Bringing manual and automated testing together

The following is a Guest Blog Post by Cullyn Thomson from Tellurium.  You can follow Cullyn on Twitter at @CullynT and Tellurium at @te52app, and we also suggest you visit the Test Talk blog.
automated testing

Looking back on the history of software testing, automated testing isn’t actually brand new.

In fact, James Bach has written that the practice of test automation predates even the concept of “dedicated software testers”:

Test automation is not at all new. What’s comparatively new is the idea of a tester. Long ago, in the late 40’s, dedicated testers were almost unknown. Programmers tested software. Throughout the sixties, papers about testing, such as the proceedings of the IFIPS conferences, almost always assumed that programmers tested the software they built. Testing was often not distinguished from debugging. As larger and more complex systems arose, the idea of dedicated software testers came into vogue.

Thinking in extremes

And yet even though test automation itself isn’t new, it has become quite a hot topic very recently (possibly bolstered by the continuing spread of development methodologies and strategies like Agile and ATDD/TDD).

The conversation is dramatically polarized. Those at one extreme vehemently oppose automation, seeing it as a death sentence to good ol’ fashioned manual testing, human testers, and even software testing in general. Those at the other extreme blindly champion automated testing, dismissing exploratory testing as “playing around.”

This “Us vs. Them” view is producing a mentality that says automated and manual testing are at irreconcilable odds with one another, that they can’t get along, that you can only use one or the other. And that’s a shame, because “or” sure is limiting.

“And” instead of “or”

So instead of “or,” if you really care about your application’s quality and integrity, I urge you to consider “and.”

Don’t settle for using only one method of testing. Using both automated and manual testing allows you to reap the benefits of both techniques while mitigating the shortcomings of using only one or the other.

Here are two examples:

  • Automated testing can help you speed up testing cycles, test constantly, and test more consistently, but at the end of the day, an automated script can only check what you tell it to check. Testing faster is good, but testing less thoroughly is bad.
  • Manual testing – particularly exploratory testing – can unveil lots of problems, from user experience issues to serious bugs that no one even considered, but doing it well takes a long time and all of the tester’s attention. When you have to do everything by hand, you simply can’t do as much.

Manual testing and automated testing don’t diminish one another; they enhance one another.

Making it work for you

Whether your company currently is purely an automation shop or relies solely on manual testing, you can make this magical testing combination work for you.

Introducing manual testing

If your team has been neglecting manual testing, believing that your automated tests provide all the coverage you need, think again.

Re-evaluate your automated suite to make sure that your automated tests are as robust as possible and that they’re truly exercising your application. Likewise, review the results of automated test runs with a critical eye. Remember that a 100% pass rate doesn’t necessarily mean your site is bug-free; it could mean that your automated tests aren’t well-written or aren’t doing what you think they’re doing. Then update your automated scripts as needed to get them in the best condition possible.

Once you’re confident that your suite is up to date, it’s time to turn to manual testing. Assign test cases that aren’t suited to automated testing to your test team for manual scripted testing, and be sure to give your testers time for exploratory testing. Doing so may involve a shift in priorities and testing schedules, and that’s OK.

The important thing is that by bringing manual testing into the mix, you’ll be able to cover your application’s functionality even more thoroughly.

Introducing automated testing

On the other hand, if your team has been using only manual testing, add automated testing into the mix.

To start, you’ll need to select an automated test tool that suits your application and the testers (or developers) who will be creating your automated test scripts. There are lots and lots of tools out there, and choosing the right one can be difficult. Software testing tool review lists like uTest’s list of highest rated tools can be a great resource on your search.

Once you’ve selected your tool and figured out who will be responsible for creating the automated tests, you’ll need to make sure those team members have time to script. Obviously building out your automated suite won’t happen overnight, but by resolving to create a few automated scripts each sprint or release, you’ll gradually get there.

And once those automated scripts are running regularly, you’ll be amazed at how automated testing can relieve some of your team members’ burdens and how much more of your application you can test each cycle.

Stop thinking in terms of “or.” Use both manual and automated testing to make sure your application is in tip-top shape.

About PractiTest

Practitest is an end-to-end test management tool, that gives you control of the entire testing process - from manual testing to automated testing and CI.

Designed for testers by testers, PractiTest can be customized to your team's ever-changing needs.

With fast professional and methodological support, you can make the most of your time and release products quickly and successfully to meet your user’s needs.

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3 Responses to Bringing manual and automated testing together

  1. Calkelpdiver January 7, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

    Well said. There isn’t a “versus” or “or” condition to the implementation of manual execution (by human means) and automated execution (by machine means) to testing. Humans use tools, and that is what automation is (in any form). It is tool use to augment/enhance a humans capabilities to perform a task.
    Neither one is a replacement for the other, they are complementary sides of the testing coin. But getting people (in general) to understand that and work within those parameters is the real difficulty.

    I suggest looking at some of the discussions on LinkedIn like this one: (, and going to my profile page (shameless plug) and looking at my presentations for “Think You’re Ready for Automation” and “It’s Automation, Not Automagic!”. I try to cover as well as possible the issues with implementing tools and things you need to do before you consider implementing automation. LinkedIn profile page: (

    Jim Hazen

  2. Victoria Spencerr May 11, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    Manual testing is a testing process that is performed
    manually to find faults without the use of tools or scripting.A test plan
    document automation is prepared which acts as a guide to the testing process in
    order to have the complete test coverage.

  3. Larry Wells September 7, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

    Hi, that was the well written article on manual testing and automated testing. But I will go for manual testing instead of automated testing for some reasons. Because in my view, testing through tools are not much accurate when compare to manual testing but unless and until if we get most high rated tools to test the software. Anyways, that was the well described between manual and automated testing. Thanks!

    Larry Wells
    Evoke Technologies

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