When Should You Automate Your Software Testing?

When should you automate your software testing?

Automation is often considered the most efficient option in the tech industry. Not only does the initial investment in automation repay a little further each time you complete a test; but some engineers think that it's holier to automate more tests. However, automated testing may not always be the best option when it comes to quality. In some cases, it can even be a burden for QA teams, leading to higher costs and missed bugs. 

We regularly help our clients increase the % of tests which they have automated. But if you're stuck choosing whether a test should be manual or automated, look no further.

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How do you choose automated testing over manual testing?

Achieving the right balance between manual and automated testing is of the highest importance if you want to deliver software of high quality and reliability.

manual vs automated testing

Manual testing is often the primary method used at the beginning of many software projects. QA testers manually execute test cases, document any defects identified, and then communicate these issues to the development team to be resolved. However, manual testing is time-consuming and requires a very detail-oriented approach. 


Over the last few years, automated tools have become increasingly popular, enabling teams to streamline their testing processes. With the creation of a test script, QA testers can now rerun the same script multiple times automatically, resulting in significant time and effort savings. This shift to automation has allowed for faster tests and broader test coverage.

Manual testing Automated testing
Manual testing is not accurate at all times due to human error  Automated testing is more reliable, as tools and/or scripts perform it.
Manual testing is time-consuming, taking up human resources. Software tools execute automated testing, so it is significantly faster than a manual approach.
Investment is required for human resources. Investment is required for testing tools.
Manual testing is only practical when the test cases are run once or twice, and frequent repetition is not required. Automated testing is a practical option when the test cases are run repeatedly over a long time period.
Manual testing allows for human observation, which may be more useful if the goal is user-friendliness or improved customer experience. Automated testing does not entail human observation and cannot guarantee user-friendliness or a positive customer experience.

Despite the surge in test automation, manual tests remain integral to the quality assurance process. While unit tests are commonly automated due to their simplicity and repeatability, UI tests may still be more effectively conducted manually.

When should I automate my software tests? 

Integrating manual and automated tests calls for an effective test management solution. 
For example, you can transition from a traditional testing solution to an Agile one, compatible with both manual and automated workflows.

Determining which test cases are ideal for manual or automated testing is crucial for crafting a successful quality assurance strategy. If you frequently deal with the following test types, opt for automation:

  • Test cases that repeat over time.
  • Time-consuming test cases.
  • Test cases with stable, non-changing requirements.
  • Test cases prone to human error.
  • Test cases with significant downtime between steps.

To determine if you should switch to automated software testing, you can create a grid with various attributes as columns, such as frequency, data, reuse, difficulty, and more. By assessing each test case against these attributes, you can determine whether it is suitable for automation or not. 

If you are considering automated testing, there are several issues to keep in mind:

  • Maintenance: Automated tests require continuous upkeep to stay accurate, leading to potential costs and time investments.
  • Testing tools: Test automation often needs additional tools, such as a continuous integration server, which may come with extra costs and configuration time.
  • Processes: The shift to test automation requires well-documented procedures to ease a smooth transition in QA roles and functions.
  • Constraints: Certain test cases may not be suitable for automation due to legal constraints, and at the same time, some automation tools could be prohibitively expensive.

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6 situations in which you should use automation testing

When is the best time to automate your testing? 
We put the question to tech professionals from across the globe. Here's what they said.  

1. When it's more cost-effective to automate your tests

The bottom line is: if you can save money and still deliver a quality product, cut costs where you can. That’s where automation comes into its own. But automation tools aren’t cheap, so the project size needs to be big enough to justify the cost. What’s more, the test needs to have the longevity required for the cost to make sense as well.

“Automation is never cheap. In some cases, you will need to use paid tools, and in others, you will need to hire someone just to write automation scripts. Generally, testing automation doesn’t make sense for simple projects so it’s better to use manual testing.

An overly-generalized rule of thumb for software automation is whether you value short-term costs or long-term ROI. If there is currently no room in your budget, skip on testing automation, especially if it’s a smaller-scale project. If it’s a large, long-term project, automation can save time, frustration, and even money!”

- Michal Kowalkowski, CEO and Founder of NoSpoilers.ai

2. When your testing is repetitive, such as regression testing

Suppose you are running the same test again and again without changing it. In that case, it would likely be much more time-efficient to automate.  That's because a manual task being repeated regularly wastes your team's valuable time and is likely to lead to more errors due to lack of attention.

“If you have a large amount or multiple repetitive software tests to do, automation is often the best option to save on time and get more in-depth reliable results.”

- James Boatwright, CEO of Code Galaxy

“The benefit of automated testing is linked to how many times a given test can be repeated, making it ideal for a system that is continuously running, with the opportunity to spot any issues as they arise, rather than reacting to ones that are already receiving complaints and losing you users.”

- Adam Korbl, CEO & Founder at iFax

3. When you find that time and testing is starting to pull you into a vicious cycle

Every engineering and QA team needs more time. Especially when contending with lightning-quick SDLCs, any time-saving activity can have a huge impact on your team’s productivity. 

“Automated testing frees up time for your developers and QA team. This allows them to invest their time into other features which can help reduce costs. By freeing up your dev team’s time, they will also be motivated to contribute more and work on features that they’re really passionate about.

It also saves money as there is a less likely chance that regression bugs will be introduced into the system. Debugging is one of the most time-consuming tasks that a developer is responsible for. Automated testing helps to reduce cases where debugging is required. 

- Husam Machlovi, Founder, Managing Partner and With Pulp

“First and foremost, testing automation is the best way to ramp up software delivery speed without compromising the end-product's intended quality, infrastructure, or functionality. Automated test scripts can run continuously, evaluating the newly developed features against various requirements and promptly detecting errors and bottlenecks.. This noticeably reduces the feedback cycle and enables the development team to make mission-critical fixes early on.

- Ivan Kot, Senior Manager at Itransition

4. When your tests will be more accurate from a machine 

Automation removes the possibility of human error. For that reason, in some scenarios quality can be dramatically improved by the use of automated testing. But you can also run hundreds of tests at once, meaning you will deliver a well-tested product that can be re-tested time and time again.

“Automated testing ensures that the core user experience is optimal. Whenever bugs are introduced that impact the end-user, this can cause headaches for customers and may ultimately lead to customers ending their business and/or not recommending your business to their network. Automated testing, particularly of the core customer experience, is a must-have. This ensures that whenever a new feature is developed, even before going to production, the developers are alerted automatically if there are any issues. This will prevent any bugs from hitting production, and ensure that customers are getting the same experience they’ve grown to love.”

- Husam Machlovi, Founder, Managing Partner and With Pulp

5. When you run tests frequently

Having the capacity to run frequent tests at high volume just isn’t a possibility in many engineering teams. Manual testing can only go so far, especially for smaller teams with no in-house testing team. If you would like to scale up your testing capacity, speak to one of our growth experts today to see what we can do for your team.

“Businesses should automate their software testing when they regularly conduct tests at a frequency where it’s more feasible to automate than manual. Ten tests are usually the baseline for manual testing, and anything more than that already needs automation.”

- Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva

6. When you need to run multiple tests at once

It's not easy to run the same manual tests simultaneously. The chances of a team having the capacity to run 100 tests at the exact same time are low. However, automation makes this task super fast and enables teams to test rapidly without feeling the pressure.

“Manual testing will not allow you to create the same test on multiple machines at the same time. Automatic testing is required when you want to run the same test cases across multiple machines at the same time.

Automation testing is also a good way to avoid human error in your testing. With automation, you can be sure that all tests are exactly the same, with humans you are allowing your simple error.”

- Shayne Sherman, CEO of Techloris

"When your testing needs grow to the point that you need to run multiple tests on different devices at the same time. You can run tests manually on different devices, as long as you have enough manual testers. However, if you want to test your system by running tests simultaneously, you need to automate your testing. Essentially, you can set up a script to run automatically from a number of devices."

- Petra Odak, Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals

Why do we go for automation testing?

While automation testing brings undeniable advantages, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution for every challenge your team may face. 
Automated tests excel in:

  • Regression tests: Ensuring new changes don't introduce bugs.
  • Load tests: Simulating heavy loads to assess application performance.
  • API tests: Verifying that an application's API endpoints meet specifications.
  • Integration tests: Confirming correct interaction among components.

Manual tests shine in:

  • Usability tests: Assessing user-friendliness subjectively.
  • Ad-Hoc tests: Exploring features without a predefined plan.
  • UI tests: Efficiently evaluating interfaces that automated tests might struggle to assess.
  • Acceptance tests: Ensuring an application meets user requirements and expectations.

But what if you need to run a regression test along with a usability one?
Global app testing uses a combination of crowdsourcing and intelligent automation to help you release high-quality software anywhere in the world.
Whether you're initiating automation, enhancing existing processes, or exploring alternative solutions, Global App Testing can elevate your quality standards:

  • Augment and support: Our crowd integrates with and bolsters your automation process.
  • Instant scalability: Effortlessly expand your manual testing team, allowing automation engineers more bandwidth.
  • Parallel testing efficiency: Achieve testing speeds comparable to automation through parallel testing.
  • Rapid feedback: Receive results within 6 hours for prompt decision-making.
  • 24/7 crowdtesting: Access crowdtesting services around the clock.
  • Consultancy and case creation: Benefit from test plan consultancy and detailed test case creation.
  • Manual testing expertise: Cover elements beyond automation capability with our skilled manual testing.
  • Tech stack integration: Seamlessly integrate our services with your existing tech stack.
  • Effortless Scaling: Scale up with minimal effort for ongoing maintenance.

Are you interested to learn more?  Speak to our QA specialist and learn how we can help you augment or replace your automation suite today!

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Why should I consider automating software testing?

Automation testing can enhance efficiency, save time, and ensure consistent and reliable results. It is particularly beneficial for repetitive and time-consuming test scenarios.

When is the right time to automate testing in the software development process?

The ideal time to start automation testing is when test cases are stable, repetitive, and need frequent execution. Consider automation when it adds value to your testing efforts.

How do I decide when to use automation testing over manual testing?

Factors such as repetitive test cases, time efficiency, and the need for frequent execution are key indicators for choosing automation over manual testing.

When is test automation not desirable?

Test automation may not be desirable when test cases are frequently changing, the cost of automation is prohibitive, or legal constraints prevent automation.

What is the role of automation in agile testing?

Automation in Agile testing is crucial for maintaining the pace of continuous integration and delivery. Start automation early in the Agile process for optimal results.

How do I determine what to automate and what not to automate?

Assess the stability, repetitiveness, and frequency of test cases. Automate those that meet these criteria and offer significant efficiency gains.

Which software tests can or should be automated?

Tests involving regression, load, API, and repetitive UI testing are prime candidates for automation to achieve efficiency and consistent results.

What are the phases of automation testing, and when do they occur?

Automation testing typically involves planning, scripting, execution, and maintenance phases. Each phase plays a crucial role in the automation process.



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