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Manual Testing is a Task Not a Title

Nothing frustrates me more than when a tester labels themselves as a manual tester. Manual testing does not mean human-hands-on-keyboards. Please delete this erroneous definition from your mind.

Manual testing is the act of validating software functionality by mimicking the steps end users will perform. If these steps are scripted and executed through a user interface, then the automated tool is conducting manual testing. The computer did not pick what to test. A human being did. Technology simply executed the task and reported the findings. This perspective completely undermines manual tester, in the hands-on sense, as a job title.

Segregating hands on and automated test execution tasks makes no sense. Software testers assess their assignments and then decide on an appropriate strategy. Depending on the timeline and the nature of the deliverables we determine the steps required to minimize risk and improve quality. When tasks are repetitive in nature it makes sense to use technology, as technology enables us to perform our tasks more efficiently. Effective testers recognize the need for technology and integrate tools into testing efforts appropriately.

Using technology (automation) enables us to focus human processing power on engaging and creative undertakings instead of repetitive tasks. Sometimes, we do not have enough time to write code to test our code. Maybe the test is obsolete after one use. Or maybe a manager forgot to renew a license. In these circumstances testers resort to human processing power to execute the required tests. Using human processing power is not manual testing. It is TESTING.

Testers – Please stop calling yourself “manual testers”. Period. End.

Please delete the phrase “Manual Tester” immediately from the title field of your resumes and job descriptions. You, and your team members, hold talents and responsibilities that these words fail to do justice. Go ahead and use manual testing as a skill you possess. Validating the usability of software is a much-needed capability but it does not, and should not, define the multi-faceted aptitude of a software test professional.

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