Manual Testing vs Automation Testing – What You Need To Know


Software testing is a critical component of any project development. It allows for checking quality, time, and cost, to name a few variables. The aim is to ensure the functionality of the application. It determines whether you have met the specific requirements. The process is also essential for checking any defects. It allows you to take the necessary steps to correct them. You do this to ensure the final output is of high quality. 

You have two options with regard to software testing. These are manual testing vs automation testing. You may wonder which one is better. 

The reality is both have their advantages and disadvantages. In some instances, you will find that one is more applicable than the other. Our article will go into an in-depth discussion of the two.  Let’s dive into it.  

  1. Manual testing vs automation testing
  2. Differences between manual and automation testing
  3. Which is the better option?

What’s the difference between manual and automation testing?

To start off, it is important to understand the difference between the two. 

1# Manual testing

Manual testing is the process of executing test cases and reports generation by hand. The Q&A analyst does everything manually, without the use of any automation software. The process requires the analysts to use the different apps in the same way as the end-user would.  He uses predefined test cases to explore UX, functionality, and design. The process allows for capturing any errors or deviations that may impact the overall functionality.  

There are specific steps that the Q&A analyst must complete. They are:

  • An analysis of the requirements to know every possible scenario and identify any errors or deviations.
  • The creation of test cases that incorporate all aspects of the design elements.
  • Reporting any bugs and documentation to allow for the quick resolving of the issues. 

2# Automation testing

Automation testing incorporates the use of relevant tools to discover defects. The Q&A analyst uses pre-scripted tests or a set of specific instructions. The aim is to validate different features or confirm an expected outcome.  

Exploring the differences between the two

What are the main differences between manual testing vs automation testing? We will use different parameters to highlight the key points.  

  • Speed of execution

It would be hard to compete with automation when it comes to speed of execution. Any manual testing would be time-consuming and heavy on human resources. 

  •  Ease of collaboration and feedback

It would be hard to outdo the collaboration you can achieve with automation. Accessing reports is as easy as logging into the system. With manual testing, search information may not be readily available.  

Take the example of the free test automation tool, TestProject. You have the option of cloud or local hosting. It allows for remote execution and automatic test deployment. Everything is on a centralized dashboard giving quick access to team members. 

  • Cost implication

The reality is any automation may require a high initial investment.  However, you’ll realize excellent ROI in the long run, which makes it worth the spend. But, the investment would only make sense for large-volume jobs.

Manual testing may not yield as much in the long run, although you may spend less. It can, however, become expensive if the volume of work is large.  

  •  Random and exploratory testing

Manual testing has a lot of flexibility. You have the option of adopting it to any specific requirements you have at a particular need. It is there for the best if you carry out a lot of random and exploratory testing. 

Automation is precise because it depends on scripts. Let’s say you need to change something in the UI. You will have to make relevant changes to the test scripts as well. Selenium, for example, allows for the use of multiple languages for script development. It allows for scalability on different OS and browsers. 

For manual testing, slight changes may not have an impact on the overall execution. 

  •   Accuracy, reliability, and range of tests

Any manual testing is susceptible to human error. Repetitive mundane tasks can be tiresome. It’s possible for Q&A analysts to not notice specific issues. Automation eliminates any testing fatigue because you use tools and scripts. 

Automation testing will also yield better performance tests. Processes like load, stress, and spike testing can only happen with automation. In the same breath, there are some tests you cannot automate. Such include exploratory, ad hoc, and user interface testing.

RFT by IBM for example allows for regression and functional testing. It minimizes reworks for application changes.

You also get the advantage of the ability to run parallel executions resulting in time-saving. It doesn’t mean you cannot do the same for manual testing. However, you will spend a lot more because you have to hire enough human resources.  

Which is the better option?

The truth of the matter is it would be difficult to pick one over the other. From the differences we have highlighted above, it is clear that each has its advantages and disadvantages.  

Automation testing saves time and can easily handle repetitive tasks. It is also ideal for functional, performance, and load testing. It also allows for greater accuracy because you avoid the possibility of human error. 

On the downside, automation testing can be expensive. It also only makes sense if the volume of work is high. Yet with all the benefits of automation, you cannot entirely replace human input. There are tests you cannot depend on machines for. 

Portfolio Dragos Muntean

Manual testing is not rigid in its applications. You can make changes on the fly as and when necessary. It is, therefore, ideal for exploratory testing, which is critical in software development. Other things like ad hoc and usability testing are highly dependent on manual testing feedback.  

Final thoughts

We have looked at the salient points you should know about manual and automation testing. They both have their uses in software testing. The type and scope of work will determine what to use.   

Let’s take the example where you want to test the UX of a website. It would not make too much sense to invest in automation. Manual testing would give you better results. You also get greater flexibility. You can make changes during the process and get immediate feedback. Some of the feedback you need will be outside of the scope of the automation. Say you want to know the legibility of the fonts. You may also want to check the usability or ease of navigation. 

💡 For best software testing, achieving the right balance between the two is a sure win. Determine your needs, timeframe, budget, and scope of work. After that, it becomes easy to know what to use. 

Stefania Volpe

Stefania joined the international team at freelancermap in 2020. She loves marketing, the digital world, foreign languages and meeting different cultures. She moved from Italy to Germany thanks to an exchange program at the university and worked as marketing manager for several startups. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at

By Stefania Volpe

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