There has been focused attention on automated testing the last several years and the importance of automating more.  While this is certainly an extremely important element to ensure software quality, automating for the sake of automation can cause significant issues.  There are situations where creating automated test scripts do not make sense.   As a leader of the Quality Engineering organization you need to make sure you consider the following items in having strong manual testing resources.

  • Always perform extensive analysis to determine what is the best approach, manual testing or automated testing
  • If the test will be performed a few times, manual testing is a much more efficient option
  • If the test is going to be performed multiple times and is repeatable, then the manual tester should execute the test case to ensure it is going to pass and write detailed steps for the automation engineer to automate before it is automated.
  • In software testing not everything should be automated
  • Manual testers will always be an important element of the software testing team

Great manual testing is hard to find.  It takes many years of experience to become a great manual tester.   Manual testers can find significant defects that developers or automated test scripts will not find so a great tester is worth every penny and more of what they are paid.   I personally started out as a manual tester and was able to develop my skills as an automated tester and move into a management role.  I have a high degree of passion around software quality and was able to find many significant defects which would have been devastating to the company if they were not identified.

It is unfortunate that those who don’t have an in depth understanding of software quality believe the manual testing function can be moved offshore or given to people with very little experience.  While it is true that a great manual tester can work there way into the role, not enough credit is given to the manual tester these days.  There needs to be a strong balance between having great manual and automated testers in order to build a top level software quality organization.