Three signs manual testing may be wasting your budget, undermining your deadlines, and ruining the user experience

How do you know your manual testing is failing you?

If you experience budget extensions, release inconsistencies, or bad customer reviews from time to time —  they might simply be occasional snags that you will eventually iron out. Or, they may be pointing to a growing cancer you will have to deal with at the cost of your sanity.

Take a look at the cases below to see if you can recognize the issues. We’ve also provided possible solutions that worked for us in the past.

Your hardworking QA team starts lagging behind

There seems to be enough staff to do the job…

We know the situation: you’ve got a great team of testing professionals. You’ve got your QA lead, you have several battle-proven testers, as well as ambitious up-and-comers who are growing fast. Your team has a great success record, and a work ethic you are proud of.

The team’s size should be more than enough to test the upcoming features, yet your people are increasingly behind deadlines.

But not enough to re-test the previously released features

While there are many reasons for falling behind schedule, the usual suspect is a growing pile of regression tests. These tests –- cumulatively known as regression debt –- are a burdensome compilation of monotonous checks designed to make sure new features don’t break existing functionality.

While the number of regression tests will grow as new features add up, the test debt must be regularly repaid.

With manual testing, this is typically accomplished by throwing more people at the job. But if you don’t have extra resources to spare, your team will have a hard time managing the test coverage and missed deadlines will become a sad reality.

Here’s how to fix it

The smart way to reduce your team’s workload is to use automation testing. Repeatable test cases can become scripts. They can run automatically and simultaneously, thousands at a time, with little to no human intervention, saving your team’s sanity in the long term.

You have a hard time releasing a quality product on demand

Next Monday you need to release a major upgrade…

Users love getting their hands on those awesome new features you are building. But they also want a bug-free experience. So you need to release often, while thoroughly testing your product every time before the big day.

This includes testing new features, and also re-testing old ones –- as we don’t want those nasty regressions to ruin the great unveiling.

But no one’s sure this release won’t contain critical bugs

And here’s the problem.

Once you approach your QA team about the upcoming release, they don’t know how long the necessary testing can take. Not to mention that the team isn’t able to provide you with a sign off report anytime soon — there is still too much regression debt left. One thing is clear: with no conclusion on the regression status, yoг can’t be sure critical bugs won’t creep in and mar the user experience.

With so little predictability, no one knows if the release will be a success or disaster. So to release at all, you have to let go of the quality expectations. Or put everything off, which at this point is hardly an option.

As a result, the business-critical release becomes a nerve-racking race against time — with no winning solution. No one has a clue what next Monday will bring.

Here’s how to fix it

To avoid quality compromises on big days, you have to lighten the testing load. You can do it by automating regression. Automated test suites are available 24/7, inside and outside office hours, and have predictable completion times. Relieved of the regression burden, your QA team can focus on release quality evaluation and reporting — and still have time to manually handle some of the edge cases if necessary.

As a result, automation translates into significant  time savings, enabling you to deliver on time  without undermining quality.

You suddenly realize that you increasingly pay more for quality

Bugs get fixed, but not as fast as they used to…

There is steady progress, and you are positive there won’t be a hiccup in the workflow —  your dev team writes high-quality code. The number of bugs and the according bug fixing workload seems reasonable for the planned scope. 

Yet, more bugs start slipping past QA and clog developer’s tasks, and that slightly concerns you. While you are sticking to the same quality expectations, bug fixing takes up more time.

And the cost to fix goes up

The underlying issue is the later you find the bug, the more you have to pay in order to fix it.  Let’s say, defects are not discovered immediately upon committing code the repository. Time goes by, new features get added and more people contribute to the code base.  When a bug report is finally submitted, the developer has to spend more time switching contexts and trying to figure out where the bug comes from in the now two-week old code.   More developer hours directly translate into higher bug-fixing costs.

Here’s how to fix it

Automate the regression part, and let your QA team focus more on the quality of the new features. With automated regression testing, the feedback loop between testers and developers will tighten up dramatically, resulting in less hours spent, cost reductions, and a shorter time-to-market.

Not surprisingly, 81% of organizations report ROI improvements in the first year after implementing test automation, due to detecting issues earlier. Your dev team will join the testing process sooner, fix faster, and cost less.

Wrapping up

Whether your project ticks all three boxes or just one, it’s an opportunity to reflect on how well your team is coping with existing testing scope. The more signs are true for you, the more you need to consider investing QA testing automation.

Done right, QA automation will help you enable frequent and timely releases, consistent product quality, predictable risk management and mitigation, and cost savings.

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