Is it Necessary to Write a Full Suite of Manual Functional Tests?

Is it Necessary to Write a Full Suite of Manual Functional Tests?

3 July 2024 Stephan Petzl Leave a comment QA

When a feature is delivered, it is common to perform exploratory testing before executing manual functional tests. This method often uncovers the majority of defects early on. However, the question arises: is it worthwhile to invest time in writing a full suite of manual functional tests if the bulk of defects are already identified?

Balancing Exploratory and Manual Testing

The core of this discussion revolves around the balance between exploratory testing and manual functional testing. Exploratory testing is indeed effective, but it may not cover all potential issues. Here are some key considerations:

  • Coverage Concerns: Exploratory testing might miss certain areas, particularly those that require specific conditions or detailed steps to reveal bugs.
  • Confidence in Test Coverage: Managers and stakeholders often require documented evidence of comprehensive testing to make informed decisions.
  • Risk Management: Assess the risk of missing bugs by not having a manual test suite. Consider the frequency and severity of potential undetected bugs.

Alternative Approaches

Instead of a full suite of manual tests, consider these alternative approaches:

  • Automated Testing: Automated tests can significantly reduce the time spent on regression testing, allowing exploratory testers to focus on more productive areas. Automation also provides consistent coverage for repetitive tests.
  • Guided Exploratory Testing: Provide testers with a checklist instead of fully scripted tests. This ensures essential areas are covered while allowing testers the flexibility to explore and identify additional issues. This method is known as “Guided Exploratory Testing.”
  • Exploratory Test Charters: Use test charters to manage exploratory testing. Charters outline the scope and objectives of the testing session, ensuring comprehensive coverage without the rigidity of scripts.
  • Mind Mapping: Utilize mind maps to plan and document exploratory testing sessions. This visual approach helps in identifying gaps and ensuring thorough coverage.

Recording and Reporting

Documenting the testing process is crucial for accountability and future reference. Consider these methods:

  • Session Notes: Maintain detailed session notes during testing to accurately reflect what was tested. This is often more reliable than pre-written scripts.
  • Exploratory Testing Tools: Use tools specifically designed to record and manage exploratory testing sessions. These tools can help in tracking coverage and identifying areas that need more attention.

For more detailed strategies on managing test documentation, refer to our guide on organizing test documentation.


Deciding whether to invest in a full suite of manual functional tests depends on various factors, including risk assessment, coverage requirements, and stakeholder confidence. While exploratory testing is highly effective, complementing it with automated tests or guided exploratory methods can enhance test coverage and efficiency.

For teams looking to streamline their testing process, tools like Repeato can be invaluable. Repeato is a no-code test automation tool for iOS and Android, leveraging computer vision and AI to create, run, and maintain automated tests quickly. This allows teams to focus more on exploratory testing while ensuring consistent and comprehensive test coverage. Learn more about how Repeato can enhance your testing strategy on our getting started page.

Like this article? there’s more where that came from!