, who push software to its limits, recognizing and tackling issues before they impact users. 

Apps are evaluated for; functionality, performance, usability, security, and compatibility among other aspects, which are often conducted in two ways —

Manual vs. Automation

Briefly, manual testing relies on manual labor i.e. humans to conduct the tests. It’s best suited for initial exploration, usability testing, and tasks requiring human judgment.

On the opposite end, automated testing leverages tools into their evaluation process. For most repetitive tasks, regression testing, and achieving wider test coverage efficiently, automated testings are invaluable.

Both approaches offer distinct benefits to QA teams depending on the situation:

DifferencesManualAutomation
CostLower upfront cost, but higher in the long runHigher initial investment, but can reduce significantly in the long-term
EfficiencySlower for repetitive tasks and large test suitesFaster and efficient execution of repetitive tasks
AdaptabilityMore adaptable to software changes as human testers can quickly adjust testing strategiesLess flexible to changes as it may need to be updated when changes happened
AccuracyProne to human error as it relies on human judgementLess prone to human error, but relies on accuracy of written test scripts
ScalabilityTakes more time to scale as it needs additional resourcesScalable without significant increases in resources
Test CoverageLimited by human capabilities and time constraints.Greater test coverage by running many tests quickly and repeatedly.
Risk MitigationEffective at identifying critical issues and potential user experience issuesReduces the risk of regression bugs, but may miss certain types of issues that require human intuition
The 7 Differences: Manual vs. Automation

Modern QA Testing: A Combined Approach

To automate or not to automate, that is the age-old question. 

While automation may appear to be the obvious choice, it carries its own risks just as relying solely on manual testing. 

Therefore, the best strategy is to combine the strengths of both methods and implement a balanced approach to testing.

However, a few considerations should be weighed before implementing a combined QA testing practice.

1. Project Characteristics

To determine whether a combined approach works for you, consider the project’s complexity first. 

Will it be a long-term endeavor with frequent enhancements, evolving requirements, and phased releases? Or is it a short-term project with a well-defined scope?

Highly complex projects with intricate functionalities may require more manual testing upfront to fully understand the system’s behavior before effectively translating those tests into automated scripts. 

Or it may even benefit more from automation due to the potential for regression testing and ongoing maintenance.

Your QA approach all comes down to your project’s traits and requirements.

2. Manual Test Coverage

Before diving into automation, evaluate your existing manual test coverage.

Are there sufficient manual tests to serve as a foundation for automation? Prioritize automating core functionalities and user flows with well-established manual test cases. 

Automating tests with low coverage or underdeveloped functionalities might lead to missed critical bugs.

3. Resource and Technology

Next, consider the development technology used in your project. Select an automation framework compatible with your development stack for seamless integration.

It’s also crucial to consider the expertise of your team. 

Do you have skilled testers who understand automation principles? Who can effectively create and maintain automated scripts?

A general rule of thumb is your resources should:

  • Reduce the duration to complete the task
  • Reduce testing efforts
  • Improve test accuracy

4. Cost-Benefit Analysis

Following this, you should carefully consider the resource allocation strategy for both manual and automation testing efforts. 

Combining these approaches requires an investment in training, framework setup, and script development.

So, how many resources and time are you willing to spend?

Consider the trade-off between time and resources. While a larger team may expedite the automation process, it also increases costs. A smaller team might take longer but could be more cost-effective.

Manual + Automation: the Process

While merging manual and automated testing can appear complex, the execution flow is quite direct. Here’s a break down of its general workflow:

1. Test Plan & Case Documentation

The process begins with establishing a comprehensive test plan that defines the overall testing strategy. 

A well-documented test case outlines specific functionalities, expected behaviors, and test data to help better understand the software’s functionality, user requirements, and overall project goals. 

They serve as a blueprint for the testing phases and ensure all team members are aligned with the objectives and methods.

2. Concurrent Development 

As the backend development progresses, it is recommended to initiate API automation immediately. This allows for early identification and resolution of API-related issues. 

3. Early stage development

At the same time, QA teams should also prioritize manual testing. This is crucial for evaluating core functionalities, user interface (UI) usability, user experience (UX), and overall performance. 

Ensure that testing is conducted across various platforms and devices to ensure a seamless user experience for your target audience.

4. Automation Integration

Once core functionalities are established, begin automating tests for high-priority features with a low risk of change in the near future. 

This focuses automation efforts on critical areas and helps maintain application stability alongside reducing time for regression and e2e testing. 

5. Iteration and refinement with automation

With the establishment of a suite of automated tests, any new changes introduced in the build will trigger these tests automatically. 

This part of the process is crucial: if an automated test fails, the build is rejected, and developers are notified to address the issue. 

This practice not only enforces a high standard of code quality but also significantly reduces the manual effort required in regression testing.

Best Practices

1. Focus manual on the human experience

UI and UX demand human interaction to ensure accurate evaluation. Testers can assess intuitiveness, visual appeal, and user flow in a way automation can’t replicate. Hence, it’s better if this part of the QA process is conducted by a QA engineer directly.

Similarly, exploratory and usability testing with real users provides invaluable insights into how people interact with the product. Unstructured exploratory testing allows testers to delve into the software and discover unforeseen issues. 

2. Automate stable and repetitive tasks

Once a manual test case is proven reliable, automate it to save time and resources during future development cycles. Automating regression testing ensures core functionalities remain intact after code changes.

3. Comprehensive reporting

A clear and detailed reporting is crucial for efficient debugging. When automated tests fail, well-documented reports help pinpoint the source of the problem quickly, minimizing troubleshooting time.

The Path to Bug-Free Apps

By integrating both manual and automated testing methodologies, your QA strategy can encompass the full spectrum of what modern software demands— operational excellence and superior user satisfaction. 

At Snappymob, we embody this dual approach in our commitment to delivering seamless, state-of-the-art software solutions. 

Our team of expert “bug catchers” is dedicated to ensuring that every application we develop meets the highest standards of quality and innovation.

If you’re striving for a flawless application that offers both top-tier functionality and a frictionless user experience, look no further.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us help you achieve the flawless software your users deserve.