Are companies getting worse at QA testing?

Melissa Perri posed this question on Twitter:

Aaron Hodder had a great response on Linkedin:

He talks about how companies are giving up on manual testing in favor of automation. Definitely worth the read.

My response about the ramifications of automation vs manual testing (it doesn’t have to be either / or):

There are two mistakes I often see around this:

  1. Attempting to replace manual testing with automation
  2. Attempting to automate manual tests

Both are causes for failure in testing.

People often think they will be saving money by eliminating manual QA tester headcount. But it turns out that effective automation is *more expensive* than manual testing. You have to look for benefits in automation, not cutting costs. Not only is someone experience in developing automation going to cost more than someone doing manual testing, but automated tests take time to develop and even more time to maintain.

That gets to my second point. You can’t just translate manual tests to automation. Automation and manual testing are good at different things. Automated tests that try to mimic manual tests are slower, more brittle, and take more effort. Use automation for what it’s good for — eliminating repetitive, slow manual work, not duplicating it.

Manual testing has an exploratory aspect that can’t be duplicated by automation. Not until AI takes over. (I don’t believe in AI.) And automation doesn’t have to do the same things a manual tester has to do – it can invoke APIs, reset the database, and do all sorts of things an end user can’t.

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