Is testing really time-consuming?

"Slow Food Elora" by chilebeans is licensed under CC BY 2.0
“Slow Food Elora” by chilebeans is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Strange as it may sound, let’s start this piece of writing with credits: it was inspired by a thought-provoking article written by my friend and fellow tester Ralph Fisher.

Through the article, he cleverly deconstructs the second part of a statement made by a reasonably well-known privately-held information technology company that delivers tools for software testing: “Manual testing is notoriously time-consuming and prone to human error”.
Since Ralph already centered his attention on the biased concept of proneness to human error, I will focus on the first part of the statement to try to unravel the myth that not automated* testing is time-consuming.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s think about an environment which everybody must be familiar with: let’s imagine you need to test the average eCommerce website.
Now, if this task is assigned to someone with testing experience and, above all, a testing mindset, they will likely find around three or four defects in the first twenty minutes of testing.
Let’s assume they will spend another ten minutes per issue to diligently track them into the corresponding bug management system, in case this (often worthless) additional operation is needed.
Which means they will have spent about one hour to detect and record up to four defects.

Now, please tell me how much time managers and programmers will usually need to prioritize and fix those defects, and do the math. I mean, fairly.
By the way, as my (sometimes a little evil) friend Ralph would certainly point out, what about the time it took the programmer to code the bug in the first place?
And even in the ideal case of a really Agile environment where a culture of collaboration is in place, programmers can immediately fix bugs and there’s no need to use any bug management system at all, I would say that testing doesn’t take necessarily more time than any of the other activities required to build a software product.
So, do you still believe that testing is the most time-consuming part of the process?

Anyway, I would say that labelling something necessary and useful as time-consuming is not only risky but also pointless.

Compared with eating, cooking may be time-consuming too. So what? Would it make sense to get rid of the latter and starve?

To sum up, I hope next time someone says testing is time-consuming you immediately threaten them with going to bed without dinner… 😉


(*) As you may have noticed I don’t use the term manual testing, basically because I abhor it.
Please, take into account that it refers to something that is usually performed using our brains more than our hands…




my profile picture

Thanks for reading this article.
Feel free to recommend it or to add a comment.

Should you have any doubts about Software Testing, please contact me: I will be glad to help you.

On the other hand, if you want to get notified about my blog posts, please sign up through the BLOG > SUBSCRIBE TO THE BLOG NEWSLETTER menu.
Thank you.