The Role of Manual Testing in DevOps

fari
4 min readAug 16, 2021

In simple terms, there are two core goals of DevOps practices:

1 — To decrease the development lifecycle,

2 — To ensure continuous delivery without compromising on product quality.

When it comes to business, DevOps offers several key benefits. More significantly, DevOps models enable companies to integrate a clear and efficient segmentation of roles adhering to the concepts of CI (Continuous Integration) and CD (Continuous Delivery). This approach ensures that the correct specialist in the process is involved at the correct time and increases the culture of collaboration between teams with the collective goal to release products quicker and more efficiently.

One facet of DevOps that ensures a quicker time to market is automation. Steady automation of repeatable processes that otherwise would require too many resources and time. As a result, we can outline that automation is an integral element of DevOps.

Getting back to this blog’s topic, it is vital to recognize the importance of QA in such a highly automated environment. While attempting to decrease costs, time and effort, teams tend to make the same mistake by emphasizing too much on the efficiency of the workflow rather than focusing their efforts on the end quality of the product.

Instead, teams must bear in mind that regardless of the benefits of quality assurance automation, human engineers are still a crucial aspect of the process. Often undervalued, manual QA still has a major role in DevOps and in this article, we will explore how crucial it is for DevOps.

MANUAL VS. AUTOMATED QA
Software QA service providers usually leverage both manual and automated testing techniques in their projects. Each method comes with its own set of advantages and limitations as well as having diverse purposes. Ideally, automated and manual software testing must coexist in order to guarantee maximum efficiency and end quality.

Pros of Manual Testing Approach
Let’s look at some of the key benefits of using the manual testing approach in DevOps:

1. Avoiding automation errors
Human errors can occur in software testing. However, in this case, if a mistake is made by a human specialist, he or she will most likely be able to recognize the mistake and formulate a solution that would resolve it. However, in automated testing, a machine is unable to recognize an error. All it can do is follow a specific set of pre-defined actions programmed by a human.

2. Saving time
As mentioned above, automated testing saves time and resources for QA engineers. If that is true, how does manual testing save time as well you ask? It is an obvious paradox. But the surprising answer is that often a manual approach can be more time and resource-efficient than automated testing.

Let’s start by mentioning that building an automated test case involves more time and resources depending on the complexity of the software. It is not a major issue if the plan is to test several similar products in the long run. But, as is a single one-off endeavor, manual testing is a far more effective method.

Another reason to use manual testing in a DevOps environment is if there are changes constantly being made to the product. When such changes are implemented, automated testing can be a hindrance as they also adjust with each change, leading to a delay in time to release the product.

3. Avoiding false positives and negatives
With more intricate cases, automation testing can lead to having a greater risk of undiscovered false positives and negatives. This can become a major hurdle in the QA process. That is another scenario where manual testing can be more advantageous.

4. Bringing creativity and skill to the testing process
In contrast to manual testing, automated tests tend to follow a prescribed list of commands, which works under the assumption of a total absence of creativity in the process. Facilitating creativity is possibly one of the biggest benefits of manual testing.

As for the topic of skill, there might not make a vast difference if the QA engineer is only proficient in the manual testing basics. However, if an expert is employed in a particular field or a reliable QA testing service, their level of competency plays a vital role in identifying bugs that a machine cannot detect.

THE BOTTOM LINE
Software development is a complex and continually evolving industry, as well as being highly competitive. With hundreds of thousands of new products entering the market each year, a business’ desire to automate product development and QA cycle is quite understandable. It is a great way to save time, effort and decrease the cost of quality assurance while enabling QA engineers to turn their efforts to other aspects of testing. On top of that, it ensures a smooth and quick release of products.

However, regardless of the benefits of test automation, there is still a need for a manual approach. Despite its advanced nature, automated testing cannot yet (and may never) be able to completely replace quality assurance manual testing. In the end, a human engineer will always be required to assess the product from the perspective of the user as well as to detect more complex and unexpected errors and bugs.

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