Organizations are often caught in a catch-22 situation while striking a balance between manual and automated testing. Many believe that automating as many tests cases as possible will help them test faster and smarter, thereby allowing them to reduce costs associated with software delivery and manual testing. An alternative reasoning given in support of automation is that unlike manual tests, automation enables fast feedback, thereby ensuring continuous delivery objective can be achieved while maintaining the software quality. While these reasonings are sound and compelling, they somehow limit the essential role manual testing plays in delivering quality software.
The power of mind, which fuels manual testing, allows testers to find areas for improvement that may be nearly impossible to find via automated testing. It is entirely plausible that a feature that functions correctly and thereby passes an automated test does not meet the expected behavior for usability and consistency. A strong understanding of perspective and context, which is powered by the human mind in manual testing, thereby becomes extremely essential in many cases.
An example reflecting the importance of having a strong understanding of perspective and context while testing was realized this week when EA Sports released its newest Madden NFL game. In the game, Christian Kirksey, a Cleveland Browns linebacker, is being shown as 1'2" lilliputian player. While he has lost few inches on his real height which by the way is 6'2", he still manages to pack 235 pounds and pick up a fumble against other players.
The glitch in turn reveals the importance of having a tester’s perspective while analyzing the functionality from a user standpoint. Finding such an anomaly using an automated script can be tough and challenging, especially when it occurs for only one player across the entire game. Human perception and intuitiveness is impossible to replicate using an automated script. Having a perspective of the look-and-feel of the game would have been key to finding and resolving the glitch, before the game was released. Manual testing as a result could have definitely ensured Christian Kirksey stays 6'2" in reel life as well as in real life.
Here is 1'2" Christian Kirksey picking up a fumble and getting squished!