Whatever type of software your business produces, it’s essential to test it before release.
These tests can focus on the functionality of your product, gauge its durability, or ensure it’s intuitive. They also ensure that your product works as it’s supposed to and is a high-quality software that meets users’ needs. Thorough testing minimizes product breakage and the number of returns from customers.
However, there are many ways of testing products, each with its advantages and uses. Even with software testing outsourced to other engineers or businesses, knowing which types to employ can be difficult. They may even depend on the resources available to your business.
Of these, manual and automation testing are particularly helpful with products. That said, they approach testing in different ways, so it’s worth understanding the benefits of each.
What is manual testing?
If you have a quality assurance team of engineers, these are your manual testers. When testing software, they create test cases and measure how the application performs, checking its functionality and efficiency. Often, they act as a potential customer would, making spontaneous decisions and using the software in different scenarios to gauge the outcome.
Typically, manual testing is used for functions that are either too complex for automation testing to complete or requires some human judgment to measure the functionality. This applies to visual aspects of your software and how they impact the experience. Likewise, to test functions with many parts, a senior engineer can run the software and adapt their responses.
Benefits of manual testing
Using a quality assurance team means you can implement testing almost immediately, as it typically requires less preparation.
If your team already has a basic understanding of what needs to be tested, you don’t have to waste time creating procedures or plans for them to follow. They should be able to use their initiative and know what elements will need checking.
An existing team of testers can also be cost-effective for complex tasks, as the team has previous knowledge to draw on.
This is particularly useful for aspects of your software that need human feedback, such as the design of your help desk solution and the user experience of the software. These elements can depend on personal preference, however there is a required baseline usability.
Manual testing allows your team to gauge how suitable these elements are, making notes for potential improvements whilst ensuring they’re at a decent standard for the software to be released.
What is automation testing?
Unlike manual testing, automation testing can use software integrations to test the functions of your application. These are programmed by your engineers, setting the parameters to test and data to collect from the exercise.
In some cases, you can draw on the help of artificial intelligence for your small business to make the most of machine learning throughout the tests. Once your testing is set up, it can run without assistance, following the instructions you inputted to gather results.
Automation testing can be programmed to test repetitive functions or elements of your product that human testing isn’t sufficient for. Repetitive functions tend to be easy to set up the instructions for and leave running. On the other end of the scale, sometimes automation is necessary for high levels of precision and accuracy.
Benefits of automated testing
One of the key advantages of automated testing is that it saves time and effort for your team.
After you’ve set up your automated test, it can run without supervision, completing as many tests as required. Whilst this is happening, your team can focus on other tasks and review the results at the end. These can even be set up to run 24/7, making your testing process more efficient as it doesn’t have to stop until the testing is completed.
With software testing, human error can cause major issues so automated testing helps to avoid this. Each aspect of your application is tested consistently and to the precise instructions you input, meaning nothing gets overlooked or forgotten.
In addition, automation can simulate the usage of large numbers of users simultaneously, which wouldn’t be possible with your quality assurance team. This ensures your software is accurate and ready for widespread use.
Which type of testing should you use?
Identifying which testing method is most appropriate depends on what you want to test and the specifics surrounding that.
If you’re testing your software generally, it may help to list the functions you intend to test or the purpose of your testing. This gives you an idea of the testing abilities you’ll need. For example, testing your software to check the user experience requires a different method to ensure it still functions well with thousands of users, although both are important.
A combination of manual and automation testing may work for your software. Whilst some repetitive functions can be automatically tested, such as importing contacts to your email database or scheduling reminders with a calendar function or creating invoices, your quality assurance team can manually test other areas.
If you’re not sure which to use, manual test first to identify the process needed. As you complete the test, the information you gather may help you decide if next time you need to opt for automation testing.
Are you using manual or automated testing with your products?
Testing is an important part of your product development, whether you’re a small business or an entrepreneur. The feedback you receive informs you whether your software is ready to be released through different types of marketing or if there are changes that still need to be made before it’s presented.
Although you could choose either manual or automation testing, for some product functions, one method of testing may make more sense than the other.
Generally, a combination approach to testing will work best, making use of the benefits of each method depending on the element of the software you’re focusing on.
If you find that an area of testing is not providing the accuracy or time efficiency you want, perhaps it’s time to review your testing methods and try something new. Particularly if you don’t already use automation in your testing, investing in it could optimize your testing processes, resulting in better productivity, a shorter launch time and a more reliable product.