Mobile testing: The value of automated and manual strategies for enterprise apps

By Jonathan Crowl

For better or for worse, the mobile app marketplace is fraught with impatience. Consumers are rarely willing to keep an app on their device while wrinkles are ironed out and bugs fixed. Instead, users are more than eager to delete the app and download a comparable product from a competitor.

In many cases, such squandered opportunities can’t be recovered. This places a lot of pressure on mobile app developers, who don’t have the luxury of time once an app is released. These industry conditions make mobile testing particularly important. After all, this testing phase provides developers with an opportunity to prevent a potential disaster from taking place before an app is published.

When executed correctly, mobile testing can catch bugs and operational glitches before live mobile users are exposed to them. To uncover and address these issues, enterprises should make use of automated and manual testing strategies, each of which has pros and cons. In the end, the best strategy is one that combines these two tactics in varying proportions. Once you have a thorough understanding of your app and the goals you want it to achieve, you will be able to determine the perfect balance.

Automating when development demands it

Automated testing, even on a large scale, can be a necessity for many development products. In order to determine the ideal amount of automated testing that you should put into place, you must consider the needs of your app and your development team as a whole. Since this testing can be useful during the growth and development phases of an app, it’s ideal for long development life cycles. In fact, enterprises take in the greatest value from automation when this testing is done repeatedly over the course of development.

As TechTarget notes, it’s also wise to use automated testing in cases where the results are fairly predictable or in situations when manual testing would be too time-consuming. Furthermore, this strategy is particularly useful in apps that already undergo thorough testing. This adds another layer of assurance, as each test can serve to check the other’s work.

Understanding budget limitations

Manual testing may be tedious and time-consuming, but it’s much cheaper than investing in automated solutions. This reason alone will discourage many development teams from executing automated processes. Companies must determine whether the investment will be accounted for through the gains in testing. Automated solutions also require a long development cycle and consistent testing, which means that regression testing should take place at both a high frequency and a large scale.

Most important, a high volume of this automated testing needs to provide a relevant test case of the mobile app’s functionality. Unfortunately, this isn’t always a guarantee since the role of the human user is so critical to this phase of development.

Taking human behavior into account

Automated testing can check for many things, but accounting for human behavior represents a bit of a challenge. No matter how rigorous your automated tests, manual mobile testing will be able to check for bugs related to human behavior and user engagement in a more efficient manner. Though this may make manual tests fairly laborious, the value can’t be replicated by automation, which often fails to consistently check scenarios that human users will encounter. While automated tests may be able to alleviate some of the stress of manual testing, it’s clear that no app can safely launch without a rigorous series of manual tests.

In the end, automated and manual testing are both essential to building an effective, bug-free app. The design and anticipated use of your mobile app will help you determine the ideal balance between manual and automated strategies. In the meantime, you should pay close attention to any mobile testing concerns early in the development process. With automated strategies in particular, it’s clear that the early bird gets the worm.

Written By

Jonathan Crowl


Jonathan Crowl has served as a tech writer and reporter for a number of tech publications and corporations. Specializing in mobile technology and digital startups, he is based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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