Asia Buła
QA Engineer
Reviewed by a tech expert

Do you really need a manual tester and why the answer is "yes"?

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The role of testers in ensuring product quality is widely acknowledged and understood in the industry. The implementation of well-performing products takes months of analysis and design, and is often associated with considerable budgets. Such projects simply can’t be allowed to fail. A reliable and user-friendly system is the ultimate goal of designers, developers and, of course, testers.

Why are testers so important from the get-go?

Knowledge of the technical aspects of the product combined with the understanding of the end user’s point of view make the role of the tester in the project much broader than you might think. In reality, apart from being a fully-fledged member of the development team working closely with programmers, the tester also represents all future users of the product.During their work, testers become a source of very detailed knowledge about the product. They get to know all its nooks and crannies – some of which the user might not be aware of, and the developer has long forgotten about. By re-enacting scenarios unique to a specific user of the application, testers get a solid understanding of the product’s user experience and usability.Testers are often invited to test a functionality at the design stage. Their opinion and comments may prove relevant in the process of introducing changes. After all, who understands the application and knows its users’ problems better? None other than the tester.

Automatic or manual tests?

Depending on the size of the company, budget, complexity of the project, its nature and the infrastructure used, the recommendation might alternate between manual and automatic tests.Today, manual tests are considered the standard in both startups making their first steps on the market and well-established businesses. You simply cannot afford not to think about quality any more. At the very beginning of the software development process, it is worth starting with manual tests. Idle waiting for the first production errors to crop up is no good, and the resulting, uncontrollable piling-up of tasks usually entails considerable development and repair costs.

What are manual tests good for and why is it hard to do without them?

  • Manual tests are primarily exploratory tests of the entire system and thorough checks of each created functionality.
  • We also manually perform usability and UX tests to assess the ease of use and understandability of the system as well as its accessibility to the end user.
  • For projects that require a lot of specialist knowledge in some field, a manual tester will be invaluable. After consulting the product owner and designers, the tester will create a list of test cases covering aspects related to the field covered by the project.
  • Manual tests allow us to catch errors that may be overlooked by machines. Thus, these two areas complement each other.
  • The database of test cases and reports constitutes an incredibly valuable repository of documentation necessary for further development of individual functionalities. The tester then becomes the company’s acceptance criteria expert.
  • Manual tests are very often performed ad hoc, e.g. during emergency, quick system repairs in the case of critical errors in production. They do not require written scenarios, but benefit from the knowledge and experience of a tester who knows the system inside out. Thus, they allow for a quick reaction to changes.
  • Manual testing also works well in complex, multi-stage scenarios or conditions specific only for a given user. In such cases, automation would be simply inefficient and excessively time-consuming, especially if such an edge case only occurs once.
  • In the case of "mature" systems with legacy code (i.e. inherited and working for a period of time), manual tests beat machine tests, which would be very expensive and difficult, if not impossible to write.
  • Manual tests are also the best choice for developing mobile and desktop applications.
  • Because smaller projects are often limited by budget constraints, the cheaper option wins. Performing manual tests does not require specialized tools or knowledge of programming languages. At the beginning, employing a manual tester is a much more economical option and easier than finding an automation tester with relevant knowledge and programming skills.

Meticulous, manual clicking through the application is tedious work. It requires a lot of creativity and comes with its own share of risks. The greatest of them - the human factor – may become the greatest threat. There is a greater risk of error, oversight and inaccuracies caused by tediously repeating the same scenarios over and over again – or by mere ignorance.Sooner or later, a dynamically developing product will need the support in the form of scripts and robots. These, in turn, are not possible without hiring automation testers and building efficiently collaborating teams.

  • One of the best arguments here is the automation of regression tests, i.e. the key functions ensuring the operation of the system. Automated scripts can perform entire sets of previously prepared tests much faster, and in a consistent manner. This significantly relieves manual testers and shortens the waiting time for reports, which is important when implementing a new version of the application to the production environment.
  • Automatic tests, unlike manual tests, are 100% reusable and error-free in all the steps performed. If properly written and maintained by an experienced person, they improve the teams’ confidence in the reliability of the final product.
  • The bigger the product, the more difficult it becomes to test everything manually with each little change or update. The growing database of automated tests will allow you to maintain a greater stability of the application.
  • You should also be aware that while automatic tests are significantly more expensive and time-consuming at the beginning of the implementation, they will pay off in the long-term. This is especially evident in long projects.


There are many factors to decide if a given company needs the full support of both manual and automation testers, or should invest only in manual tests at the beginning. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, its budget, the number of people involved and what areas are to be tested, either possibility comes with certain pros and cons.One could even go on to say that almost every project requires both at some point. Automated tests will never fully replace manual tests because these two are as different as night and day. Manual testing will always need the support of machine tests if you’re after ensuring a high, consistent level of quality.The certainty that the project we create works correctly despite introducing changes and adding new functionalities, and that the customer can use it without any problems is the greatest and most important value for the company.

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