Automated Testing or Manual Testing

Automated Testing or Manual Testing?

Testing is an essential part of the software development cycle. It aims to ensure that software is working as intended and meets requirements. A structured procedure, it helps flag when new code inadvertently breaks previously working, seemingly unrelated features. This is especially useful when previously bug-free, obscure, or seldom-used parts of an application break, as flagging issues on time make it easier to pinpoint the root of the problem. It also prevents code not compliant with requirements from being shipped and diminishes the chances of a negative user experience.

The beauty of automation means that this, too, can be done without human intervention with higher accuracy, and with much faster processing times. At the same time, manual testing requires lower initial investment, does not require programming language, and is better suited for various types of testing.

Table of Contents

  1. Manual Testing \ a. Reasons for choosing manual testing
  2. Automated testing \ a. Reasons for choosing automated testing
  3. Factors to consider
  4. Comparison \ a. Time \ b. Initial Investment \ c. Required knowledge \ d. Reliability and accuracy \ e. Resources \ f. Value for money \ g. Test reports \ h. Flexibility
  5. Where manual testing shines \ a. Exploratory testing \ b. Usability testing \ c. Ad-hoc testing
  6. Where automated testing shines \ a. Performance testing \ b. Load testing \ c. Functional testing \ d. Repeated execution
  7. Final thoughts

Manual testing

As the name suggests, is executed manually. This is done by human testers who usually received short specific training, and are following checklists, guidelines and processes. Considered “classical methodology” or a legacy system, it still very much has a place in today’s development world.

Reasons for choosing manual testing

revolve around project requirements. They may have a fixed budget or a timeline that does not allow for the development of the necessary scripts for automated testing. The code being tested might require expertise that is hard to replicate through code at a similar level of quality. Skip to “where manual testing shines”. Just as well, manual testing is preferred when it comes to software undergoing UI changes or where large parts of the application are changed often.

Automated testing

Imitates humans using the software and involves using various automation tools and frameworks such as Selenide, Serenity, Data driven, Hybrid, BDD, among others, to validate it. The adage “time is money” continues ringing true; one of the main goals and benefits of automation testing is completing the execution of tests faster. While scripts and macros can be executed at superhuman speeds, they must still be developed by software developers, engineers, and architects. 

Related: losing jobs to automation and key skills to develop to avoid being left behind

Reasons for choosing automated testing

When dealing with larger-scale projects that see incremental changes to parts of the software but where much of it is untouched, automated testing is preferred. Faster turnaround times, higher reliability and accuracy, and a need for more robust, exact specifications call for this type of testing. There is also less need to train human testers, but the required budget, time, and expertise must be available.

Factors to consider

Budget, project requirements and structure, deadlines, resources, suitability, and available expertise. It is not uncommon to use both types of testing for large, important software development where the presence of bugs can have major real-life consequences.

Both types of testing can be used for integration testing, system testing, performance testing, and load testing, but have differences in their suitability.



  • Much faster processing times
  • Longer and more involved setup
  • Faster setup
  • Requires training human testers

Initial Investment

  • A very large upfront investment
  • Requires development of testing tools
  • Often means hiring automation engineers and other staff
  • Much lower initial investment 
  • Comparatively low long-term ROI

Required knowledge

  • Programming knowledge
  • Frameworks and proficiency in automation tools
  • Checklists, guidelines, and processes

Reliability and accuracy

  • More reliable and accurate
  • Humans can catch obvious errors that could escape software


  • Software developers, engineers, architects
  • Higher upfront time required
  • Maintaining automation code
  • Higher budget
  • Quality Analysts
  • Required training for human testers is comparatively much lower. Does not have to be a software developer

Value for money

  • Better return on investment (ROI) for large, largely repeatable projects/tests
  • Quicker to implement
  • Lower long-term ROI

Test Reports

  • Better suited for quantitative reports
  • Automatically generated and saved
  • Easily accessible
  • Better suited for qualitative reports
  • Allow for human observation and user-friendliness evaluation.


  • Less flexible
  • A machine can only test exactly what it is programmed to test
  • Harder to adapt to small changes
  • May not require retraining as humans are better with less exact instructions
  • Does not require specialized staff

Where manual testing shines

Exploratory testing

Testers’ experience and intuition may be required, in which case, manual testing would be much better suited for the task. Finding unknown bugs is also an area that requires this type of testing.

Usability testing

Measuring how user-friendly and convenient a piece of software is, as well as evaluating user experience are all quantitative endeavors that are nigh-impossible to automate.

Ad-hoc testing

Where no particular scenario exists and testing unplanned, the understanding that a human tester brings makes automated testing unsuitable.

Where automated testing shines

Performance testing

Testing that attempts to find the limits of what software can handle, such as tests with massive amounts of users, is better done through automation.

Moreover, reports can be more exact, and experiments repeated many times over, quickly. Automated testing is especially useful where variables are changed, or other changes are implemented immediately after a test is carried out. The faster processing times and the lack of human testers needed means that it is much easier to see how those changes directly affect results.

Load testing

A part of performance testing, automated testing is much more suitable when evaluating load efficiency

Functional testing

Frequent code changes are possible, and testing can be done at a high speed and at lower costs.

Repeated execution

When the tests that are carried out are often repeated, automation testing is preferred as it is faster and has higher reliability.

Final thoughts

Automation has a plethora of benefits for both businesses and employees, but that does mean it is always the right solution. As the saying goes, “if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” We are well aware of this and only work with clients who can benefit from automation and who will see a positive return on investment. We aim to make running a business easier, faster, and more profitable.

If you would like to find out if your company could make use of robotic process automation, or business process automation just fill in the form below and one of our experts will get in touch soon. No technical knowledge is required.

If you are an employee tired of repetitive tasks, we can help you evaluate the situation, make a business case for your employer, and help you bring more value to your company.

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