First let me say that I have personal experience with both manual and automated testing. I hear ALL THE TIME the answer to regression testing is automation. I say maybe…
There are many factors involved in making that decision. Not the least of which is will the company invest in an automation tool? If you’re not the person that decides how to spend the money, you don’t get to make that decision. You may have some influence in that area, but it’s not ultimately your decision.
Another factor is the maturity of the application. If you are developing a large application that’s being rolled out in phases over many releases – releases that may even span a couple of years – it makes no sense to automate your test scripts. The application will be in a constant state of change and too much time would be spent updating those scripts.
An application that is considered mature and generally only has regularly scheduled maintenance releases with the occasional upgrade are a much better place to spend automation dollars.
And yet another factor is ensuring the right staff is in place to do the automation. Depending on the tool you choose, you may need to have technical aptitude and be able to do some coding to get the scripts created.
I absolutely believe manual testers can move into automated testing as long as they are given the tools and training they need to be successful. They should never be handed a new tool and be told “here you go; you have a few days to learn how to use this”. If a company is going to invest in an automation tool, they should also be willing to invest in training or hiring the right people to do the tasks.