Can Automation replace manual testers?

“Is Test Automation going to help my business?”

We received this question from our customers for the umpteenth time:

To answer that question, we take a methodical approach… we assess the maturity level of the customer’s quality assurance organization. Many of the organizations do not treat Test Automation as a core practice but a supporting practice within the practice. Changing this perception and adopting Test Automation as core practice requires great shift in thinking and visualizing the benefits.

Once we are convinced with their existing practice, process and team’s mindset we recommend the test automation to our client. At this point, we face the next question:

“What is the ROI from Test Automation?”

For most of the project managers this is just a quantifiable number in terms of running more tests faster with fewer people. This number is used to justify the adoption of Test Automation in their projects. How do we arrive at this figure? There are many simple calculations in software testing organization to calculate the ROI, one such calculation is:

ROI = (Cost of manual testing – Cost of test automation)/cost of test automation

This looks simple, straight-forward and easy… this entire exercise builds a business case “We will run more test cases faster, with fewer people.

Many of the thought leaders do not completely agree with the business case and have a plethora of questions like:

“Do running more tests, faster produce better software?”

“Does manual testing and manual testers can be replaced by test automation?”

“Can we compare the cost of multiple executions of automation tests against manual tests?”

“Can we devalue the tester’s role in software testing? “

We at Idexcel believe that, Test Automation (once proven ROI is established) must be used to optimize the testing efforts but at the same time balance the Automation and Manual elements. Test Managers should not get sucked by the ROI black-hole. They should utilize their human (manual testers) element to test changes to the application (new and incremental functionality), cases that requires human judgment, situations that involve complex and implicit business knowledge. And utilize the Automation element for tests that are explicit, repetitive and black & white.

Now, coming to the subject of the blog:

“Can Automation replace manual testers?”

Our answer is a resounding NO!, especially when we are talking about applications and systems that are incrementally maturing.

When we address the automation needs of our clients, we don’t only convince our client solely on ROI. But we provide the detailed analysis of how we combine right set of tool with right set of people and process which can improve

• Reduce time to market
• Increase test efficiency
• Increase test effectiveness
• Improve test repeatability
• Decrease test defects escaping to production
• Select right set of test suite for a particular cycle
• Optimizing the test cases as software evolves
• More importantly Quality