Software testing is the phase of the development lifecycle that aims at evaluating the capability of a program or system, identifying problematic areas and determining whether it meets the core objective of development. This testing process finds errors or mistakes in the developed system to assure it is built as per quality standards and client expectations.

Enterprise software quality assurance and testing services can be broadly classified in two categories – manual testing and automation testing.

Difference Between Manual and Automation Testing

Manual testing is the process of manually identifying defects in the software. In this type of testing, QA professionals check all the features of the given application, system, program or software to guarantee its proper functioning. As this type of testing is done manually, it does not require testers to have knowledge of tools.

On the other hand, automation testing is the method of leveraging automation tools to write and execute test cases on the software application. These tools later compare the actual results to the expected behavior and create test reports. This type of testing requires testers to have hands-on on programming to create different test cases.

The following table explains differences between manual and automation testing with respect to different elements:

ElementsManual TestingAutomation Testing
User InterfaceIn case of manual testing, testers tend to check the user-friendliness quotient of the system or application being developed.As testers use automation tools for testing, they do not pay much attention to UI of the application.
Testing TimeManual testing is comparatively more time consuming as testers check each and every aspect related to proper functioning and UI manually.Automation testing is faster as it operates on tools that test the system or application as per different test cases.
AccuracyManual testing, though double-checked, has scope of human error. Automation testing is highly accurate as it completely depends on results of testing tools.
ReliabilityManual testing has complete dependency on humans; hence it cannot be acclaimed as ‘reliable’.Automation testing is comparatively more reliable as tools execute the results of test cases formulated by testers.
Programming This type of testing requires no programming efforts.Automation testing requires programming to devise new test cases that can check the proper functioning of system in all scenarios.
Regression TestingRegression testing is very time consuming and tedious process to do manually.Automation makes it easier to undertake regression testing with the help of tools.
InvestmentManual testing requires investment in terms of hiring resources.Automation testing requires investment in terms of purchasing tools.
BudgetManual testing is not much expensive, if considered for one-time or short-term goal.Automation testing is expensive as it requires purchasing tools; however, it proves to be quite reasonable in the long term.

Test Cases for Manual and Automated Testing

Enterprise quality assurance and testing teams can choose between manual and automation testing based on their requirements. Manual testing is best suited for following test case scenarios:

Ad-hoc Testing: As the name suggests, this testing does not follow any fixed method or approach. Ad-hoc testing completely depends on the understanding and diligence of the tester. For such scenarios where no specific testing process is to be followed, manual testing would be a good choice.

Adhoc testing can be performed when there is limited time to do exhaustive testing and usually performed after the formal test execution. Adhoc testing will be effective only if the tester has in-depth understanding about the System Under Test.

Exploratory Testing: Manual testing is suggested for test cases that have poorly written specification documents and requires analytical skills, strong intuition and experience of testers. While the software is being tested on one side, the tester on the other hand learns things that together with experience and creativity generates new good tests to run.

Exploratory testing is thought of as a black box testing technique. Instead, those who have studied it consider it a test approach which can be applied to any test technique, at any stage in the development process. The key here is not the test technique nor the item being tested or reviewed; the key is the cognitive engagement of the tester, and the tester’s responsibility for managing his or her time.

Usability Testing: When the developed system or application needs to be tested with respect to delivering good customer experience, usability testing is required. This type of testing cannot be performed by tools and has to be strictly supervised manually. Usability testing can be called as a non-functional testing technique that is a measure of how easily the system can be used by end users.

While above options require manual testing, there are some other scenarios that are too time-consuming and tedious to be performed manually. Automation testing is used for following type of testing:

Regression Testing: Automation tools are mandatory for scenarios that require running regressions at frequent intervals. Regression testing a black box testing technique that consists of re-executing those tests that are impacted by the code changes. These tests should be executed as often as possible throughout the software development life cycle.

Repeat Execution: When the situation demands testing of a particular task repeatedly, it is best to take help of automation testing tools.

Performance Testing: Testing use cases that demand checking the overall performance and speed of a system requires the help of automation tools. This is again a non-functional testing technique performed to determine the system parameters in terms of responsiveness and stability under various workloads. Performance testing measures the quality attributes of the system including scalability, reliability and resource usage.

Load Testing: When the system or application is to be tested for load conditions, manual testing may not give accurate results. Automation testing is best suited for such situations. Load testing is a performance testing technique by using which the response of the system is measured under various load conditions. The load testing is performed for normal and peak load conditions.

On a Concluding Note…

Analyzing your testing requirement makes it easier to choose between manual and automation testing. Hidden Brains is a leading IT company offering quality assurance and testing services to enterprises. We combine latest testing methodologies, technical expertise and industry best practices to address current testing challenges.


written by for Enterprise Solutions section(s).