To Automate or Not to Automate, That Is the Question

Different types of mobile testing devices

Functional testing is an integral part of any development project. That is why there comes a point in every project when it is necessary to answer the following questions: what kind of testing to choose, at which stage of development it is necessary to start testing, how carefully it should be conducted, what time interval should be provided for testing and others. The answers to these questions mostly depend on the specifics of the project (functional requirements, team size, deadlines, risks, budget), but one trend remains unchanged – the wrong approach to testing guarantees problems in the development cycle and has serious consequences.

Among the least harmful consequences is the failure to meet the deadlines or exceeding the budget. In the worst case, incorrect testing can lead to the fact that eventually the product will not perform the tasks set and the client will not receive a product that meets his needs. This article discusses the factors that will help you choose the optimal type of functional testing.

Advantages of test automation

At the moment, there is a tendency towards automation in the world, because it allows to reduce the execution time of certain tasks, to free a person from monotonous work, and sometimes to perform actions more efficiently than a person could do. Not surprisingly, in the information technology field, automated testing has taken a firm position. The following are the advantages of this type of testing:

  • Automated tests work much faster than tests that a person performs manually.
  • Such tests are much easier to perform a large number of times.
  • Tests can be used repeatedly for different versions of the software, so it’s convenient to conduct regression testing.
  • Automated tests exclude errors committed by inattention, for example, a person can enter incorrect data for the test, which in the case of an automated test is impossible, because the automated test will do exactly what is written in its code.
  • Automation frees resources (time) to perform other important tasks in the project that cannot be automated.
  • In the long term, the use of automated tests reduces project costs.
  • Finally, automated tests help to better plan the course of the project, since the time for performing automated tests is mostly fixed.

But is it a perfect approach for all cases?

Despite such obvious advantages of automation, there is software, in which the use of this type of testing is difficult or even impossible. True signs that it is better to choose manual testing are as follows:

  • Tests require subjective validation. In some applications it is necessary to check, for example, an image quality or sound. This category includes Skype, Netflix, FaceTime and many other applications, in which exactly the image and sound are the key to the performance of functions. In this case, manual testing can be the only possible way.
  • The content of the application is constantly changing. This is a very common phenomenon in telecommunications applications. This type of business is popular, is in significant demand among users and therefore the number of such programs is growing. Since the client is provided with new content frequently, the code for automated tests would also has to be constantly updated so that tests are relevant for each content. Of course, this approach is possible, but there is a risk that the cost of maintaining the code will exceed the real benefits of automated tests for the project.
  • The functions are still under development. This point is a bit similar to the previous one: the functionality of the application is changing, it is necessary to adjust the tests for it. If it is known that the function is not yet ready, then creating tests for it will be a waste of time.
  • The functionality of the application is complex (an excellent example is the e-health system). In such applications, it is critical to make the right tests and correctly prioritise them. If the functionality of the application is extensive and complex, the costs and time to create tests can exceed the benefit.
  • The application is very small, with very limited functionality. In this case, the writing of automated tests requires inadequate expenses.

How to make the right choice?

In conclusion, with certainty it can be said that automation is a powerful tool with broad capabilities. Despite this, there is no universal strategy for effective testing, which is why for each software it is necessary to develop an individual test plan and choose the methods that are appropriate for this project. You should not impose inadequate expectations on neither of the test methods and often the most advantageous option is the combination between automated and manual testing. Finding a middle ground, you can get the strengths of each method, while avoiding their weaknesses. Analyze the needs and opportunities of your project without illusions and prejudice towards any of the types of testing.

And of course we can help you choose the right approach for your testing needs. Contact us!

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