I etemmu, you etemmu, we all etemmu too

Is testing dead? Do modern delivery teams consider us as etemmu - lost spirits wandering the underworld just waiting to be called on to provide information and smash assumptions as we once did?

Someone told me once that all testers are part of a giant conspiracy to preserve their own roles. Part of this conspiracy is an elaborate series of lies fed to delivery teams, the purpose of which is to leave them with the belief that only dedicated testers can carry out a testing role. The closing gambit of his exchange was: “The days of parasite testers are over. Developers will do all the testing now”. Reader, I rolled my eyes.

How deceased, now?

If all testing has gone the way of the Norwegian blue, we’re gonna’ need a bigger graveyard. Think of the sheer variance of testing disciplines out there - Non-functional (Performance to Security), Functional (Component to User Acceptance Testing (UAT)) and the ‘ilities not even covered in this range (Accessibility to Portability). Companies are going to have some very busy devs all of a sudden. Better nail them to their perches.


Agile teams must be really into necromancy with the numbers of testers I read about and talk to who are embedded in development teams. Their counterparts in Waterfall teams must also be crammed full of psychic mediums going by the number of testers I talk to who are engaged in digital transformation / vendor testing. We all know that the best projects or programmes involve engaged communications but expanding this to be able to talk to those on the other side is going above and beyond or below and beyond depending on your perspective. Imagine having to go on a daily trip to Katabasis (the underworld) just to ensure your tester participated in the 3 amigos.

Rest in pieces

There is something going on in testing but it is not a death, more of a continual evolution. It’s been happening over the course of my whole life in testing. 20 years ago, we were adding jokes to test scripts to give the appearance of having produced something to the people who were employed to “count” our output. (Yes, this happened, not proud of it) We were not interested in scripts, we wanted to pull apart the application, if I push and you pull, what happens? Here is something that broke a similar app, let’s have a bash at that. Without realising it, exploratory testing and pair testing had crawled out of the slime.

Passing on

The internet and social platforms gave a voice to those who felt that bashing out script after script was adding very little value except to swell the coffers of the makers of commercial tools. Agile has brought this along but now it’s up to testers themselves to decide where testing should go in this brand new world.

Meeting the makers

For testers in Agile, this can mean getting as close to the code as possible and engaging in test driven development (TDD). For testers in Waterfall, this can mean getting as close to the business as possible and being a part of defining the requirements. These are not hard and fast rules though. On first glance, there is no reason why someone in Waterfall cannot sit with vendor devs to see the code or Agile testers can’t understand business context. It is just that often, this is hard to arrange. For all our evolution, testers still have to eat, drink, be social, have family time and sleep too.

Pushing up the daisies

Like all professions, we are changing as the world of products and programmes changes around us. Development, in a lot of cases, has gone from a programming role to a tools, libraries and code role. Scrum masters have taken on a more coaching and pastoral role. So testing too is going more star-shaped as we take on aspects of coaching, quality, code and business logic.

Our profession is not dead. Not even resting.

Some further context if you need it or some Monty Python if you don’t:

PS - Please do not staplegun developers to stools. It’s not nice.