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I remember automated application testing vendors swearing that manual QA would be going away. That particular conversation has happened over the course of 20 years.
Automated application testing has been at the forefront of the testing discussion for ages, but manual QA is still alive and well. Automation is still a work in progress, as early tools only worked on relatively simple applications. I don't know about you, but how often do customers need, use or want a simple application? Granted, I do use the calculator tool, but I wouldn't purchase an automation tool for it.
Another reason automated application testing development isn't as strong as you'd think it'd be by now is because it frequently fails to deliver value. It doesn't find significant defects and it's usually abandoned due to the high cost of maintenance.
That's not to say it can't be successful. It can, but only if it's planned on the basis of realistic expectations and factual data. There's no replacement for facts. The reality is it's going to take time to plan out which test cases, in what areas, to automate and in what priority order. Gathering input from developers and testers is essential to come up with a test automation plan that is realistic and maintainable. It's also important to do test runs and verify that the automation path you've chosen works for both the simple and complex application functions.
You may consider doing a pilot project on a mix of functional test cases that broadly cover the application. Determine which areas of the application cause trouble or where your scripts are running into problems. Run the pilot for a decent amount of time to detect any maintainability issues over a period of three to six months. It's better to find out earlier than later in the event that replanning or significant adjustments are needed.
Automated application testing development is viable when planned with realistic goals based on fact. I don't believe manual testing is replaceable, but I also believe automation has value when done appropriately.
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